Sweeney Todd, a musical thriller with significant aesthetics!

A Theatrical Poster made for the 2007 movie Sweeney Todd.

A Theatrical Poster made for the 2007 movie Sweeney Todd.

The 2007 musical horror film, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, was a great movie filled with acting, singing, and a lot of great aesthetics used throughout it.  The movie was directed by Tim Burton and produced by Richard Zanuck.

This movie that was a remake of the 1979 musical created by Steven Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler, I felt was a terrific movie to watch and was filmed brilliantly with many different color schemes and actions scenes throughout it.

The main plot of the movie is about Sweeney Todd originally Benjamin Barker, who is back in London after serving a jail sentence for crime he did not commit in the 1830’s. Judge Turpin was interested in Barker’s wife, and simply falsely labeled a crime to Barker to get him out-of-the-way. 15 years later Barker is back in London after escaping prison, and decides to become a barber in town once again. He soon learns from Mrs. Lovett, that his wife Lucy had poisoned herself when she was raped by Turpin when Barker was in prison. Lovett also tells Todd that his teenage daughter Johanna is now Turpin’s ward.

Lovett allows Todd to use the upper part of her Meat Pie Shop as his Hair Cuttery. Todd vows revenge on Turpin for what he had done before, and begins making a name for himself in town as the “best barber”. Throughout the movie, Todd continues killing countless customers with his razor, and Mrs. Lovett uses the bodies for her meat pies, which later becomes a hit delicacy among the town.

Todd’s close friend and sailor Anthony Hope sees Johanna and becomes interested in her and wanting to be with her. However, Turpin finds out of his interest in Johanna and warns Anthony that he will be disciplined if he doesn’t stay away from the girl. Turpin ultimately sends Johanna to an insane asylum to keep her away from Anthony. Anthony decides to come up with a plan to get her out and eventually does free Johanna from the asylum. Turpin’s accomplice Beadle Bamford comes to Mrs’. Lovett’s shop to tell her about the complaints coming from townspeople about the smell coming from her chimney. Todd distracts Bamford and offers him a free shave, in which Bamford is killed later by Todd.

Johanna is then taken to Todd where he keeps her hidden in a safe casket that is in his shop. A local stranger who has been keeping watch of the shop’s successes arrives, and threatens to snitch on the plan that Todd and Mrs. Lovett have together. She too is also killed by Todd and dumped to the cooking room. Turpin arrives and is persuaded by Todd to get a shave to attract more women. Todd eventually shows his true self to Turpin and begins stabbing the judge violently in the neck, his throat is slit and he too is dumped to the cooking room.

Todd spares the life of Johanna and tells her to forget his face and to start a new life. He hurries to the cooking room when he heard Mrs. Lovett scream after a still alive Turpin tried to grab her. Todd notices the body of the stranger and realizes that it was actually his wife Lucy. Lovett confesses to Todd that she misled him to think Lucy was dead, because she too loved Todd. Todd begins manically waltzing with her and later throwing her into the furnace and locking her to die inside. Toby, the teenage boy who is brought in by Lovett to help work for her as a waiter, grabs Todd’s razor and slits Todd’s throat leaving him to bleed to death while holding his dead wife Lucy.

This movie had great aesthetics throughout it, especially with the color schemes used in it. A lot of the colors were dark and cold to show the personality that Todd has after he seeks revenge on Judge Turpin. A lot of black, grey and white were used in the Barber Shop to symbolize the coldness in Todd’s heart and fact that death would approach any person that walked into that barber shop. Also, a lot of different camera shots were used in the movie, such as from above, from the ground up, and from other angles as well.

I think that the aesthetics played a big role in making this movie a successful one. A lot of the dark colors made it hard to see the characters, however I think it showed the personality of a lot of the characters in the movie. The setting of the movie was in London, which is usually a dark and rainy place. I think the colors helped show what London was like in the 1800-1900’s. Also, the movie has a Gothic look to it, which seemed common in London during this time period. A lot of the wardrobe’s for the characters also helped show their personality too. Todd and Lovett usually were seen wearing white, black, and grey to help with color scheme in the movie.  I feel overall this movie had great aesthetics and played a big role in helping show the movie in the London setting, the Gothic look, and the story of an enraged serial killer.

Here is an interview I found from the New York Times newspaper with Director Tim Burton, in which Burton talks about Sweeney Todd and the aesthetics that went into it. I hope you enjoy it! http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/04/movies/moviesspecial/04gold.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Thanks for reading, and I hope after reading this you understand the aesthetic values used in Tim Burton’s musical horror “Sweeney Todd”.

-LH

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