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The movie starts off in a very “Tim Burton-esque” way, following a trail of blood from the bleeding sky all the way down to the sewer system, going from a barber chair through a trap door into an oven, where it all meets into bloody water in a sewer.
Anthony (Jamie Campbell Bower) arrives on a boat after having rescued Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) from the ocean. They both begin singing “There’s No Place Like London”, with Anthony talking about the wonders of London and Sweeney speaking of the cruelty of men. He tells a story of a foolish barber, his beautiful wife, and their daughter, with cut-scenes showing his story. A judge wanted his wife and daughter all to himself, so he sent the barber away for life on a false charge. He does not know what happened to the woman and child though, and he leaves Anthony, without shaking his hand goodbye, saying that he might find him around Fleet Street. He quickly goes through the dark, desolate streets of London, and he ends up at Mrs. Lovett’s Meat Pies.
As Sweeney enters the door, he meets Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), who is working on her meat pies. She sits him down without letting him talk and give him one of “The Worst Pies In London” as she sings a song of the same name. Her shop is in disgusting condition, complete with dust and bugs, and the pies are filled with some sort of meat-like substance (and bugs) and covered with a dusty crust. She tells him that other shops have even resorted to putting cats into their pies, to which she says “just the thought’s enough to make you sick,” and follows by saying that cats are too quick for her to catch anyway.
Even ale, Mrs. Lovett tells Sweeney, will not get the awful taste out of his mouth, so she takes him into a slightly cheery room (the wallpaper was on sale from a church fire) to give him a swig of gin. She tells him times are hard, and Sweeney asks her why she doesn’t rent out the room above the shop. Mrs. Lovett explains that people think it’s haunted and don’t want to go up there. A barber named Benjamin Barker used to live in the room, but he got taken away on false charges (same story that Sweeney told Anthony), and sings the tale of the wife in “Poor Thing.” The judge would send her flowers daily, but he could not convince her to go to him. Finally, his assistant tells her that the judge has blamed himself for all of her troubles. She follows him to find that the judge is throwing a masquerade ball and tricked her. She can’t find anyone she knows, so she gets drunk, and the judge takes advantage of her while the guests all laugh. Sweeney interrupts her story, screaming in horror. Mrs. Lovett realizes that Sweeney Todd is Benjamin Barker, and tells him that his wife, Lucy, has poisoned herself with arsenic, and that Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) has taken and adopted his daughter Johanna (Jayne Wisener). He is no longer Barker, but is now Todd, coming back to Fleet Street to get revenge on those who wronged him and his family.
Mrs. Lovett takes Sweeney upstairs to show him his old house and his razors, as he goes into a lovely song about his razors, “My Friends.” He completely ignores Mrs. Lovett, who says that she always had loved him even when he was Barker, and tells his razors that they will soon “drip precious rubies” from the necks of those who ruined his life. He tells Mrs. Lovett to leave him alone, and then holds up one razor, proclaiming that “My arm is complete again.”
The final notes of the song pull away from Sweeney and move across town towards Anthony, who is walking down a street. He looks up at a window to see a girl sitting by the window. The girl is Johanna and she is trapped in her room along with her pet bird. She sings “Green Finch and Linnet Bird,” and how she envies the bird how it sings beautifully even though it cannot escape its cage. As she sings, someone removes a painting from outside the hallway, revealing a peephole that is most likely used to spy on her a lot. She continues to sing because she, like the bird, cannot fly away from her life, and until she can she will at least be able to sing. She and Anthony lock eyes and smile at each other, but something pulls her away from the window. He meets a Beggar Woman (Laura Michelle Kelly) singing “Alms! Alms!” on the street and asks her the identity of the girl in the window. She tells him that it is the judge’s ward, Johanna, and that the judge will threat and injure any man “with mischief on his mind.”
Anthony begins singing “Johanna,” saying that he will steal her away from her awful life one day. Suddenly Judge Turpin opens the door and invites him into his home. While Turpin pours him a drink, his assistant Beadle Bamford (Timothy Spall) stands ominously in the doorway. Turpin confronts Anthony about how he gandered at his ward. He then tells him that if he sees him on his street again that he would have him killed. Beadle throws Anthony out of the house, leaving him bleeding on the street. His will is strong, though, as he gets up finishing his song. Even death threats will not stop his love for Johanna, and he still promises that he will rescue her from her prison.
The movie then goes back to Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett, who are walking towards the market to see the man who is proclaimed to be the best barber in London. Quite a crowd is surrounding a small stage. Sweeney looks across the crowd and notices Beadle walking through. Mrs. Lovett has to force him back as he reaches for his razor. Suddenly a boy named Toby (Edward Riggs) comes out from behind a curtain and begins to sing “Pirelli’s Magical Elixir,” selling the product to the crowd, showing off his full head of hair. He throws bottles of the elixir around the crowd, and once one gets to Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett, they complain about the awful stench of piss and ink emanating from the container.
Toby tries to sing over them, but he is unsuccessful, forcing Pirelli (Sacha Baron Cohen) to come out from behind the curtain. Sweeney fesses up that he was the one calling Pirelli a fraud and challenges him to a shaving contest, and the winner will receive five pounds and the notoriety of being the best barber of London. Sweeney calls upon Beadle to be the judge, to which he graciously obliges. Toby sets up Pirelli’s workspace (complete with an Italian flag as the towel) and continues the song “The Contest” in which he talks about how he shaved the pope and care and love that goes into it. Sweeney takes his sweet time preparing his razors and his lather while Pirelli works away. It almost looks like Sweeney will lose, but while Pirelli goes into an extremely long falsetto note, Sweeney finishes in no time and Beadle proclaims him the winner. This upsets Pirelli who begins blaming and punishing Toby, to Mrs. Lovett’s disappointment. People begin coming up to Sweeney asking him if he has his own shop. Mrs. Lovett tells them that his barber shop is over her meat pie shop while Sweeney walks over to Beadle, telling him that he wouldn’t have to pay a penny for “the closest shave he’ll ever know.” Beadle tells him that he will surely see Sweeney before the week is out.
Johanna sits by her window crying when as Judge Turpin spies on her through the peephole. She spots Anthony hiding behind a fence outside her window. She smiles at him and throws him a key so that he will be able to enter the house and they could escape together.
Mrs. Lovett gives Sweeney her late husband’s chair for his shop. While sharpening his razors, he complains how Beadle has not come by yet (even though it is only Tuesday). Mrs. Lovett sings to him to “Wait” and that instead on focusing on the wrongs that happened to him and rushing through his revenge he would have more fun planning it and brightening up his shop. They hear footsteps coming up the stairs and Sweeney hides behind the door, razor open in hand. Anthony rushes in looking for Sweeney. He tells him of a girl named Johanna trapped in Judge Turpin’s house and how she gave him the key. Sweeney realizes that it is his daughter and is unable to speak, staring off into the distance. Anthony knows no one else in London and believes that they would be safe at Sweeney’s shop while they wait for a boat out of town. Mrs. Lovett speaks for Sweeney and tells Anthony to bring her there once they escape; Sweeney is only able to shake his head yes. Anthony rushes out, leaving Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett, who look outside the window to see Pirelli and Toby walking up to the shop.
Sweeney tells Mrs. Lovett to keep Toby downstairs while he speaks with Pirelli. She offers Toby some meat pies; he must be really hungry because he eats her awful pies without a complaint, taking off his sweaty wig (even back then salesmen were misleading). Meanwhile, Pirelli speaks with Sweeney upstairs. After walking in, Pirelli begins talking in an English accent, saying that his real name is Davy. He then tries blackmailing Sweeney into half of his future earnings. If he does not agree he will go to Beadle, saying that he knows he is Benjamin Barker. He worked for Barker for several weeks before he was sent to jail. As a teapot whistles, Sweeney becomes enraged and begins bashing his head in with it, leaving Pirelli’s lifeless body bleeding on the floor. Downstairs they can hear the noises, and Toby realizes that Pirelli has an appointment to go to, so he runs upstairs. When he gets there, the mess is cleaned up and Sweeney tells him that Pirelli ran off without him. Toby decides to wait for him there, sitting on a chest in which Pirelli’s still twitching hand is sticking out. Sweeney eventually convinces Toby to go back downstairs only after promising him gin. After Toby leaves, Sweeney takes out his razor and opens the chest. Pirelli attempts to leave the chest, only to have his throat slit, complete with spurting blood all over Sweeney’s arm.
The movie then shows what a cruel man Judge Turpin really is as he sentences a young boy to death for a crime he may not have committed. As he leaves the courtroom, he tells Beadle that he is planning on marrying Johanna; however, when he told her she was less than happy. Beadle sings “Ladies In Their Sensitivities,” telling Turpin that ladies are weak when seeing untidy men, and suggests to him that he goes to see the best barber in London to help fix him up. Turpin agrees and asks Beadle to take him to see the barber.
After Toby tells his story of being at a horrible workhouse before Pirelli came along and how they would give them gin to help them sleep, Mrs. Lovett gets up to see Sweeney; Toby tells her to leave the bottle (really funny). When she gets upstairs she sees Sweeney’s bloody sleeve and says it is insane to kill a man who did him no harm. When he says that Pirelli was going to blackmail him, her demeanor changes from horror to understanding as she replies “Well that’s a different matter then” in a comical way and grabs Pirelli’s bloody purse off his body (REMEMBER). “Waste not, want not.” She asks Sweeney what they’re going to do with Toby, and he tells her to send him upstairs to kill him. Luckily, she is able to change his mind and will hire him as her helper, mainly due to the fact that he looks outside to see Judge Turpin walking towards his shop. He yells at Mrs. Lovett to leave and then notices his bloody sleeve.
Just as Turpin walks in Sweeney puts on a jacket. Turpin does not recognize Sweeney, and as Sweeney prepares to shave Turpin, they begin singing “Pretty Women.” When Turpin is comfortable, Sweeney sings to his razors approaching the Judge’s throat on how their revenge shouldn’t be taken in haste. Upon the last word Turpin interrupts him, forcing Sweeney to take a small break from revenge. They both get extremely into the song, which gives Sweeney enough time to distract the judge from seeing the razor get unusually close to his neck. As soon as he is about to kill him, Anthony rushes into the shop, saying that he and Johanna will be leaving later that night. Judge Turpin storms out, proclaiming that with the company Sweeney keeps he will never come back again.
Sweeney is infuriated and screams at Anthony to leave. Mrs. Lovett runs in wondering what the shouting was about. Sweeney sings “Epiphany” and how everyone deserves to die for some reason or another, including him and Mrs. Lovett. He puts the razor to her throat, but then remembers Johanna and walks away from Mrs. Lovett and into his own dream world filled with men, telling them to give him a visit at his shop. He proclaims that until he can have his revenge against the judge, he will “practice on less honorable throats,” meaning anyone that comes into his shop for a shave.
Mrs. Lovett awakens him from his daydream and brings him downstairs, where Toby is passed out by the fire. She grabs the gin to give to Sweeney, and realizes that instead of burying Pirelli, she could put his body to a better use. She and Sweeney sing the ever-so-funny “A Little Priest” while examining the people on the street outside. They watch the citizens outside their window, talking about which people will taste like what (“politicians so oily they’re served with a doily,” etc.). The song ends with a beautifully long note zooming out on them, going towards Johanna in her room.
Johanna is packing her suitcase when Turpin and Beadle enter. Turpin tells her that until she can appreciate what he has given her, he is sending her somewhere else to live. As Beadle forces her into a carriage, Anthony runs up to Turpin, yelling at him to tell him where he is taking Johanna. Turpin doesn’t tell him, forcing Anthony to run after the carriage.
As Anthony runs after the carriage, Sweeney is busy in his shop staring at his pictures of his wife and baby. Then he has a revelation and grabs tools to transform his chair into a deathtrap, complete with a foot pedal that when pushed sends his victims headfirst into the basement where they will await their butchering.
Anthony is walking along the streets of London looking for Johanna while he and a murderous Sweeney both sing a reprise of “Johanna.” The song is not funny in itself, but when played along with Sweeney’s uncaring and timely throat-slitting and bodies dropping, you can’t help but laugh (is that bad???) While Anthony is walking through actual butcher shops (total irony) and cemeteries, Sweeney is killing any man that comes into his shop. The only person who seems to notice that people are entering Sweeney’s shop and not leaving is the Beggar Woman, who also is the only one to smell the horrible stench in the air. Sweeney kills everyone in his shop except for a man whose family had come with him to watch him shave (Sweeney has enough heart to not kill an entire family). Once their song is done, Anthony ends up outside of Fogg’s Asylum and sees Johanna behind metal bars. Meanwhile, Sweeney sits on his chair, leaving bloody marks on his picture of his wife and baby.
Mrs. Lovett’s Meat Pie shop is busy and bustling while Toby sings “God, That’s Good!” It’s a bit disgusting to think of the fact that all of the people are eating people. As Toby runs around giving customers ale, Mrs. Lovett is busy singing to customers and telling Toby to kick the Beggar Woman out of her shop, who keeps trying to enter to tell people what they are really eating. At one point, they run out of pies, but a man goes upstairs to get a shave, and Mrs. Lovett calls him “fresh supplies.” Toby is so busy helping customers that he does not realize that the man never comes back downstairs.
After who knows how many days at both of the shops, the three take a day to spend a picnic in a field. While Toby flies a kite and Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett sit, she sings “By The Sea” to Sweeney, proclaiming her love for him. All he cares about is finding a way to the judge, but she is so enamored by him that she doesn’t realize that he couldn’t care less about her at the moment. She goes into a very entertaining fantasy where they spend days at the beach (in extremely funny swimming outfits), have a house by the sea, and even get married. While she is completely happy, Sweeney is even cold and expressionless in her fantasy (pretty funny).
They return to Sweeney’s shop where Mrs. Lovett asks him if he remembers what Lucy looked like. All he told her was that she had yellow hair and he removes himself into a silent depression. She tells him that “Life is for the alive” and to forget his life with Lucy and think about the life he could have with her. His mood perks up, though, when Anthony visits him in his shop. He tells Sweeney that Johanna is locked away in a madhouse that is impossible to enter. Sweeney tells him to pretend to be a wigmaker’s apprentice in order to enter the fortress (wigmakers got their hair from mental institutions). He finally has a way to Judge Turpin. Sweeney tells Mrs. Lovett to get Toby, who is working downstairs. When he gets there, Sweeney gives him a letter to give to the judge lying that Johanna would be at his shop later that night. When Toby asks him if he could stop at the store, Sweeney menacingly tells him no and that he can only go to the judge’s house and straight back. Toby begins to realize that Sweeney may not be as great a man as Mrs. Lovett thinks him to be.
As Sweeney patiently paces upstairs, Toby arrives back home to a tired Mrs. Lovett after missing the dinner rush. He sings “Not While I’m Around,” explaining that he will never let anything bad happen to her and that she should not trust Sweeney. She tries to convince him to stop thinking bad thoughts about Sweeney, but he will not let up. She gives him money so that he can go get some candy to distract him from his thoughts, but she takes it out of Pirelli’s purse. Toby instantly recognizes it and she tries to persuade him that it was simply a gift from Sweeney. Toby grabs her and tries to go to Beadle, but she hugs him and sits on the couch, continuing the song. When finished, she tells him that she will teach him how to make the pies like he’s always wanted to. “No time like the present,” she says. They walk into the basement and a horrible smell hits them. Mrs. Lovett blames it on some sewer rats that die. She shows him the large oven and the meat grinder that disgustingly spurts meat out in a Play-Doh like way. Toby asks if he can have a pie, and she replies that he can have as many as he wants. As she leaves, she locks him in the basement and begins heading upstairs. You can see that she feels awful about what she is going to let happen to the boy that considers her his mother.
After telling Sweeney that she locked Toby in the basement and if he escapes he will go to Beadle, they begin heading downstairs. They open the door to find Beadle standing there who has come because of complaints of the awful smell coming from their chimney. Before he can go downstairs to examine the bake-house, Sweeney convinces him to go upstairs for a quick lesson in cologne. He obliges and they begin walking upstairs to Sweeney’s chair. The Beggar Woman watches them in the distance.
Anthony has infiltrated the asylum and is walking down a hallway with the director of the asylum. He explains that he keeps different hair colors in different cells as they enter the blonde cell. Anthony spots Johanna and pulls a gun on the director, taking Johanna with him while leaving the director to the mercy of his patients, who instantly attack.
Toby grabs a pie and begins eating it. He feels a crunch and pulls out a toe. After seeing this, he looks over at a pile of rotting human ribcages and spines. As he examines the meat grinder and pulls out a hand, Beadle’s corpse comes crashing to the ground with a menacing splat that cracks his head open. Toby runs to the door screaming to find it locked. After killing Beadle, Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett walk into the basement looking for Toby. As she sweetly calls his name, continuing “Not While I’m Around,” Sweeney calls his name, hiding his open razor behind his back. They look but cannot find him anywhere.
Anthony and Johanna run into Sweeney’s shop upstairs looking for him. Johanna is dressed in boy clothes so that no one will be able to recognize her. Anthony tells her to wait there while he gets the carriage, but she proclaims that no matter how far away they go together they will never be able to escape the ghosts of their lives. After he leaves, she begins examining the shop. Suddenly she hears the Beggar Woman coming up the stairs, so she hides in the same chest that Pirelli’s body was in. The Beggar Woman calls out Beadle’s name, but she will not find him. Sweeney appears in the doorway, asking what she is doing there. She warns him of the evils of Mrs. Lovett and then asks him “Don’t I know you, mister?” He can hear Judge Turpin coming up the stairs, so he slashes the woman’s throat, blood flowing down her neck like a waterfall. She was standing directly on the trap door, and he sends her down.
He tells Judge Turpin that Johanna is waiting downstairs and that she has seen the error of her ways. Turpin is overjoyed, but before he can get another word out Sweeney offers him a shave so he will look good for when Johanna arrives. He sits in the chair as they begin singing “Pretty Women” together. As the judge tells Sweeney that he not often meets “a fellow spirit,” to which Sweeney replies “One with fellow taste in women,” revealing himself to be Benjamin Barker before he thrusts the razor repeatedly into Turpin’s neck, blood spurting everywhere on Sweeney and the shop. Turpin lays in the chair bleeding as Sweeney slashes his neck and sends him to the basement. He sings to his razor that they will now “sleep the untroubled sleep of the angels” when Johanna slightly opens the chest. From her view we see Sweeney look over and bring his bloody razor over to the chest. Since she is dressed in boy’s clothing and Sweeney last saw her as a baby, he does not recognize her as his daughter and pulls her over to the chair for “a shave.” Right before he can kill her, they hear Mrs. Lovett scream, and Sweeney tells Johanna to forget everything that she saw and runs downstairs.
Turpin is not quite dead and had grabbed onto Mrs. Lovett’s dress. Once he finally dies, she looks over to the other bodies, sees the woman and whispers “You!” She hears Sweeney’s footsteps approaching and tries to drag the body towards the oven, but he enters before she can get it there. He tells her that he will drag the bodies and yells at her to open the oven. Once the oven’s light shines on the woman, he sees that the Beggar Woman was actually Lucy and realizes that she had recognized him right before he killed her. In anguish, he tells Mrs. Lovett that she lied to him. Technically she never lied; Lucy did drink the arsenic but Mrs. Lovett never said she died. As she explains to him that she loved him more than Lucy ever could, but Sweeney’s anguish turns to anger as he grabs Mrs. Lovett and begins dancing with her. “The history of the world, my pet, is learn forgiveness and try to forget,” he sings to her, also saying that they “life is for the alive” like she told him earlier. Once she believes that Sweeney has forgiven her, he waltzes her straight into the open oven door and locks her in. The vision is more graphic than could be imagined for the stage musical.
As Sweeney goes towards Lucy, he drops the razor to the ground and cradles her body, he sadly sings the story of the barber and his beautiful wife. Toby comes up from the sewer grate and grabs the razor as Sweeney continues serenading his love. He hears Toby behind him and waits for death (which he knows he deserves and is completely remorseful for everything he’s done), raising his head, as Toby slits his throat, blood falling like Lucy’s as a waterfall. As Sweeney dies, he crouches over Lucy, still cradling her, as their blood mixes on the floor in their eternal pose.
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
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Benjamin Parker (Depp) is deported so the Judge can have his wife.
15 years later he returns as Sweeney Todd. He kills those he wanted revenge on and Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) got rid of the bodies by cooking them up in "meat pies".
In the end, he kills the Judge, accidently kills his wife who he thought was dead, almost kills his daughter, then kills Mrs. Lovett for lying about his wife.
Toby, the orphan taken in by Mrs. Lovett, kills Sweeney.
Thanks for this moviepooper K.S.!
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