Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (2007)


(too much) classic

This is made out of a clear line which is perverted, and twisted, according to Burton’s own visual way to put things together. In other words, we have a classical musical and a classical Burton. We get music as “numbers” in the sort of construction the classic American musicals used, borrowed from Italian opera (bel canto, mainly). This structure uses songs where opera used arias (reflection moments), and dialogs where opera placed recitation (action moving further). Burton doesn’t try to change a bit of this. I’m OK with this. Despite the musical genre has been getting some interesting new additions in recent years (Moulin Rouge stands out here), i think it’s plausible to recover the classic form. Over that fully developed (and recognizable) structure, Burton places his personal vision. His concerns have much to do with image, the power of a vision, an environment, than it has to do with space. When he is able to pull off that vision with power (Batman, Ed Wood, Edward…) he creates a truly deep, visual, and lasting experience. Batman was specially well done, because it is spatially deep, as well as visually.

This film is minor work, in the big picture of Burton’s work. I think that happens because none of it is fresh. The base form, i mentioned it, is classic, and this Burton is also classic. the breaks he introduces were fresh once, and because they were fresh they were spontaneous. Here, things are more predictable. I supposed the pretended effect would be something of a contrast between what we are accustomed to get from a musical with Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire, and the gore/Burton imagery which includes blood in great amounts, dark environment, twisted characters (here they are all twisted, except the “old” woman and the young lover). That contrast is felt in some spaces, it works out as something funny, rooted on a comedy sense of absurd, strange things and the way we react to them.

Depp with Bonham Carter is a good team, here i think it is more effective than the more media-tic Depp/Burton. Johnny Depp is someone who is beyond the ‘method’, and to my view, he is adding new steps to the path Brando walked in his artistic life. I suspect something about him, but i need confirmation, that may come with a future important film he makes. He started his career on the footsteps of Brando, someone who eliminated from his characters the overly dramatic, distracting kind of acting, more suited to theatre than to cinema. He understood cinema acting as 3dimensional acting, meaning that he represents some characters, but over that he layers other meanings, personal annotations, a kind of deepness impossible to achieve with theatre (John Malkovich and Bruce Willis created personal versions of this kind of way to act). Now, i suspect, Depp is somehow coming back to those theatrical roots. He is getting ‘stagy’ on purpose, he is allowing for the audience to understand in many moments that he is really acting, performing, standing on a stage. I don’t know where he may be getting to with this, it may even be a wrong impression based on recent parts, but i’m really interested in following this possible thread Depp is building. Buy now i don’t dislike what he is doing, but i want to check where this goes.

My opinion: 3/5 you have better rides to try from Burton, and from Burton/Depp

This comment on IMDb


2 Responses to “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)”

  1. 1 Pacze Moj March 4, 2008 at 5:53 am

    Don’t have much to say about this film: liked the design, not the direction, the songs were alright. I did like the climax, though; all the narrative strands came together.

    But, in general, very well-done blog, perceptive reviews, and lots of diversity. I initially came here from your Madame Tutli-Putli review on IMDB. Didn’t know what to make of it — I admire the work put into it — but you’re right: my mind did start to wander into the images of other films, especially near the end.


  2. 2 ruiresende March 4, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    thank you for stopping here and commenting. Yes the climax here is well worked out, and the vision of the whole thing is quite acceptable, Burton is great at it. I just thought i would get somthing different, something better. I don’t like when i understand the artists who are above all inventive, start becoming themselves all the time.

    I hope to read you more here. I’ll check your place, you’ll be hearing from me.

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