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Sweeney Todd Is The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Apr 27, 2008
Sweeney Todd is a character who has been present in literature, films, urban legends, and plays since the late 1800s. The stories that are told usually follow the same basic structure of a mad barber who murders his customers with a straight razor, and then dumps them into a pit below his shop where the bodies are turned into meat pies by his partner in crime, love, or merely friend depending on the version, Mrs. Lovett.

Where this legend came from, nobody quite knows for sure, but the best guess has always been that Mr. Todd first appeared in a penny dreadful, the 1800s equivalent of a pulp magazine.

In 1979, a musical based on the legend was created. This musical, titled Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, was widely acclaimed. The musical expanded on the story. In this interpretation, Todd began as barber Benjamin Barker, who is happily married to his wife Lucy with a baby daughter, Johanna.

The lecherous Judge Turpin, who is envious of Barker's life, has him imprisoned in Australia while Turpin causes the death of Barker's life and takes his daughter. Having escaped, Barker creates his new identity of Sweeney Todd, as he goes back to his old home he meets Mrs. Lovett, a meat pie baker who makes The worst meat pies in London.

As Todd sets out to get his revenge, he sets up an arrangement for Mrs. Lovett to use the bodies of his victims for meat for her pies, which quickly became the biggest food sensation in London.

In 2007, the musical was turned into a motion picture starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Alan Rickman, directed by Tim Burton. This version of the story translates very well to the big screen with Depp giving one of his finest performances as Todd with Bonham Carter doing very well as Mrs. Lovett.

The film remains very faithful to the musical and the stars show off their great singing ability. The film even managed to earn the Golden Globe for Best Picture (Musical/Comedy).

The cast of the film play off of each other very well and this is crucial to making it work. In fact, possibly the only problem one could find with the film is that there are some scenes that seem to go to fast, and the ending happens before the audience even realizes it is the ending. Apart from that, Sweeney Todd is a fine addition to Tim Burton's long list of quirky films.
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