Classic Film Scene: Sweeney Todd

Sweeney Todd

Great films appear every year and with them are potentially classic scenes that may become more famous than the film itself. The shower scene in Psycho, the chariot race in Ben Hur, the chest bursting moment in Alien, and the opera music sounding across the prison yard in The Shawshank Redemption are just some of the examples of the classic celluloid moments that we may be familiar with even if we’ve never seen the film. I’ll be sharing my favourite film scenes, some you will know others may be unfamiliar, but hopefully they’ll be moments you enjoy as much as I do.

Sweeney Todd (2007) – My Friends

Sweeney ToddTim Burton’s 2007 adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s hit musical saw him pair up with Johnny Depp for the sixth time. Collaborations between Burton and Depp have always resulted in great films with Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Ed Wood (1994) being the best in my opinion. At the time of writing, I’ve yet to see Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland, but I’ve had the pleasure of the other six films. Sweeney Todd was another successful collaboration with the likes of Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Alan Rickman all lending their vocals as well as their acting talents to the film. It contains a series of memorable songs but one stands out for me above the rest and with it is the best scene in the film.

Set in Victorian London, a skilled barber, Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) is wrongly convicted of a crime by Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) and sent to Australia for a life of hard labour. In his absence, Turpin is able to pursue Barker’s wife, Lucy (Laura Michelle Kelly), who kills herself after she is raped by the corrupt Judge. Turpin then takes custody of Benjamin and Lucy’s daughter, Joanna (Jayne Wisener). When Benjamin Barker returns to London 15 years later, under the guise of Sweeney Todd, he heads to his barber shop situated above a pie shop owned by Mrs Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter). After learning the fate of his family, Todd vows revenge against Turpin, reopening his barber shop and waiting for an opportunity to kill the Judge.

The best scene in Sweeney Todd comes shortly after Todd has returned to his home and met with Mrs Lovett. He recovers a box containing a group of razors and the introduction to the song “My Friends” immediately follows. Although Mrs Lovett sings along, speaking of her fondness for Todd and how she wishes for him to stay, Todd is completely absorbed in his razors (the ‘friends’ of the song’s title). Though both Bonham Carter and Depp display some impressive vocals during the film, this particular song is all about Depp’s excellent delivery. Todd’s bond with the razors is summed up with the memorable lines, “You’ve been locked out of sight all these years, like me my friend,” but now he’s returned they’re the only mainstays in his life after the devastation to his family, inflicted by Turpin. The song sets the scene perfectly for the beginning of Todd’s revenge, concluding with him asking Mrs Lovett to leave before pointing a razor at the window and ending proceedings with, “At last, my arm is complete again.” The scene ends with the camera panning back from a leering Todd at the window and taking in the panoramic view of the London skyline.

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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