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Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street Film Critique Free essay! Download now

Home > A Level > Media studies > Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street Film Critique

Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street Film Critique

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Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street Film Critique

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Set in 70’s London, Sweeney Todd follows the life of the wrongly imprisoned Benjamin Barker, who develops from an accomplished barber and family man to the vindictive slaughterer and becoming ‘Sweeney Todd’. In a flash back we learn he was married to Lucy Barker with a toddler Joanna and how he was ‘transported for life’, he is accused of a false charge or ‘foolishness’ as Mrs. Lovett explains in her song ‘poor thing’ and is sentenced to hard labour in Australia by the egotistic Judge Turpin, who had his eye on Barkers striking wife. After 15 years of ‘rotting in a living hell’ Benjamin returns home. We first see him on a ship with the young Anthony Hope, whilst Anthony sings about the wonders of the world and then compares it to the ‘wonderful’ London, Todd contrasts by singing about the wonders of the world and comparing them to the ‘cruelty of man’ then referring to London as ‘a great black pit’ and that the ‘vermin of the world inhabit it’. At this time we don’t know of Todd’s motives so we’re instantly introduced to a sinister Sweeney. Following a short dialog between the two men, Todd sings about his past, unravelling the story, and giving the viewers an attachment to Sweeney making us feel some sympathy towards him.
Following Todd, we experience camera angles that take us through the streets of London, giving the effect that we are actually in dark dusty London. Concluding the journey we join Todd again outside ‘Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop’. Upon entering the shop, he sees Mrs. Lovett preparing pies and goes to leave, she looks up and spots him, she then starts to sing about her ‘worst pies in London’ inviting Todd to sit down and giving him a pie. Through the song we see Mrs. Lovett progressing in making the pies as she does the activities to the beat of the music; the fast paced song is like a one way conversation as she sings ‘go on take a bite’. We see Sweeney’s replies through his actions as he spits out the pie and Mrs. Lovett sings ‘is that just disgusting?’ He takes a sip of liquor to get the taste out of his mouth, but is still sickened by it, he tries to speak many times through the song and upon closing the song where she states ‘times is hard’ expressing her hard labour and the poor living conditions, she offers Todd a drink of hard liquor and takes him into the next room. Todd inquires about the room over the shop which we learn is his room in the next song ‘poor thing’. We also learn in conjunction with Todd that his pretty little wife was raped by the ruthless Judge Turpin and then poisoned herself, and the judge took Joanna as his ward, Todd questions ‘would no one have mercy’ destroying even more of his belief in the human race. Mrs Lovett recognises him as Benjamin Barker when he states that that man lives no longer and declares himself as ‘Sweeney Todd’ and he ‘will have his revenge’. This is when the character truly becomes Sweeney Todd and we see the instant change.
In the song ‘my friends’ were he sings to his razors we see his commitment to his revenge. This song is a duet between Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney Todd singing parallel to each other, as Todd sings to his razors Mrs. Lovett sings to Todd ‘you are warm in my hands’ Todd goes on to sing ‘my friends’ and Mrs. Lovett goes on to confess ‘always had a fondness of you I did’. Within the song Mrs. Lovett invites Todd to move in ‘never you fear Mr. Todd, you can move in here Mr. Todd’. You can hear the change Todd has undergone in this song as it’s slow and you can sense the love Sweeney has for the razors. Todd tells Mrs. Lovett to leave him, he then stands up and extends the arm holding the razor towards the window and declares ‘at last my arm is complete again’. It then zooms out from the window and transfers our vision from Todd to the rooftops of old London.
We’re then introduced to a youthful blond girl who sings about capitation in ‘green finch and linnet bird’. This catches the attention of the young Anthony who is sitting on a bench outside. Its love at first sight and he glances at the attractive girl. During the song we see someone remove a picture on the wall and peer on the girl spying on her, where she concludes her song ‘if I cannot fly, let me sing’. Anthony immediately wants to know about the girl and asks a beggar woman looking for change. She tells him that it’s Judge Turpins house, and the girl was Joanna. We know Joanna is Todd’s child but as of this moment Sweeney doesn’t know any information about her.
In order to get the Judge to come to his barber shop, he goes to the market and challenges ‘the king of all barbers, the barber of all kings’ Italian Signor Adolfo Pirelli, He asks Beadle Bamford, who serves as the villainous Judge Turpin's chief henchman and played a part in his exile, he sees this as an opportunity to draw the judge in and on closing the contest the winner was Todd where he passes a modest glance to Mrs. Lovett. Todd explains his shop is in Fleet Street, and to his joy the Beadle promises to drop by before the week is out. However, before the judge arrives Sweeney is visited by Pirelli, Todd asks Mrs. Lovett to keep the boy down stairs, referring to Pirellis young orphan Tobias, used to draw in customers to his miracle elixir. Upstairs Pirelli admits of his English tongue and how he knows Todd’s true identity as Benjamin Barker, blackmailing him, to take half his profit or to tell the Beadle who he is. During this the kettle is boiling symbolizing Sweeney’s temperature rising, this is breaking point and we see he has took the path Mrs. Lovett had suggested to him previously and kills Pirelli with the boiling kettle, continuing to gash his throat. Out the window he sees the judge approach the shop; he quickly tries to hide the blood before he arrives. As the judge is questioning about his barber shop, he starts singing ‘pretty women’. The song is about the wonders of women and for Todd a direct song to his wife who the judge had an interest in. ...

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