Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street


Release Date: 25th January 2008
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: John Logan
Producer: Richard D. Zanuck, John Logan and Walter F. Parkes
Executive Producer: Patrick McCormick

Runtime: 1hr 54mins
Language: English

Synopsis

In the 19th century, Benjamin Barker, a skilled barber, returns to London assuming the alias “Sweeney Todd”, accompanied by sailor Anthony Hope. Fifteen years earlier, Barker had been falsely charged and banished by the corrupt Judge Turpin, who had lusted after his wife, Lucy. At Mrs. Nellie Lovett’s meat pie shop on Fleet Street, he learns that Lucy poisoned herself with arsenic after Turpin raped her. Todd’s teenage daughter Johanna is now Turpin’s ward and, like her mother before her, is the object of Turpin’s lust. Todd vows revenge, reopening his barber shop in the upstairs flat after Mrs. Lovett returns his old straight razors to him.

While roaming London, Anthony spots Johanna in an upstairs room of a large house singing to her birds, and a beggar woman tells him her name. Anthony is instantly smitten with her, and Turpin invites him in, only for Turpin’s associate Beadle Bamford to throw him out. Though Bamford warns Anthony that he will be punished if he is seen there again, the sailor becomes convinced that he and Johanna are meant to be together.

During a visit to the marketplace, Todd denounces a fraudulent hair tonic by faux-Italian barber Adolfo Pirelli, and humiliates him in a public shaving contest, winning £5 and gaining the attention of Beadle Bamford. A few days later, Pirelli and his boy assistant Tobias Ragg arrive. Mrs. Lovett keeps Toby occupied downstairs, while in the parlour Pirelli reveals himself to be Todd’s former assistant, Davy Collins, and threatens to reveal Todd’s secret to Beadle Bamford unless Todd gives him half his earnings. Instead of giving Pirelli a pay-off, Todd beats him with a boiling kettle. He then stuffs Pirelli in a trunk to hide him from Toby, later slitting his throat upon realizing that he is still alive.

After receiving some advice from Beadle, Turpin, intending to propose to Johanna, pays a visit to Todd’s parlor to groom himself. Todd shaves Turpin while preparing to slit his throat; before he can do so, however, he is interrupted by Anthony, who bursts in and reveals his plan to elope with Johanna before he realizes Turpin is there. Turpin leaves enraged, vowing never to return. His chance at revenge missed, Todd swears revenge on the entire world and vents his murderous rage upon his customers while waiting for another chance to kill Turpin. He kills aristocrats and commoners alike, believing that he is punishing the former for their exploitation of those below them, while saving the latter from their misery. Mrs. Lovett becomes his willing accomplice, suggesting they dispose of the bodies by baking them into pies to improve her business. Todd rigs his barber’s chair with a pedal-operated mechanism, which deposits his victims through a trap door into Lovett’s bakehouse. Meanwhile, Anthony begins to search for Johanna, who was sent by Turpin to Fogg’s insane asylum upon discovering her plans to elope with Anthony.

The barbering and pie-making business prospers, and Lovett takes in Toby. With both of the shops being such a success, Mrs. Lovett tells an uninterested Todd of her plans to marry him and move to the seaside. Anthony finally discovers Johanna’s whereabouts, and under advice from Todd, he poses as a wig-maker’s apprentice, who are allowed into asylums to collect hair for wigs, thus providing him the access he needs to rescue Johanna. Todd comes up with a new plan to lure Turpin back, and has Toby deliver a letter to him telling him where Johanna will be brought when Anthony frees her. Toby has become wary of Todd and tells Mrs. Lovett, unaware of her role in the crimes: he promises to protect her, loving her as a surrogate mother only to discover that she possesses his old boss Pirelli’s purse, but she quickly explains that it was a gift from Todd and that she is not suspicious of him and so Toby shouldn’t either. Beadle Bamford arrives at the barber shop, informing them that neighbours complain of the stink coming out of the chimney. He is murdered by Todd, and Mrs. Lovett informs him of Toby’s suspicions. The pair search for Toby, whom Mrs. Lovett has locked in the basement bakehouse to keep him out of the way. Toby is nowhere to be found, having hidden in the sewers after seeing the Beadle’s body drop into the room from the trap door above, as well as finding a toe in a pie. Meanwhile, Anthony frees Johanna and brings her to the shop in disguise, while locking an asylum staff-member in a cell, where it is implied the inmates kill him. In Todd’s shop Johanna hides herself in a trunk in a corner of the room while Anthony finds a coach.

The insane beggar woman who has been pestering Todd, Lovett and Anthony throughout the film makes her way into the shop seemingly searching for the Beadle. As Todd enters, she claims that she recognizes him. Just then, Turpin’s voice is heard. Todd quickly slits the beggar woman’s throat and deposits her body through the trap door. As Turpin enters, Todd explains to him that Johanna had repented, and offers a free shave. Todd reveals his true identity to Turpin and stabs him in the neck numerous times before finally slitting his throat and dropping him through the trap door. As Johanna peeks out of the trunk, Todd spots her and prepares to slit her throat as well, not recognizing her as his daughter. Upon hearing a scream from Lovett, he is distracted. He tells Johanna to “forget my face”, and leaves her alive in his shop. Todd runs to the basement, where he discovers that the beggar woman was his wife Lucy, whom he had believed to be dead based on Lovett’s account of the poisoning. Todd realizes that Lovett knew Lucy was alive, and she attempts to convince him that she misled him for his own good, confessing she loves him. Todd pretends to forgive her, waltzing maniacally with her around the bakehouse before hurling her into the open furnace and locking her in. He returns to Lucy and cradles her dead body in his arms. Having witnessed the death of the only mother he has ever known, a vengeful Toby emerges from the sewer, picks up the discarded razor and slits Todd’s throat. The film ends with Toby walking away as Todd bleeds to death over his dead wife.

Cast

Johnny Depp…as Benjamin Barker / Sweeney Todd
Helena Bonham Carter…as Mrs. Lovett
Alan Rickman…as Judge Turpin
Jamie Campbell Bower…as Anthony Hope
Jayne Wisener…as Johanna Barker
Ed Sanders…as Toby Ragg
Laura Michelle Kelly…as Lucy Barker
Timothy Spall…as Beadle Bamford
Sacha Baron Cohen…as Adolfo Pirelli / Davy Collins

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Awards

Won:
2007: Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress
2009: Empire Award for Best Actress

Nominated:
2008: Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
2008: Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
2008: Italian Online Movie Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
2008: London Film Critics’ Circle Award for British Actress of the Year
2008: National Movie Award for Best Performance – Female
2008: Saturn Award for Best Actress
2008: Scream Award for Best Actress in a Horror Movie or Show