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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street [Blu-ray]
Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Actors: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Sacha Baron Cohen
Director: Tim Burton
Genres: Drama, Horror, Musicals & Performing Arts, Mystery & Suspense
R     2008     1hr 56min

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Movie Details

Actors: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Sacha Baron Cohen
Director: Tim Burton
Creators: Brenda Berrisford, Derek Frey, John Logan, Katterli Frauenfelder, Christopher Bond, Hugh Wheeler
Genres: Drama, Horror, Musicals & Performing Arts, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Drama, Horror, Musicals, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Dreamworks Video
Format: Blu-ray - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 10/21/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2007
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 56min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 21
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, French, Spanish, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
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Movie Reviews

The Many Facets of Stephen Sondheim's SWEENEY TODD
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 04/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"When it comes to a work of the musical stage it is difficult to imagine a finer one than Stephen Sondheim's SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET. For those who saw the original 1979 Hal Prince extravagant production starring Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou/George Hearn, and then the 2005 revival as condensed so creatively by John Doyle and re-orchestrated by Sarah Travis who placed the orchestral instruments in the hands of the 10 actors who tell the story of the strange Todd, the Tim Burton (screenplay reduction by Josh Logan) film will only enhance the pleasures of seeing SWEENEY TODD resurrected in yet another form. Each of these incarnations has its riches and together they establish Sondheim's work as a masterpiece.

Johnny Depp makes a convincing Sweeney Todd, in looks and demeanor as well as in singing voice, and Helena Bonham Carter's Mrs. Lovett fits right into Tim Burton's vision of the dark, squalid and seedy London. Timothy Spall is perfect as the oily Beadle, Alan Rickman makes Judge Turpin an understandable villain, Jamie Campbell Bower and Jayne Wisener are suitably infatuated young lovers, and Sacha Baron Cohen and Ed Sanders give top flight cameos as Signor Pirelli and Toby. The one advantage of seeing this fine film on DVD is the option of turning on the subtitles so as not to miss a word of Sondheim's superb lyrics.

For this viewer, however, the most successful version of this 'opera' is the John Doyle production currently on the boards in Los Angeles with Judy Kaye as the most satisfying Mrs. Lovett on record. This uniquely economical and endlessly creative production goes to the core of the work better than any other version, and if this traveling company comes anywhere near your home, go see it! It is the essential SWEENEY TODD and a fine adjunct to seeing the film version again and again. Grady Harp, April 08"
Sondheim's Masterpiece Finally on Film
James Morris | Jackson Heights, NY United States | 12/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Although critics have been almost unanimous in their praise of this film, many fans of the show are quite harsh in their appraisal, chiefly for two reasons - one, that the principals are not great singers, and two, the deletion of roughly 50% of the score. I surprised myself in that, having purchased the soundtrack and seen the movie, I am in neither camp, as either of these factors might heretofore have caused me to pronounce most film adaptations of almost any Broadway musical a failure. Instead, I am thrilled far beyond my expectations with this production.

It might not have been so, had I not had so much respect for Stephen Sondheim. As part of the pre-release publicity, he has granted an unusual (for him) number of interviews, and says that he is unequivocally satisfied with Tim Burton's vision. As anyone who appreciates his high level of artistic integrity will agree, Mr. Sondheim would not give praise to this project if he were not satisfied with it. At 77, Stephen Sondheim is considered by many to be the greatest composer in the history of the American theatre, and I have followed him long enough to know that no amount of financial consideration could cause him to declare his endorsement if he were not truly happy with the finished film.

I have listened carefully to what Mr. Sondheim has had to say in those recent interviews, and now understand why so many stage musicals previously transferred to celluloid haven't worked. To begin with, time passes very differently in a theatre than it does on film. That which takes several minutes in a Broadway theatre (i.e. a full-blown production number) is apt to seem like a small eternity on screen. Therefore, the very thing that keeps most audiences clamoring for more in live theatre is apt to make many movie audiences run screaming from the auditorium. Then there is the problem of what Alfred Hitchcock once termed "suspension of disbelief"; that is, in real life, no one ever bursts into song during one of life's dramatic moments, no less accompanied by a full orchestra, and many moviegoers who are accustomed to a certain amount of reality therefore find musical films particularly hard to take. Thanks to some of the theories on musical film voiced by Mr. Sondheim in the past week or so, I finally understand why so many previous attempts to film Broadway musicals fall flat - in short, the theatre and film are two entirely different mediums, with two entirely different audiences. Although many theatre lovers, myself included, would be happy to sit through an entire musical transferred to screen exactly as produced on stage, most movie audiences demand something different. And something different is what they surely get with Sweeney Todd.

Then there is the score. Tim Burton has said that he has been a fan of Sweeney Todd since its original run. I believe that, as disappointing as it is for many fans to accept how much of the score has been cut, it was probably even more agonizing for Mr. Burton to decide what pieces to remove. The original ran over three hours, and at least 75% of the story was sung, making Sweeney Todd one of the few genuine operas to ever come out of Broadway. The film runs only 117 minutes and, judging by the length of the soundtrack CD (a mere 72 minutes) easily 40% of the score has been removed, chiefly the ensemble pieces. Mr. Burton apparently judged (probably correctly) that the choral numbers which worked so well on stage, although containing some of the wittiest lyrics, would be clunky and ponderous on film, and he made the prudent (if, I'm sure, difficult) decision to let them go. This is likely to be the sorest point for many fans of the show. And had I not been paying careful attention to Mr. Sondheim's recent interviews, I may not have been able to get past that point myself.

But what has been excised is more than compensated for in Mr. Burton's sumptuous visuals and careful attention to detail. Although Mr. Sondheim has made changes to the lyrics, resolving previously problematic portions of the score and actually improving it, it's amazing how much of what is left of the score is faithful to the original. Though it's a tragic story, Sweeney Todd remains in essence a dark comedy, and many of Mr. Burton's finer touches, especially the staging of the musical numbers, have enhanced the story to the point where I have hardly missed the deletions, and I speak as someone who has loved this piece in almost all of its previous renderings.

And I admit that, although he has never been a particular favorite of mine, Johnny Depp is a revelation. Without detracting from previous interpreters of the role (especially Len Cariou and George Hearn), Mr. Depp's evocation of the character is so fully fleshed out, and so filled with genuine pathos and sympathy, that I was able to immediately excuse the fact that he is not a seasoned vocalist. Besides, to reiterate a point made earlier, this is not Broadway, and there is no need for his voice to reach the back of the house. If anything, the fact that the principal characters are not great singers actually enhances the realistic feel of the film. It is also a pleasure to have both Toby and Anthony (not to mention Joanna) played by actors of the appropriate age, and hear accents that actually invoke pre-Victorian London.

In the end however, the real star (to me, anyway) is the superlative score by Stephen Sondheim. I am not amazed that some feel that there are no "memorable songs" in the score. Good music should be subtle; the absence of "catchy tunes" that one will whistle on the way out of the theatre is only indicative to me of the high quality of the score. Anyone who is previously unfamiliar with Sweeney Todd who doesn't "get it" is urged to purchase the soundtrack (the full version, with the complete libretto included) and follow along with the words and music as the songs are sung. The first thing you will realize is (as with any of Mr. Sondheim's works, whether they be in a film, the theatre, or any other medium) how incredibly witty and sophisticated his lyrics are; on first listen you are apt to miss most of his delicious wit. His use of the English language, his clever rhymes, and above all, his intelligent, deft semantics will amaze anyone who cares to take the time to listen. There are reasons why so many consider Sondheim the foremost composer of the theatre, and so many intelligent theatergoers hang on his every word. But just as important as his words (and I have always admired Sondheim's ability to use words above all else that I treasure in the world of musical theatre), you will find, especially if you listen long and hard enough, that his delicate, subtle music will, in time, work its way into your heart and conscience as some of the most beautiful music ever composed. This is NOT top-forty pop music, the type that is so often mistaken for excellence in theatre these days. In his ballads especially, Sondheim writes genuine, heartfelt gorgeous melodies; that is, real music. Once you open your heart and mind to Sondheim's glorious words and sumptuous airs, you may just become a fan for life.
Special Collector's Edition Loaded with Extras!
Cubist | United States | 03/31/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"An R rated musical about a vengeful barber who kills his victims only to serve them up as meat pies must've made the studio a little nervous to bankroll a big budget adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's award-winning Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Although, they must've been reassured that Tim Burton would be helming the project with his long-time collaborator Johnny Depp stepping in to play Todd. Burton, with his affinity for all things dark and gothic (see The Nightmare Before Christmas (Special Edition) and Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (Widescreen Edition)), seems like an obvious choice to take on such dark subject matter and Sondheim agreed, giving the filmmaker his blessing.

The first disc has a featurette entitled, "Burton + Depp + Carter = Todd." Tim Burton had always been a fan of Stephen Sondheim's musical and had contemplated a film version for years. Helena Bonham Carter was also a fan and had always wanted to play Mrs. Lovett. Burton liked the idea of her and Depp as this "weird" couple. The director and his leading man talk about their long-standing relationship in this excellent featurette.

The second disc starts off with the "Sweeney Todd Press Conference, November 2007" which features Burton, producer Richard Zanuck and his main cast answering questions from the press. Not surprisingly, Burton and Depp tend to dominate the bulk of the questions. Both men are very charming and joke good naturedly with each other.

"Musical Mayhem: Sondheim's Sweeney Todd" features Sondheim talking about the origins of his take on Sweeney Todd and what drew him to the story. He also talks about how he adapted it into a musical and speaks eloquently about the story and the predominant theme of revenge.

"Sweeney's London" provides historical background to 18th and 19th century London including the social and economical conditions with historians talking about how harsh life was back then. This is fascinating stuff and excellent insight the world that acts as a backdrop to the story.

"The Making of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" takes a look at how the film came together. This is a pretty standard promotional featurette that mixes cast and crew soundbites with clips from the film. It covers a lot of ground already depicted in other featurettes.

"Grand Guignol: A Theatrical Tradition" examines the tradition of Grand Guignol or horror theatre that came out of France. Academic types trace its origins, define its characteristics, and illustrate how Sweeney Todd fits into this tradition.

"Designs for a Demon Barber" takes a look at the costumes and set design. Burton wanted the film to look like Frankenstein (75th Anniversary Edition) (Universal Legacy Series) and resemble a kind of fable look. He explains that this is why he used sets on soundstages as opposed to actual locations.

"A Bloody Business" examines how they did the film's bloody deaths. We see Burton and his crew running tests on how to get the right bloody sprays and experiment with how to pull of the throat slashings.

"Moviefone Unscripted with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp" features the two men asking each other questions submitted by fans. They talk about how they met, how Depp prepared for the role, and so on.

"The Razor's Refrain" is a montage of stills and behind-the-scenes photographs from the film with excerpts of songs from the soundtrack.

Also included is a gallery of production sketches, promotional stills, and behind-the-scenes photos.

Finally, there is a theatrical trailer."
Sweeny Todd - Movie, Musical, Masterpiece - You Will Be Surp
Mark | East Coast | 12/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barbour of Fleet Street" will surprise a LOT of movie-goers. It's a musical about a London barbour who is wronged and returns home looking for revenge.

I'm usually skeptical of film remakes of musicals. Being a fan of Tim Burton was enough to get me through the door. I am really glad I saw it. This is a very good movie that will satisfy a very wide audience, including those unfamiliar with the original musical as well as it's loyal fans.

DISCLAIMER: Not for younger kids or squeemish adults. This is one R rating that is well deserved.

First and foremost, this movie is worth seeing in the theatres. I expected this version to be even less "musical" than it was. Surprisingly, it is VERY true to the original musical, with almost all the original Steven Sondheim score re-sung by the modern cast. Musically, the songs and score are all well done and add to the theatre experience.

Visually, Sweeney Todd is STUNNING. This version is MUCH BETTER than any other previous version. Tim Burton has created a dark and dingy London that deserves to be nominated for an Oscar for almost every technical category. The black and white backdrop make the bright colors stand out when they are used. Color is used artistically and powerfully, as you'll see. :)

The actors will also attract some die hard fan groups. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter have some very different fan bases, but I think both will be satisfied and surprised by the performances. In fact the whole cast does wonderfully, and the director no doubt had something to do with that.

This is also another movie where I will be looking forward to the HD DVD. Hoping for a wealth of deleted / extended scenes and "making of" featurettes. As for the soundtrack, I plan on buying it today.

Go see this movie. You will buy the DVD. And the soundtrack may be on your shopping list soon too. There's a full version, and a "Highlights" version without the background tracks.
Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street Deluxe - Complete Edition
Sweeney Todd Soundtrack Highlights