Few have mastered the macabre with the same flair as director Tim Burton. So much so that he was even asked to tackle the new Netflix series Wednesdaybased on the classic The Addams Family personage.
But Wednesday is not the first time that Burton has taken over a project from another designer. In 2007, he brought Stephen Sondheim’s classic to life Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The film adaptation is packed with songs that made Sondheim’s musical special and quotes that flesh out the stories behind the themes.
The beginning of the plan
“Finally! My arm is complete again!
Who is Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) without his very sharp and deadly straight razors? They are integral to who he is, who he was, and his preferred method of bloody revenge. In fact, Todd is so attached to his razors that he even considers them living entities that are physically part of him.
The line comes near the end of the song “My Friends”, an ode to his razors. “They’re my friends,” he sings, “see how they shine.” For Todd, it’s a meeting, meant to announce the start of his plan.
“If I can’t fly, let me sing…”
Poor Johanna (Jayne Wisener) really can’t catch a break. Both of her parents are gone, leaving her in the custody of Judge Turpin, the very man who tore her family apart. All her life she has been locked up in his house, a bird trapped in a cage.
It’s a tragic sentiment she echoes in “Green Finch and Linnet Bird,” where she asked her caged bird companions how they could sing. If she can’t escape, she reasons, then maybe she can learn to raise her voice in a song like them.
Judge Turpin’s review
“I don’t think so. You looked at my ward, Johanna. You looked at her. YES sir, you took a look!
Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) is a cruel man whose actions are governed by his desires. He lusted after Benjamin Barker’s wife, Lucy, and assaulted her. Now he keeps his daughter locked in the house, waiting until she is old enough to get married. And anyone who dares to watch it, including the enamored young Anthony (Jamie Campbell Bower), usually meets an unhappy end.
Turpin is bossy, manipulative, and paranoid. He views anything and anyone as a potential threat to his machinations and ultimate plans for Johanna. Of course, his attempts to control only hate her and run away from him.
A shocking twist
“Hey, don’t I know you, sir?” »
All along Sweeney Todd there is a beggar woman stumbling down the street mumbling incoherently. Generally, it is pushed aside or ignored by most actors. Even Todd himself doesn’t seem to give her more than a passing thought, focused on his revenge.
Which, it turns out, is a mistake. In one of the film’s biggest plot twists, the beggar is revealed to be his wife, Lucy, whom he had assumed to be dead. In a moment of clarity, she begins to recognize him. Unfortunately, he kills her. The fact that they both see each other, but miss each other’s identity is deeply tragic.
A big revelation
“Call me Davy. Davy Collins is the name when it’s not professional.
Most people in Sweeney Todd pretend to be something they are not. Todd wants to appear as a stand-up barber and lure Judge Turpin. Turpin wants to appear as a benevolent member of society. And Signor Adolfo Pirelli (Sacha Baron Cohen) poses as an Italian snake oil salesman.
But, of course, he is not. He’s a Cockney-accented Londoner who knows Sweeney Todd is Benjamin Barker. He tries to blackmail Todd, a move that causes him to fall into a meat pie. It’s a fun moment that highlights the intrigue that unfolds throughout the story.
Ms Lovett shows her ruthless side
“It seems like a terrible waste… I mean, with the price of meat what it is… When you get it, if you get it…”
Things are tough on the streets of 1800s London, and with rampant poverty and a lack of decent meat options, Mrs. Lovett’s shop isn’t faring so well. That’s until Todd shows up and starts murdering people, how Mrs. Lovett has a brilliant idea.
In “A Little Priest”, she proposes that they start using the bodies of Todd’s victims for their pies. It’s a horrifying notion, but also a hopeless one. The people of London are dying for good meat. It shows how resourceful yet ruthless Ms. Lovett can be.
Anthony comforts Johanna
“Johanna…when we’re free from this place, all the ghosts will be gone.”
Of all the Sweeney Todd characters, Anthony might be the only one you can call an optimist. Fittingly, his last name is Hope, and he’s probably the only one in history to have one. After meeting Johanna, he swears to rescue her from her golden cage and sets out to free her from Turpin.
All the characters, except Anthony, seem haunted, unable to free themselves from the past. Even Johanna seems to consider Anthony’s opinions naïve. And rightly so – the world she lives in is dark. This quote serves to underscore Anthony’s optimism and naivety.
Ms Lovett shows her true colors
“Better to think she’s dead. Yes, I lied because I love you!
Mrs. Lovett is a complicated character. She is resilient, focused and deeply devoted to Sweeney Todd. But she is also amoral, vicious and ready to do anything to get what she wants. But you can only go on lying and doing terrible things so long before there are consequences.
As she tries to sell the obfuscation of Lucy’s existence, Todd eventually learns that she was alive – and that he just accidentally killed her. And even though she describes it as kindness done out of love, it’s a lie he can’t stand.
Toby and Mrs. Lovett’s Bond
“No one will hurt you, no one will dare. Others can abandon you – don’t worry, whistle, I’ll be there.
Poor, sweet Toby is another character in the world of Sweeney Todd who is completely innocent. After being more or less adopted by Mrs. Lovett, he devotes himself to her health and happiness. Eventually, he begins to suspect that Todd is up to no good and swears he will make sure no one harms him.
But, while Mrs. Lovett shows some affection for Toby, ultimately her devotion rests solely with Todd. Like most characters, Todd’s evil eventually finds its way to Toby. The disturbing story ends with Toby killing Todd.
Sweeney Todd’s Tragic Chorus
“There was a barber and his wife, and she was beautiful. A stupid hairdresser and his wife. She was his reason and his life, and she was beautiful.
It’s a refrain that Todd utters repeatedly: “There was a barber and his wife…” He can’t let go of the picture of their lives, and the brutal way that perfect life was destroyed. It fuels his rage and becomes the only thing he lives for.
It’s tragic because, while he had a wonderful life in the past, his daughter is alive and well in the present. He could choose to make his life with her and move on, but he doesn’t. In the end, he doesn’t even recognize Johanna when he sees her.
Next: Every Stephen Sondheim Film Adaptation, Ranked According To IMDb
Vin Diesel Is Considering Directing A Fast & Furious Prequel With Actor Han
About the Author