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Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street is the only film that has been produced numerous times in various versions. And among all versions there are two that had actually make an impact in the audience; the original produced in 1936 and the last one in 2007. Furthermore, between both versions of the movie, the most highly praised version of all so far has been the musical film version; which was directed in 2007 by Tim Burton with Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd. Although the original film version wasn’t applauded as much as its successor, it didn’t exactly surpass the expectations of the viewers; the original version was directed in 1936 by George King with Tod Slaughter as the main character. And even though the version of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street made in 2007 is similar in acting and sound; it differs in three important aspects such as plot, theme and setting; which add a bit of realism and a much greater amount of suspense to the musical version.
Firstly, the acting of the character of Sweeney Todd is similar in both movies, he started in London with the name of Benjamin Barker, an owner of a barbershop located in the infamous Fleet Street and who also with the help of Mrs. Lovett they commit grotesque atrocities, for instance; Todd executed people by slitting his customers’ throat with his straight razor, and he disposed of them by his invention of a revolving trapdoor; which sent the corpses directly to the basement, where Mrs. Lovett cooked them and used them as fillings for her pies. In addition, in the acting the protagonists in both movies caused or provoked the audience to feel somewhat identified with their reasons for committing those crimes; they played their role astonishingly because they impersonated their character realistically. The protagonists’ body and facial expressions in both movies demonstrate joy and darkness in their actions, and their coldness and instantaneous mood change during and after the massacres, definitely added to the suspense that made the audience feel somehow caught up in the film, impatient to see what event Todd’s actions had triggered.
Additionally, the sound contains important details that show that these two movies are somewhat similar. The sound during both movies played the part of providing the audience with the feeling of disgust from hearing the blood dripping or the limbs being cut apart. The sound creates the ambience and it plays the part of preparing the audience for a strong scene; which, at the same time, keeps them in the mood for more grotesque and blood soaked parts. The sound basically adds to the movies tension and anticipation, and makes them scarier.
In contrast to the similarities, the 1936 and 2007 versions have tremendous differences, not exactly because they’re the same movie in a different time period but because, both films differ in plot, theme and setting, which as mentioned before, these aspects add realism to the version made in 2007, and help the movie solidify, once more, its greatness to a new generation.
The plot in the 2007 version made the story of the film more interesting because, the protagonist is influenced by a sense of revenge towards the characters that collaborated in separating him from his family. Todd’s actions make the events in the film to connect perfectly; making it not too complicated to follow. Meanwhile, in the 1936 version, Todd is influenced by greed, which makes the story of the film not interesting, because he only kills for money. Also, the plot becomes complicated to understand and at times, some events don’t make sense together; for instance, when Todd decided to kill Johanna’s boyfriend because he came back rich from his voyage. To add to the contrast, the theme in the 2007 version, revolves around revenge and envy, which are emotions that captivate the people’s attention, besides that, in the 2007 version, Sweeney Todd, is married and has a lovely child, named Johanna. The beauty of Todd’s wife attracted the attention of the corrupt judge Turpin. This judge falsely accuses Todd of a crime he did not commit, gaining custody of Todd’s wife, Lucy, and Johanna. When Todd returns fifteen years later, he seeks revenge against Turpin and everyone who collaborated with him. On the other hand, the theme in the 1936 version revolves around greed. Where Todd invites wealthy customers to his barbershop and murders them to take their money and help a fleet owner to force his daughter to marry him, which after all, doesn’t relate to the audience very well.
Setting as well, was as an aspect that made the 2007 version better than the 1936 version, the setting in the most current version, was in a barbershop located in a dark alley and the main characters only dressed in rags, which gives the movie a more gloomy scenario and darker sense of hatred and revenge, creating the right atmosphere for the story. In contrast to the 1936 setting, which was in a barbershop located near a port, where many wealthy people were accustomed to spend their free time and all the characters would wear fine garments. The 1936’s setting lacked to create the appropriate atmosphere and made the audience lose interest in the film.
After all, the character of Sweeney Todd acted magnificently in both movies, and the sound helped to create a horrific suspense. Nevertheless, the 2007 version, undoubtedly, surpassed its predecessor by plot, theme, and setting. These three aspects helped to create a more realistic and gloomy movie and engaged the audience in a world of revenge, envy, hatred and love.
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