on vinyl, for the first time, the soundtrack to the 2007 Tim Burton–directed, Oscar-winning film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s 1979 Tony Award–winning musical, Sweeney Todd, starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, and Sacha Baron Cohen, all of whom sing their own parts.
Based on the macabre Victorian legend of London’s ‘Demon Barber of Fleet Street’, Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd has stood for over 40 years as one of the composer’s most celebrated musical theatre creations, as well as his most operatic score. In 2007, with Depp in the title role, Burton unveiled the first major realisation of a Sondheim work for the screen — and it is a darkly masterful cinematic tour de force.
The songs and score boldly propel the action in Burton’s sixth collaboration with Depp, making his singing debut as the falsely imprisoned barber transformed into a murderer by his thirst for revenge. Bonham Carter serves as his pie-baking accomplice, Mrs. Lovett, who finds a wickedly savoury means to dispose of Todd’s victims, and British star Rickman is the scheming Judge Turpin. As with every actor in the film, including Baron Cohen as rival barber Pirelli, they perform all their own vocals to impressive effect, complemented by Jonathan Tunick’s rich orchestrations.
The film’s art direction is in keeping with Burton’s typically ambitious vision – an arresting chiaroscuro vision of 19th century London cast in shades of grey and sepia and tinted colour, punctuated with splashes of blood red, with a scenic atmosphere that is almost palpable. Depp told audiences at the 2007 Venice Film Festival, after they’d finished cheering a ten-minute preview of Sweeney Todd, “Tim is a rare breed in today’s cinema: he is a true original, a true artist, a true auteur.”
Winner of nine Tonys in its original 1979 production, Sweeney Todd is an enduring classic that continues to entrance contemporary audiences.