You write the Reviews

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (18)


From the moment the opening credits start literally oozing on to our screens with gruesome effect, we know that we're in for a typically macabre cinematic experience from the director Tim Burton.

Once a happily married barber, Benjamin Barker (as he is first known), is transported to Australia by a covetous judge (Alan Rickman), who lusts after his wife. Finally returning to London 15 years later, Barker has morphed into the murderous and manic Sweeney Todd, a pallid- faced killer with revenge firmly on his mind. Reunited with his beloved barber's blades ("My friends), he sets out to give the judge "the closest shave I ever gave", along with anyone else who gets in the way, not to mention those who don't. Sweeney is coldly indiscriminate as to whom his victims are, believing that "they all deserve to die." Those who fall foul of his "barbering skills" are to him, no more than pie fodder for landlady and partner in crime, Mrs Lovett. And so, the scene is set as the sound of the gurgled last breaths of customers with freshly slit throats, fills the air in Todd's barber shop.

Set to the songs of Stephen Sondheim, Burton's adaptation of the much-loved musical is as much a visual affair as it is musical. The general feel of Burton's Sweeney Todd is characteristically dark, both in mood and appearance. Much like the blood that spurts from Todd's victims, the colour seems literally to have been drained from Burton's vision of London, leaving us with a murky, pessimistic view of Todd's world.

The only real flashes of colour come from the gushing torrents of blood sprayed across our screens, perhaps the only truth in Todd's demented reality. The singing itself is not as polished as something you'd expect to see on stage. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter's vocals are relaxed and almost "rock'*'roll". But it's this very fact that actually enhances the experience as a musical movie, rather than a stage musical transferred to the big screen.

The gritty honesty of Depp's voice acts as an extension of his character and, as such, is less of an abrupt distraction from the action, than the flashiness of technical ability might be. What Burton achieves here is a seamless marriage of song and story, one complementing the other rather than competing for attention.

As you'd expect, both Depp and Bonham Carter are nothing short of genius, playing up to Burton's quirky, theatrical landscape as only they know how. And with Rickman's suitably creepy Judge Turpin, Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, is truly a triumph.

By Yasmin Huda, freelance writer

E-mail your 500-word review of an arts event of your choice to For terms and conditions, see www.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living