Johnny Depp’s casting in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” was initially met with “he can sing” inquests from a variety of sources.
As evidenced by his Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for the part, he must have hit it out of the park.
Burton does Broadway
As the movie arrived on DVD, having had already seen the Broadway production it raised a question: How could this film stack up against the Broadway show itself? The answer is simply, oh, my yes.
The two-disc edition is the one to purchase and a can’t miss for any Johnny Depp or Tim Burton fanatic. “Sweeney Todd” also stars Helena Bonham Carter (also nominated), Alan Rickman (the bad guy from “Die Hard” and “Robin Hood”) and Borat himself, Sacha Baron Cohen in a role that will impress even his staunchest critics.
“Sweeney Todd” stacks up against the Broadway production in ways that the musical on stage simply cannot compete. There is no way any musical production on the Great White Way could have the scope and imagination of Tim Burton. The director is beyond his years in vision and storytelling abilities.
Add the songbook of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler, and the ability to have “Sweeney Todd” to bleed over as many times as a viewer may want is invaluable.
What is so special about the two-disc DVD release is the depth with which it delves into the mad world of Depp’s titular character.
Bloody good extras
Such a brilliant stage production debuted with Angela Lansbury starring and to compete with the leading lady of the British stage is silly. After decades, “Sweeney Todd” found its way to the big screen with a cast that can match that of the Tony Award-winning original. The extras on “Sweeney Todd” DVD provide a stellar background to further enhancing the film by showcasing its Broadway past.
Another extra enhancing the entire “Sweeney” experience is two shorts on creating the London of the era, including the surprisingly delightful “Making of” featurette.
Plus, with the immense work it takes to stage a Broadway musical, it is fascinating to watch Depp, Carter, Cohen and their director, Burton rehearsing. The first disc includes, of course, the film, but then without removing the disc, allows the viewer to witness the ravages of rehearsal that produce a priceless film.
“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” is much more than a Burton-Depp film. The team that brought audiences “Edward Scissorhands,” “Ed Wood” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” has found themselves weaving a much more plush than their normally rich colorful tapestry.
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