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Film / Sweeney Todd

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Sweeney Todd is a film made by the BBC in 2006. It is mostly based on the original legend of Sweeney Todd, as written by Preskett Prest (or Rymer) in The String of Pearls but deviates from this somewhat as well as including elements from Sondheim's musical. It gives Sweeney a Dark and Troubled Past (read: Freudian Excuse) and fleshes out his relationship with Mrs Lovett.

Quite apart from the other known adaptations, most of which are set in the Victorian era (and very well project the part), this adaptation actually moves the setting further back in time, to somewhere in the mid-18th century, around when King George III was a young man, as evidenced by all the powdered wigs and tricornes. The original story may have been written in the Victorian era, but as it was apparently a period piece even for its time, the creators of this adaptation sought to recreate more of the original, mid-Georgian setting.


This film provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Both Sweeney and Mrs Lovett. They're actually pretty nice people, both of them, once you get past the murder, cannibalism and sexual perversion.
  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": The pies are made with human flesh.
  • Antagonist Title: Provided you consider Sweeney an antagonist... this is debatable.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Sweeney himself... when it comes to abortions, at least.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. It's actually a plot point; Mrs Lovett can't bear the thought of her beauty being damaged, and has to come to terms with it.
  • Blatant Lies: "I did what I could..."
  • British Stuffiness: "Have you been... intimate... with him?" Justified in that it's set in the mid-1700s.
  • Coitus Ensues
  • Crazy Jealous Guy
  • Dangerously Close Shave: Particularly towards the end of the film where Sweeney can barely restrain himself.
  • Deus Angst Machina:
    • Sweeney's mother gets consumption when he's seven, sending him away so that he doesn't get to be by her side as she dies. His dad is a crooked arsehole who manages to get Sweeney's brother hanged and Sweeney imprisoned for twenty years for his crimes. No wonder the poor guy goes crazy.
    • Mrs Lovett is married to a horrible man who beats her, then falls in love with somebody who seems protective, kind and understanding but is actually a serial killer.
  • Evil Brit: Quite possibly the most famous evil Brit in fiction.
  • Gorn: Some.
  • Green-Eyed Monster
  • Ho Yay: A certain "thank you for saving my life" hug.
  • I'm a Humanitarian
  • If I Can't Have You...: Sweeney. Despite refusing to sleep with Mrs Lovett himself, he proceeds to kill on all of her subsequent lovers. After watching them do it...
  • Ill Girl: Mrs Lovett. Also, Sweeney's mother, though she never appears as a character.
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  • Love Hungry: Both Sweeney and Mrs Lovett. In a literal sort of way.
  • Meatgrinder Surgery: Justified, given the time frame. Sweeney isn't incompetent for a man of his day.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: More like "Murder The Hypotenuses", plural. One after the other.
  • Not So Stoic: Sweeney's facade slips when he talks about the death of his mother. It slips a good deal more shortly afterwards.
  • The Peeping Tom: And not played for laughs.
  • Really Gets Around: Mrs Lovett. Sadly, she pays the price.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Heartbreakingly deconstructed. Mrs Lovett, after the convenient death of her abusive husband, falls in love with what she thinks is a good man, not realising that he was responsible for the above convenient death.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Well, given that any modern retelling of the Sweeney Todd legend runs on this the way cars do on petrol, it's not really a surprise.
  • What Does She See in Him?: The BBC do everything in their power to avert this where Sweeney is concerned. Mrs Lovett's reasons for loving him (initially, at least) are very plausible. Her care for her first husband, a Jerkass wife-beater without a single redeeming feature, is a much straighter example of the trope.

Example of: