Tim Burton, the master of macabre and the groom of goth has done it again. Teaming up with his â€˜favoriteâ€™ actors, Johnny Depp and his inamorata Helena Bonham Carter, he has brilliantly brought to the screen, the tale of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Sweeney Toddâ€™s tale is a cautionary one and is not new. Do not expect any major plot gymnastics from this one. So why is it so brilliant? Aside from the performances and the production design, itâ€™s because of the damn amazing music of Stephen Sondheim.
First staged in 1979, Sondheimâ€™s score, which is sometimes considered as opera depending on how and where it is presented, has endured the 28 years it took to reach the screen. While stage and music purists might scoff at Deppâ€™s â€˜rockâ€™ style baritone or Bonham Carterâ€™s â€˜lightâ€™ alto, they get the job done allowing the clever lyrics to penetrate the screen, bringing life to the characters. Couple that to amazing orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, and those who love musicals or music for that matter are in for a treat.
While its subject matter is indeed taboo, the film tackles some very visceral attitudes in our society. Example, from the song Epiphany, â€œThey all deserve to die. Tell you why, Mrs. Lovett, tell you why. Because in all of the whole human race Mrs. Lovett, there are two kinds of men and only two. There's the one staying put in his proper place. And the one with his foot in the other one's face.â€ And itâ€™s also a very funny film, though the inappropriate and grisly kind of funny.
There are copious amounts of blood once the carnage begins. Be ready for that and donâ€™t expect it to happen from scene 1. (And donâ€™t wish for it to come sooner, as someone I know did, he didnâ€™t know what hit him when the slashing begun!)
Also, donâ€™t expect any large musical numbers with large casts dancing. The musical numbers are staged very intimately and characters do burst into song at the right moments. And itâ€™s a movie about cannibalism ferchrissakes! The last thing you want to see is a square full of townspeople singing about eating a little priest.