Obsession in Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd

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Tim Burton’s 2007 film Sweeney Todd is the story of a barber who is imprisoned unjustly and seeks vengeance by killing off his indicters with razors. Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) returns to his old barbershop in London after fifteen years of imprisonment, and with the help of his neighbor, a pie maker by the name of Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), sets up his business again. However, Todd has another goal in mind for his razors: to lure in and kill Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) and his secondary, Beadle Bamford (Timothy Spall), who imprisoned him and took away his wife and child. As the movie plays,Todd becomes progressively more obsessed with redeeming himself and regaining his once comfortable life with his beloved wife, Lucy (Laura Michelle Kelly), and young daughter, Johanna (Jayne Wisener). This obsession with redemption is the central theme of the film. However, the problem it presents to society is whether or not obsession in this manner is healthy. Although Todd’s goal is to kill the Judge, he is more obsessed with redemption than with murder. Murder is simply a means to an end for him. Upon his return to London, he is told by Mrs. Lovett that the Judge raped his wife and adopted his child. Todd believed his family to be waiting for him, but instead he goes into an unexpected state of shock and mourning. He believes that his wife is dead from poisoning herself, and must immediately move on. From a psychological standpoint, Todd is completely justified in his obsession. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, “Important life transitions and mourning may lead to an intensification of ritual behavior that may appear to be an obsession” (“Obsessive Compulsive Disorder”). Psychologically, ob... ... middle of paper ... ...s side that softens the controversies for the audience. Vineburg, Steve. “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” Christian Century. 12 Feb 2008: 51. Print. Steven Vineberg, a professor at the College of the Holy Cross, clearly has his opinions of the film, but mostly in relation to the stage play. He seems quite upset at all of Tim Burton’s musical cuts from the story, which is understandable because the music adds quite a bit to the story in the play. Vineberg maintains that the humor in the play is also a necessary element that the film did not have. This lack of humor and music does add to the darkness of the film, which is one of Burton’s usual themes in his films. Vineberg may be critical of Burton’s interpretation of the stage play to the screen, but this too only emphasizes the true nature of the picture as a twisted, dark horror film.

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