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The 2007 Tim Burton film Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a musical that tells the legend of Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp). Todd is a barber who returns to Victorian London after being wrongfully exiled, by Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman). Turpin falls in love with Todd’s wife and after what appears as her suicide and takes in her daughter, Johanna (Jayne Wisener). Todd and his landlady/ lover Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) decide into madness as they begin to serve the public meat pies made with human flesh, that Todd kills and she cooks. Also, a sailor named Anthony (Jamie Campbell Bower) runs away with Johanna after many attempts to get her away from her guardian. The movie ends with Todd extracting his revenge on Turpin, finding out that his wife survived his suicide attempt, killing Ms. Lovett, and being killed by the young boy that Todd and Lovett took in.
The first act of the movie ends with the song ¨A Little Priest¨ This is when Mrs. Lovett slyly suggests that they use the meat of Todds murder victim in her meat pies. This scene contains a lot of cutting between Todd, Lovett, and the people on the street. This creates the idea of constant movement and lets the viewer know that something big in the plot it happening. This constant cutting also creates a rushing sensation. This coupled the music’s adagio, makes the scene feel as if it happening quickly. The audience feels rushed and uncomfortable.
Similarly, the close-up shots of Lovett and Todd, though primarily Todd, are quite close to his face. This also works to create a discomfort between the audience and the scene. The camera is close to the face. These shots, couples with the actor’s performances, highlights the decent into insanity that Todd and Lovett are enduring.
This song also uses a lot of circular panning shots. This is coupled by the spinning in Todd and Lovett’s dancing. These shots are also close-ups or midbodies; this only allows the viewer to see Todd and Lovett passing in front of the camera. As a result it creates a dizzying sensation, that showcases the couple descending into madness and insanity. This is the first time we see the pair beginning to concoct a plan, and the constant movement further informs the audience that what they are going to do is quite evil and sinister.
The song that showcases Todd’s state of mind the reprise of “Johanna.” This song is sung by Sweeney Todd and Anthony. Both characters are discussing the character Johanna. Tony is expressing his love and desire to be with her, while Todd is dealing with the idea that he will never meet his daughter and get to be a dad to her. The initial shot pans from above down. It shows Antony walking down a desolate and dark London street; this sets the tone of the song. The dark lighting and high contrast, techniques from the German Expressionist movement, ensure that the audience is aware of just how dark things are for the main characters and who haunting everything is. It also act a t-up for what follows next, which is Todd brutally murdering a slew of people. While making that seem more in place with the song, it also brings high contrast to the blood in those shots. The red stands out brightly against the darkness, drawing the audience’s attention.
This song also uses an rhythmic montage to show the progression of events and different characters. It follows, Todd killing people, Lovett making them into pies, a beggar woman figuring out what is happening, and Antony finding where Johanna is. This serves as major points for the plot along with character development. The montage focuses on Todd become more methodical with his killing and what that says about the psyche. Another goal of the montage is to draw parallels between the characters and make the audience understand that they both want the same but go about getting it different ways.
The song is also accompanied by a series of close-up shots of Todd slicing people’s necks wide open. These show the audience just how horrific his actions are. The close -ups are also accompanied by the blood hitting the camera. This furthers the viewers disgust of the sight before them. It also breaks the fourth wall and makes the viewer feel as if they are acomplance to his actions, further making them sympathize with Todd.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street uses panning shots, close-ups, and montage to help portray the emotion of the songs and show the viewer different emotions and states of being. The panning shots create a dizzying sensation, to show the character’s insanity to the viewer. The close-ups draw the audience’s eye to specific things, such as blood or faces. They also try to make the audience uncomfortable. Finally montage is used to show the progression of time and characters. The cinematic techniques work with the music to convey different ideas.
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