Sweeney Todd on film

Just caught up with Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, and am delighted to say this is probably the best possible filmic adaptation of Sondheim’s masterpiece, in spite of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Depp is okay – it’s certainly the best I’ve seen of him in a very long time, but he’s probably not quite aggressive enough for me as Todd. Brutal when aroused, but not aggressive enough in his ‘normal’ demeanor. Similarly, Bonham Carter is probably a bit young and doesn’t quite have the comic timing of Angela Lansbury (the original Mrs Lovett), but she is passable and her voice is probaby better than I’d expected. She just needed to crack a smile on occasion and be a bit more cheeky. Along with everyone else, I’m blown away with Sacha Baron Cohen – the man is superb as Pirelli/Barker’s apprentice. As the young Antony and Johanna, the two young stars are lovely, and Rickman and Spall are suitably despicable in their parts as Judge Turpin and Beadle Bamford. But it’s the overall pace, photography and macabre which is magnificent – all thanks to Burton’s peculiar sensitivity for gothic horror.

I may say here that I think Sondheim is probably the greatest musical genius of our time. And Sweeney Todd is one of his triumphs. This film is a remarkably good adaptation. Burton, this is your best work since The Corpse Bride and A Nightmare Before Christmas. Well done.

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