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YMMV / Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

The musical

  • Alternate Show Interpretation: The 2005 Broadway revival, in which all of the characters are portrayed as inmates enacting the events in a madhouse.
    • The 2012 West End production gave a Setting Update by placing the show in the 1930s.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: All over the place. Toby, for one. As the role is vocally demanding, adults are often cast in the part, which makes for the question of whether Toby is a kid or a mentally disabled man. For that note, the motives of the Beadle are ambiguous, whether he's a psychopath who's as bad as the judge or just a police officer who sincerely believes the judge is a good man. Then there's the matter of whether Anthony is a romantic hero who saves Johanna from the Judge or if he's a creepy stalker (though he's definitely a major step-up from Judge Turpin).
  • Awesome Music: "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd", "Epiphany", and "A Little Priest", just to name a few. Well... really the entire song list (given the right cast) but bonus points go to "Johanna (Reprise)".
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The judge's sentencing of a young boy to hanging, though he is a four-time offender. The musical obviously wants to criticise atrocities committed in the name of the law that were acceptable back then, as children were treated the same way as adults. This is noticeably shortened to one previous offense in the film to make it even worse.
  • Ear Worm: Just try to get ANY of the songs out of your head after viewing the theater or movie version. It's bloody impossible (but delightfully so).
    • Beadle deedle deedle deedle deedle dumpling beadle dumpling ba deedle deedle deedle deedle deedle deedle deedle deedle deedle deedle deedle deedle deedle...
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Toby in the 2001 concert version, for some reason.
  • Ho Yay: In the movie, there seem to be overtones of this between Beadle Bamford and Judge Turpin. Mostly coming from Bamford's end, though it IS kinda odd that he seems to spend so much time with the judge...
    • Notably, in the stage musical it's made clear in the reprise in The Barber and His Wife that both Turpin and Bamford have a thing for Lucy. In the movie, however, the lyrics are changed so that only the Judge's affections are mentioned.
    • He may be only Turpin's Igor.
  • Incest Subtext: Todd's "Johanna (Reprise)", hinting it would be dangerous for him to meet Johanna if she looks too much like her mother...
  • Jerkass Woobie: Mrs. Lovett, who is something of a Love Martyr.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Sweeney, himself if you consider that apart from his general wit, he smartly tricked both Bamford and Judge Turpin to come to his barbershop.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The "Poor Thing" scene with Judge Turpin and Lucy Barker, and the scene where Mrs. Lovett locks Toby in the meat-grinder basement so Sweeney can kill him.
    • It was made clear that Mrs. Lovett understood what she was doing, since she was crying throughout. Creepy.
    • Sweeney killing the beggar woman, who ironically turns out to be his own wife, in his haste to leave no witnesses...followed by him almost killing his own daughter for the same reason.
  • Most Annoying Sound / Hell Is That Noise: The terrifyingly loud, shrill sound of the factory whistle.
  • Narm: Toby reciting pat-a-cake before slitting Todd's throat can be this if not executed properly.
  • Nightmare Fuel: After you get over the murderous barber and the cannibalism, enjoy your nightmares about the mentally deranged manchild. I can't sleep, Toby will get me.
    • Toby's pat-a-cake-pat-a-cake at the end, Judge Turpin, The tooth pulling scene (in the original), the 2005 revival.
    • "Epiphany" is particularly horrifying. Watching Sweeney take a flying leap into the pit of insanity, combined with the song's tendency to switch between his declaring vengeance on all of humanity and mourning his wife and daughter.
    • The beggar woman becomes that much more horrifically tragic when you realize she's Sweeney's wife and the combination of the traumatic assault and attempted suicide have left her a shell of her former self.
    • Judge Turpin's song Johanna is often cut...and for good reason. A horror-thriller musical about serial killers and cannibalism is disturbing enough but Johanna (Judge's Reprise) takes it to a whole new level.
    • Then there's Fogg's Asylum...
  • Paranoia Fuel: A trip to the barber's or a pie shop both made very creepy for the Victorian audience. For the typical modern audiences, this story has made the straight razor unsettlingly best known as a weapon of murder.
    • The finale reprise of "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" invokes this trope with its lyrics, culminating with the company shouting "There he is! It's Sweeney!" and pointing out at the audience.
    Perhaps today, you gave a nod
    To Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street?
    No one can help, nothing can hide you,
    Isn't that Sweeney there beside you?
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: The romance subplot between Johanna and Anthony, particularly in the film where Relationship Compression comes into play and Anthony is portrayed as an insufferable bishie wannabe.
    • On the other hand, another way to see them is as a parallel to the Todd/Lucy couple ("she was beautiful, and he was naive", particularly if you take the interpretations where Johanna is crazy into account)
  • Squick: The whole thing is pretty squicky, but Judge Turpin gets a special mention for "Johanna (Mea Culpa)," where he flagellates himself to orgasm while watching his teenaged ward through a keyhole. While singing. It was cut from the original Broadway production, and, unsurprisingly, it's only occasionally reinstated. When done well, the sequence can be one of the most chilling in the show...which is about serial murder and cannibalism.
  • Tear Jerker: During the "Final Scene", just after throwing Mrs. Lovett into the oven, Sweeney returns to his dead wife's side. In the original version of the scene, he sings a reprise of "Not While I'm Around", which has since been replaced with a reprise of "The Barber and His Wife". Either one fits this trope.
    • Sweeney Todd's reaction in general to him accidentally killing his wife. Imagine if you were in his position. You killed the person you love the most and you had no idea it was them the whole time. Some versions have him look so anguished as he stands over her corpse. Some also have him cradle her body before Toby slashes his throat.
  • What an Idiot:
    • Anthony when he bursts into Sweeney's barber shop in the midst of his shaving of Judge Turpin. What was he expecting?
    • One wonders why Sweeney takes Lovett's advice to be patient in plotting his revenge at heart, spending his sweet time singing along with Turpin about pretty women. What was he expecting? Although... see "Squick" above.
    • Mrs. Lovett, keeping Lucy a secret from Todd when she kept coming around her shop. Sweeney's shown no hesitation in killing anyone who's crossed him, particularly in regards to his family. What was she expecting?
    • Pirelli, confronting a man who's been in prison for fifteen years, and blackmailing him. What was he expecting?
  • The Woobie:
    • Toby, poor kid.
    • Johanna too, seeing what she's had to live with.
    • The Beggar Woman

The 2007 film

  • Awesome Music: Not sure about the original musical, but the quiet interplay between Turpin and Todd in "Pretty Women" is incredibly good, especially as it builds to that crescendo at the very end.
  • Complete Monster: Judge Turpin is a corrupt Hanging Judge in Victorian London and the man who begins Sweeney's start of darkness when, lusting after the then-younger barber's wife, Turpin has him imprisoned on a penal colony for decades of hard labor so he can seduce his wife. When she refuses, Turpin has her lured to his home under pretense of offering to free her husband- but rapes her instead, and steals her daughter as his ward. Turpin guards her jealously, having a younger sailor brutally beaten for looking at her and plans to marry her himself. When she refuses and tries to run away he sends her to an asylum where he knows she'll be mistreated. At another point, Turpin sentences a little boy to death by hanging...and then asks his sidekick, the Beadle Bamford, if the boy was even guilty of anything.
  • Creepy Awesome/Evil Is Sexy: Sweeney Todd
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Besides the fun songs, the theme and setting is grim, and most characters are jerks.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett, Alan Rickman as Judge Turpin and Timothy Spall as the Beadle all by virtue of giving better performances than Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd.
  • Genius Bonus: Pirelli boasts that he had Shaved the Pope himself, while mocking Sweeney that probably thinks it was only a Cardinal, followed by Toby showing a portrait of the Pope. Given that the story should take place in 1846, it was the same year that Pope Pius IX was elected Pope, which would explain how Pirelli might have really shaved the Italian cardinal Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti who became the Pope, giving him the edge by technicallity.
    • Although the written "Thanks for da Shave - The Pope" on the portrait is rather suspicious on Pirelli's part. Not to mention that we later learn Pirelli is a false identity, giving further evidence that it was all just made up.
  • He Really Can Act (and sing!): Sacha Baron Cohen plays Pirelli.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: When the movie came out, it was noted that there were three Harry Potter alums in the film. The actor who played Anthony later played Grindelwald, so that's four. Not to mention that three of the four played Death Eaters, and all their HP characters were, at one point or another, bad guys. Dark Wizard reunion!
  • Love It or Hate It: Critics, general audiences, and Sondheim, who was heavily consulted, himself love the film, but some serious fans of the stage show despise it. The main reason for the divide comes down to the performances, with fans of the film loving the actors in it, and haters feeling they're butchering Sondheim's score.
  • Moe: Toby, before he becomes a Creepy Child.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The rape scene. Jesus Christ, the rape scene. Some consider it to be the scariest scene in the movie. Not helped at all by Judge Turpin's creepy-ass owl mask.
    • ALL of the throat-slitting scenes! Unlike the stage show, which use clearly harmless stage trickery, this movie loves getting up close to the victim's throats as Todd really digs his razor in, blood splattering everywhere, complete with nauseating sound-effects to make it extra-visceral.
    • The beggar woman's capacity for this was ramped right up for the movie.
    • The scene with Toby in the evil basement, when the poor kid finally learns what's in the pies — and then has to watch as the just-murdered Beadle Bamford gets dumped right down into the basement with him. And then Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney come down into the sewer looking for him because they want to murder him too.
    • When Sweeney finds out Lovett lied to him, he takes her off her guard by dancing with her - and throws her into the furnace. Unlike the stage play, we can see exactly what happens as she screams and thrashes while she burns up. The last shot of her shows a shrieking, thrashing black thing, with her face reduced to The Blank by the sheer amount of damage it's taken.
      • Imagine being Mrs. Lovett and what you're thinking in that situation. The person you love finds out that you indirectly killed their wife by lying to them about if their spouse was alive or not. But suddenly, the person you're in love with is okay with that! You start dancing with him and he's saying that she's already dead and that there's no point in worrying about the past. You think you're gonna marry him, live together in your dream world when suddenly, he throws you into an open oven. As you're screaming in pain and agony, he closes the oven door with an expressionless look on his face. And that's how you die...
    • Toby killing Todd. In the play, his Heroic BSOD is shown by having him stumble about while mumbling nursery rhymes with a crazed half-laugh. Here? He crawls out of the sewer, casually picks up Todd's razor, kills him where he stands and lumbers out the door. All while completely stone-faced.
    • The fate of Fogg. Instead of being shot dead by Johanna like in the play, Anthony spirits her away from the asylum, leaving him "to the mercy of (his)... 'children.'" No sooner do the couple leave the cell than Fogg is immediately swarmed and violently ripped apart by a gaggle of his deranged female prisoners, emaciated and unkempt enough to resemble a zombie horde. Considering at the very least that he probably didn't feed them well, and the core story involves cannibalism...
    • Less severe than other examples (because he's shown to be completely fine a couple scenes later,) but the Beadle's absolutely brutal beating towards poor Antony is pretty hard to watch. Especially because Antony is one of the only genuinely kind and sympathetic characters in the film.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Hey girls, it's Caius playing Anthony!
  • Tear Jerker: "Forget my face."
    • The rape scene.
    • The "Johanna" reprise, which implies that as much as Sweeney misses his daughter and hopes to have her back, he really can't help but to feel a deep disconnection.
    • "Not While I'm Around" is more of a Fridge Horror tearjerker, since it all goes waaaaaay downhill from there.
      • In the film adaptation, Mrs. Lovett, trying to conceal her anguish as she tries to remain cheerful around Toby, sensing that bad things will come for Toby because he voiced his suspicions about Todd.
    • Anthony's and Johanna's final interaction on-screen. He assures her that they can leave all the "ghosts" behind. However, Johanna disagrees, believing that the ghosts would never die. Although its implied they did manage to escape Tupin's clutches and move on, Johanna knows that the trauma will always haunt her.
    • The final scenes with Todd, taking the dead Lucy on his arms, and Toby slashing his throat and he cradling her while slowly dying. Todd may have ended up becoming a psychopath, but the look on his eyes is the look of a completely broken man. Can you say Stoic Woobie?