Film: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
(subtitled "The Demon Barber of Fleet Street") is a 2007 Tim Burton
film starring Johnny Depp
, Alan Rickman
and Helena Bonham-Carter
It is based on the Sondheim musical of the same name
, which was based on the Christopher Bond version of the legendary story of an English barber who murdered his customers and, with the help of his neighbor Mrs. Lovett, made them into pies
In this version of the story, Todd is out to get revenge on a corrupt Judge who sent him to prison on false charges, raped his wife (who then poisoned herself), "adopted" his daughter Johanna fifteen years ago and plans to marry her
. Mrs. Lovett smoothly tries to dissuade him from this goal so that he can settle down with her and run a business, whilst Johanna takes a shine to a young sailor.
In addition to many of the tropes from the musical, the film provides examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: The film greatly tones down the subplot between Anthony and Johanna. All their duets from the musical have also been cut as a result.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Anthony has remarkably smooth skin despite his life at sea and the beating he takes early in the film. Similarly, Johanna after her time in the asylum is beautiful, even with her yellow hair perfectly combed.
- Bedlam House: Johanna's and probably Lucy's asylums.
- Bungled Suicide: Lucy's suicide attempt was unsuccessful, as Mrs Lovett reveals in the film's final sequence.
- Camera Abuse: Blood spatters the camera during Sweeney's rendition of "Johanna".
- Circle of Shame/Scream Discretion Shot: The climax of "Poor Thing".
- City Noir: Tim Burton's dark vision of Victorian London. Ominous steamy sewers, dark and polluted streets and alleys, dirty houses and filthy rooms, corrupted and utterly evil people... Not a nice place to live.
- Costume Porn: Lovett's dress in the final scene, and perhaps the one she wears in "God, That's Good".
- Crime After Crime
- Dark Reprise: "Not While I'm Around", "The Barber and his Wife".
- Demoted to Extra: Johanna goes from the second female lead to an almost silent Living MacGuffin. Really all of the supporting characters get a lot of their parts reduced as the film chooses to focus mostly on Todd, Lovett, and Toby. Pirelli is the only supporting character whose screen/stage time remains roughly unchanged.
- Double Meaning: "We'll serve anyone..."
- Downer Ending: Sweeney Todd may get his revenge, but he also unknowingly kills his long lost wife Lucy, and when he finds out Mrs. Lovett knew who Lucy was all along, he throws her into the oven to be burned alive. As he begins singing "The Barber and His Wife", Toby, who is implied to have been driven insane by what he has seen and done, emerges from the sewers and kills Todd himself, with his own razor, no less.
- Dulcinea Effect: Anthony comes across this way - see Relationship Compression for the reason.
- Evil Makeover: Sorta, or something. When Todd and Mrs. Lovett take Toby under their wing, Toby starts to get some characteristics from them, mostly the untamed hair and some eyebags and very pale skin.
- Fauxreigner: Adolfo Pirelli a.k.a. Davey Collins (played by the English - and very Jewish - Sacha Baron Cohen).
- Gorn: Oh so very much. There are many graphic close-ups of throats being slashed and stabbed, the blood spurting out.
- Hanging Judge: Judge Turpin, even more than in the stage version. There's a new scene in which he sentences a preteen to death, and it's not really clear whether the charge is true or not — and as he and the Beadle walk out of the courtroom, the Beadle expresses that the kid "must have done something to warrant a hanging." The judge agrees, as in his worldview, everyone has done something along those lines.
- Hide Your Pregnancy: Helena Bonham-Carter was pregnant during the film production, resulting in magical size-changing breasts over the course of the movie.
- High-Pressure Blood: Every throat that is slit by Todd's razor gushes rivers of blood.
- Ironic Echo: "Life is for the alive, my dear." Said first by Mrs. Lovett, trying to get Sweeney to move on from his dead wife. Sweeney says this line in the final song, right before, having realized her betrayal, throwing Mrs. Lovett into the oven.
- Also in the same sequence, Mrs Lovett continually calls out "Poor thing!" when she reveals what actually happened to Lucy, just as she did when she lied about her.
- Kick the Dog: In addition to most of the moments from the stage version, there's the Beadle, on orders from Turpin, beating Anthony bloody for the crime of "gandering" at Johanna.
- Kill 'em All: Were you expecting this movie to have a different, yet happy ending? Even though this is a film version of a revenge tragedy? Sweeney Todd, Judge Turpin, Lucy, and Mrs. Lovett are all dead. Only Toby, Johanna, and Anthony are all alive. Toby is a murderer now. Anthony and Johanna do not appear at the end and are presumed to have escaped. Just before the end, Johanna got the clues needed to figure out that Sweeney was her father and that he murdered her mother as well as Turpin. It remains unknown whether she - or the law - ever actually figures it out.
- Large Ham: Johnny Depp
- Pirelli is, intentionally, this way. When he's not doing the Pirelli act and just being Davey Collins, he is more sedate, softer-spoken, and not at all flamboyant.
- Living MacGuffin: Johanna is, more or less, reduced to this in the film.
- Looks Like Cesare: Both Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett, owing to Tim Burton who loves this trope in general.
- Love Triangle: Two of these - one regular and one insane.
- Johanna is loved by Turpin and Anthony. Will she choose the beautiful young man who might help her break free — or the creepy guy who has the power to hurt her if she defies him?
- Lovett and Todd have a duet where they sing about their one true love, using the same words of affection in unison. However: Lovett loves Todd, while Todd loves... a set of razors. From that point on, the things Lovett and Todd do for love just keep getting more and more depraved.
- Morton's Fork: Sweeney uses this to justify killing everyone. Either you're powerful, because you're evil, and therefore you deserve to die, or you're good, so you're oppressed, and therefore "death will be a relief".
- Mood Dissonance: "A Little Priest" is a cheerful, upbeat, pun-laden tune... about cannibalism.
- Of Corsets Sexy: Well, it is Helena Bonham Carter, after all.
- Ominous Pipe Organ: In the movie's opening theme.
- The Ophelia: The Beggar Woman/Lucy.
- Painting the Medium: During "Johanna (reprise)", when blood spatters on the edge of the camera lens.
- Parasol of Prettiness: Mrs. Lovett has a cream parasol with red polka dots during her "I Want" Song "By the Sea" — she would like to be a lady and have a happy family.
- Pet the Dog: When Toby almost catches Sweeney killing Pirelli. Rather than kill him, Todd tells Toby to go downstairs so that Lovett could make him a Meat Pie. When Toby didn't budge, Sweeney sweetens the deal by saying that, he is allowed to have some Gin with it. Which causes the boy to rush downstairs in excitement.
- Pietà Plagiarism: Sweeney cradling the body of his dead wife at the end of the film version before Toby kills him.
- Pretty Boy: Anthony.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: The last words Sweeney yells to Judge Turpin. "BENJAMIN BARKER!"
- Rape Discretion Shot/Scream Discretion Shot: Judge Turpin's rape of Lucy is filmed this way.
- Rasputinian Death: During the final vengeance scene Judge Turpin is stabbed in the throat multiple times, eventually has his throat slit and is sent falling down a presumably long shaft. Even after that, he manages to survive long enough to grab for Mrs. Lovett's dress before he finally dies.
- Reality Ensues: Once Sweeney's finished singing 'Epiphany', Mrs Lovett - not looking at all impressed - asks dryly "That's all very well, but what're we going to do about him?" Alluding to Pirelli's corpse stuffed in the trunk. Cue Todd awkwardly getting up off his knees.
- Relationship Compression: In the stage version, Anthony and Johanna have quite a few duets with each other, and both are at least a little more badass. But in the film they cut out almost all of their scenes to just the bare bones, and making Anthony come off as a rather creepy stalker obsessing so much over a girl he only looked at through a window once.
- Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny: Judge Turpin fills this role, fooling himself that he can protect young Johanna from the evil of other men's sexuality by forcing her to marry him and satisfy his own selfish lust. Judge Turpin is also shown in a flashback to have raped Todd's wife at a party with the witnesses laughing after having Todd shipped off to who-knows-where.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Mrs. Lovett looks less mousy and disheveled, and more well-dressed as the plot progresses.
- Inverted with Lucy, who goes from a well-dressed beauty to an almost unrecognizable beggar.
- Shout-Out: Sweeney's hair and wardrobe resemble the lead singer of The Damned in a concert video of their song Video Nasty.
- Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Several main characters were left out of promotions. Some made sense like not revealing Laura Michelle Kelly also played the Beggar Woman but others were odd, such as Toby.
- Skunk Stripe: Sweeney Todd.
- Slashed Throat: Sweeney's preferred method of killing.
- That Man Is Dead: "I'm Todd now. Sweeney Todd."
- Trailers Always Lie: Thanks to the film's advertising, many people had no idea it was a musical until they saw it in theaters.
- Troubled Backstory Flashback: "A Barber And His Wife" and "Poor Thing".
- Unholy Matrimony: Mrs. Lovett tries to make this with Todd.
- Wife Husbandry: Turpin and his ward, Johanna.
- Wham Line: "Don't I know you, Mister?" Especially in hindsight.
- Would Hurt a Child: Just after killing Pirelli Sweeney calmly tells Mrs. Lovett to send Toby up. She protects the boy, but Sweeney's intentions are very clear. However, he does hesitate to kill a father with his child, probably because he identifies with that man.