Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street

DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Martin Gray

Read Jennie Kermode's film review of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street

Pick of the bunch is the no-modesty-included Burton + Depp + Carter = Todd, in which director and stars tell us how they got involved with the film and how they followed through. All three seem pretty lovely, especially the destined for Damehood Bonham Carter. Cyncical old me thought she'd got the plum part of mad Mrs Lovett due to being the director's wife. Turns out she's been a fan of the musical since she was a teenager and on learning the project was a go, and fearing she hadn't the musical chops for the piemaker, had months of singing lessons. Only then would Burton so much as audition her. And given her brilliance in the role, thank heavens her did. As for Burton and Depp, watch the feature.

Sweeney Todd is Alive: The Real History of the Demon Barber is a round-up of expert opinion on whether Todd existed, along with a look at his portrayals in fiction. It's interesting stuff.

Copy picture

The Living Genius that is Stephen Sondheim tells us about how he came to write lyrics and music for his undoubted masterpiece, Sweeney Todd, in Musical Mayhem: Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. What a nice guy, how come he's not my friend?

I loved Sweeney's London, a simple but very effective history lesson about the urban nightmare of London in Sweeney's time (sometimes the 18th century, sometimes the 19th). Lots of nice old illoes and clever talking heads.

Designs for a Demon Barber does what it says on the screen - tells us about the sets and costumes. It's fun, but a bit patronising in giving English subtitles to Italian contributors who speak English perfectly well.

Stephen Sondheim mentions Grand Guignol in Musical Mayhem - find out everything you wanted to know about the French theatrical genre that inspired so many early horror films, and a certain musical, in Grand Guignol: A Theatircal Tradition.

Prosthetics designer Neil Scanlan explains the menchanics of bloodlettings and corpse creation in A Bloody Business and great fun it is too.

Less absorbing are Razor's Refrain, a bunch of images from the film set to pieces of the score and the inevitable Photo Gallery, which features production imags as well as moments from the film.

The big lack here is a commentary track, particularly since this is branded a "special edition" and it is listed as being included on Amazon and the like - are we expected to wait for a Director's Cut to hear Burton's thoughts, scene by scene? It's not like there isn't room here - this is a two-disc set. Otherwise, there are no deleted scenes, but perhaps there were none of particular interest. And as for a bloopers reel, such things are seldom funny, so no loss there.

Well worth buying if you're a fan of Sondheim, Burton or Depp.

Reviewed on: 21 May 2008
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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street packshot
Musical mayhem, murder most foul, and meat pies with a difference in a gothic tale of doomed love and deadly obsession.
Amazon link

Product Code: DY21175

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.78:1

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Burton + Depp + Carter = Todd, Sweeney Todd is Alive: The Real History, Musical Mayhem: Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, Sweeney's London, Designs For A Demon Barber, Grand Guignol: A Theatircal Tradition, A Bloody Business, Razor's Refrain

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