SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET (Tim Burton, 2007)
MoMA Film, Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Wednesday, January 27, 8:00
Tickets: $10, in person only, may be applied to museum admission within thirty days, same-day screenings free with museum admission, available at Film and Media Desk
Oh yes, there will be blood. Tim Burton’s adaptation of the hit Broadway musical SWEENEY TODD is bloody good fun. After being sent to prison for fifteen years by Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman), who had designs on his wife (Laura Michelle Kelly), innocent barber Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) returns to nineteenth-century London, reborn as Sweeney Todd, now a dark, ominous figure dead set on gaining his dastardly revenge. He gets back his coveted silver razors, which he considers an extension of his arm, and sets up shop in his old place, above the store where Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) sells meat pies crawling with cockroaches. When Todd begins slicing throats with expert precision, Lovett has a novel way of doing away with the bodies — while increasing business. Burton and screenwriter John Logan (THE AVIATOR, THE LAST SAMURAI) have done a terrific job translating the show onto the big screen, as Depp, Bonham Carter, and the rest of the cast — including Sacha Baron Cohen as a magical elixir salesman, Timothy Spall as the judge’s wingman, and Jayne Wisener as Todd’s daughter, who is doomed to marry the judge — do a wonderful job with such Stephen Sondheim songs as “No Place Like London,” “Poor Thing,” “My Friends,” “Pretty Women,” and “Not While I’m Around.” Depp is marvelous as the demon barber of Fleet Street, wearing a fright wig with a shocking streak of white, singing most of his dialogue with a gentle devilishness, enhanced by his haunting, penetrating eyes. The goth opera not only sounds good but looks even better, courtesy of cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, production designer Dante Ferretti, and costume designer Colleen Atwood. Burton and Depp, who have previously collaborated on EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, ED WOOD, SLEEPY HOLLOW, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, and CORPSE BRIDE, have another winner on their hands.
The film is screening at MoMA in conjunction with the wonderful, expansive Tim Burton retrospective, which runs through April 26; also on the schedule are CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (January 27 & February 1), BATMAN RETURNS (January 28), BEETLEJUICE (January 31), BATMAN (February 3), VINCENT and ED WOOD (February 4), EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (February 5), FRANKENWEENIE and THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (February 7), and PLANET OF THE APES (February 7). In addition, “Tim Burton and the Lurid Beauty of Monsters” features works that influenced Burton; coming up are Harold Young’s THE MUMMY’S TOMB (January 28 & February 6), Lew Landers’s THE RAVEN (January 29), Roger Corman’s PIT AND THE PENDULUM (January 29), Jack Arnold’s THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (January 30), Arnold’s REVENGE OF THE CREATURE (January 30 & February 5), Val Guest’s WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH (January 30 & February 1), Robert Wiene’s THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (February 4), and Christy Cabanne’s THEMUMMY’S HAND (February 6).