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Seeking revenge with a razor

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By Quninn McCulloch

On a dark and foggy night, Benjamin Barker returns from a long prison sentence for a crime of which he was falsely accused. Upon his arrival in London he finds that everything that he once loved has vanished: his wife has been poisoned, his daughter imprisoned by the judge who, ironically, sabotaged his family and his career as a barber. With nothing left to live for, and no one else to love, Benjamin Barker is laid to rest and new man is born as “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” Sparing no lives, Todd swears vengeance upon London, describing it as a “hole in the world, like a great black pit, and the vermin of the world inhabit it...”Stephen Sondheim’s stage musical is interpreted perhaps better than ever in this on-screen adaptation. The film as a whole is beautifully directed, from the bloody imagery that will be forever imprinted on your memory, to the creative choreography that permeates each scene. There is a wonderful use of colors: London is portrayed as an incredibly drab and dirty world worthy of nothing but condemnation and is starkly contrasted with the outpouring of crimson blood from Sweeney Todd’s victims in his barber shop.Especially effective in this story is Sondheim’s use of dissonance and strange harmonies to portray a dismal world where a man has lost all hope. Haunting songs like “Pretty Women” and “Not While I’m Around” stayed with me long after the movie was over, and reminded me of all of the intense imagery I had just seen. Although Johnny Depp (as Sweeney) and Helena Bonam Carter (Mrs. Lovett) are clearly not singers by training, they pull off the dark and dissonant show tunes and add to the overall cynical mood of the film.This movie is wonderfully crafted, but definitely not for the light of heart. It is also, of course, a musical which in and of itself can turn some people off from going to see it. However, even if you are apprehensive about actors breaking out into song during a movie, I would recommend that you give this one a chance.Especially for anyone who loved “A Nightmare Before Christmas” or “Corpse Bride,” or any of Tim Burton’s other dark films, this movie is definitely worth two hours of your time. I assure you, they are two hours that you will never forget. “Sweeney Todd” will screen at the Reel Deal Theater starting Friday.