Why I Will Always Love Tim Burton’s ‘Sweeney Todd’…

There is no doubt to my obsession with the film version of ‘Sweeney Todd’. And don’t misjudge my love, I’ve seen a stage version of Stephen Sondhemovies_sweeney_todd_johnny_depp_movie_desktop_4368x2899_hd-wallpaper-86197im’s musical which was gory and haunting in much the same way, but despite the lack of vocal strength in the film, I keep going back to it time after time.

There’s no denying Johnny Depp is part of this charm. He is scary, and he is charming, and he leaves you confused over loving or hating the protagonist. For a man whose “Irish” accent came under heavy fire in ‘Chocolat’, his Cockney ain’t half bad, and his singing voice is perhaps the strongest in the film. And stood beside him is the ever-delightful Helena Bonham Carter, playing obsession and love simultaneously to create a gruesomely tragic lead female, meaning we can forgive her lack of vocal range because she’s just so damn good at hooking us into her character.

And where there’s a protagonist, there’s a suave and manipulative antagonist in he form of Alan Rickman, whose Judge Turpin is just so silky smooth in prsweeneytodd-02esentation you can see how he greased the pole to power to keep himself at the top and others at the bottom. Indeed, two of my favourite lines in the film are due to his talent for making everything sound powerful, threatening and intoxicating: ‘You gandered at her, yes sir you gandered at her’ and ‘You’ll kill me boy?! Well here I stand!’ He’s not far behind Depp in singing skills, and he’s just so brutal in his attempts to find companionship you have to watch him get his comeuppance, even if it’s at the expense of Todd’s own humanity.

Not forgetting the stellar supporting cast. From a brief appearance by the wonderful Anthony Head to more significant roles held by Timothy Spall and Sacha Baron Cohen, everyone pulls their weight: there is no weak link in the chain of this film. Spall’s sliminess (both his and Rickman’s characters have echoes of their Harry Potter roles, doubtlessly) riles you up to want him to go down with Judge Turpin, and likewise Cohen’s final rolling ‘Meester Todd’ practically has the viewer bringing the razor down before Todd can in condemnation.

Then there’s the music. How can you not revel in the grimy joie-de-vivre in every note, the sense that you want to join in but berate yourself slightly for celebrating the terrible nature of mankind or the tastiness of priest? They’re songs that aren’t pleasant, aren’t romantic, but are base and gritty and show the world for what it is (cannibalism aside, think more in metaphors). And there’s a class element to this; let’s not forget that it’s distinctly pleasurable to see ‘those above serving those down below’ for once in Victorian London.

It’s a film I will never tire of, I’m almost certain of it – it’s a rare thing to see every aspect of a project pull together so magnificently so that we’re really living it until the end, and to have triumph mingled with despair at failure, confusing you as to whether you support or condemn characters. I’m not saying it’s the most complex plot in the world, but it knows what it is: dirty, rotten and a bloody ride to revenge, without becoming hideously and psychologically dark so as to send you away with nightmares or the inability to walk past a red and white barbershop sign.

Nothing’s gonna harm you…not likely on Fleet Street.

Review: ‘The King’s Speech’

Colin Firth as George VI

Nominated for fourteen BAFTAs , twelve Academy Awards, and seven Golden Globes, ‘The King’s Speech’ has left audiences speechless. With a simple yet moving plotline, Coling Firth’s King George VI is able to create and maintain a depth of character that will leave you riveted.

The story is simple enough: King George V passes away, leaving his son to become King Edward VIII, only for him to abdicate to marry the twice-divorce Wallis Simpson and leaving an unsettled Albert to ascend to the throne. The issue being, Bertie has never been royally built: his stammer, alongside his other habits beaten out of him at an early age, has cost him both the publics, and his own, confidence. His dutiful wife Elizabeth pushes him to try Lionel Logue, speech therapist, who insists on unorthodoxy to tackle the root of the problem, and helps Bertie lead up to one of the most important moments of his regal life.

The best bit about the plot is how unwavering it is: the writers are dedicated to Bertie’s story, and at times when they could have been distracted (with Wallis Simpson, war…) they only acknowledged their periphery before returning to their tunnel vision, and while enough is incorporated to keep the story afloat, it is all kept in to ensure Bertie’s story is fully and beautifully explored. One of Colin Firth’s most touching moments as the wonderful Bertie is telling his daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, the story of the royal penguin, acting as a silent advocate for love conquering all and covering over the fault lines to smooth the way for their own private lives. Bertie’s wife, Elizabeth, is wonderfully portrayed by the beautiful Helena Bonham Carter, whose strength and solidarity with her husband show a united front, helping to collect fragments of the future king’s life in order to provide unity and faith in his abilities. This was also seen in the selfish and impulsive Prince Edward (Guy Pearce), whose taunting of ‘B-B-B-Bertie’ leaves both Firth’s character and the audience speechless: cruelty comes in many forms, but it strikes hardest when loved ones knock us down. It’s horrific to witness the lack of familial support when Elizabeth has been attempting to prop up Bertie’s courage, although Edward’s act of dishonour frames Bertie’s relationship with Logue perfectly. While Geoffrey Rush’s Lionel Logue has been silently breaking down barriers, this incident pushes their friendship together to unify their desires, leading to Logue’s place of honour at the coronation (again, something that could have become it’s own issue with the Bishop’s anger, but dealt with smoothly to continue the story).

Logue and Bertie’s friendship was dealt with brilliantly: it appeared as if from nowhere, despite knowing it would inevitably happen. Logue doesn’t push or force Bertie into action, he sits and accepts his decisions but instantly springs into action when his call comes. Driving through wartime Britain for Bertie was a brilliant finale to this ever-building relationship, turning the emotional into a physical act to show the lengths he would go through for his friend. His gentle approach isn’t too invasive on the screen, which means the story glides along instead of forcibly feeding us the key information. It also means Logue’s step into unfamiliar territory with regards to Edward is a point of confusion for audience emotions: who do we feel sorry for, the friend spurned for giving advice, or the prince resisting power through fear? Their reunion strengthens the resolve, and heightens Bertie’s bravery and Logue’s nobility: they both needed each other to realise when they were wrong and how to be right.

It’s a stunning film, showing that power isn’t all popular opinion would make it out to be: the King needs support to function and lead with dignity, determination, and above all, belief in the power of your own voice. King George VI deserved to be heard, and it’s a voice everyone should listen to.