Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a 2007 horror/black comedy musical film directed by Tim Burton. It is adapted from the 1979 musical of the same name by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler, which is itself inspired by the legend of Sweeney Todd, a London barber who murdered his clients with his razor while his accomplice, Mrs. Lovett, disposed of the bodies by using them to garnish his meat pies. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter embody this evil duo on-screen and interpret the songs of the film themselves, just like the other actors. The movie won several awards including the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Oscar for Best Production Design and Depp was honored for his role with the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and was nominated for the Oscar for best actor.
The ending of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street might be a bit confusing for people, which is why we decided to explain what actually happened in the end of the movie. We are going to analyze the narrative elements of the story, as well as the meaning of the final scene, and how it all connects to the narrative behind Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
What happens in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street?
Barber Benjamin Barker is unjustly arrested, convicted, and forced into a life of hard work in Australia by Judge Turpin, who longs for Barker’s beautiful and virtuous wife, Lucy. Returning after 15 years, after fleeing the penal colony, Barker adopts the name of Sweeney Todd and says goodbye to his friend, the young sailor Anthony Hope, who saved him when he was adrift.
He then returns to his old apartment on Fleet Street above Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop. Following the discovery of the true identity of the man, the woman tells him that after his arrest, Turpin raped his wife and that the woman decided to poison herself due to the humiliation she suffered, and that in this way Turpin kidnapped his daughter Johanna and became her guardian.
Upon hearing this news, Todd matures his desire for revenge and as the plan begins he decides to reopen his old upstairs barbershop. Meanwhile, Anthony wanders through the streets of London, and sees Johanna in her window: he immediately falls in love with her. This attraction causes a confrontation between Turpin and Messenger Bamford, who beats Anthony and threatens him with more violence if he returns.
Meanwhile, in the market square, Todd denounces an advertising fraud by the Italian “street barber” Adolfo Pirelli and his young assistant Tobias “Toby” Ragg, claiming that the elixir they sell is just “a concoction of piss and ink.” Todd challenges Pirelli, who feels mortally offended by the insult he has received, to verify his finesse in shaving in the shortest time. He is then called Bamford as a witness to the challenge and victory between the two rivals.
Bamford congratulates Todd on his victory and the latter takes the opportunity to invite Bamford to his shop for a free shave. When Mrs. Lovett and Todd return to Fleet Street they see Pirelli arriving, who after revealing to Todd that he is not Italian but English and that he is his old assistant, Davey Collins, tries to blackmail Todd by asking for half of his earnings. Otherwise, Pirelli would have leaked his true identity.
Todd thinks back on those words, and impetuously hits the Pirelli repeatedly in the face and back of the head with a hot teapot, and after he passes out, he then locks him in a trunk. Seeing that Pirelli is still alive, Sweeney finishes him by brutally cutting his throat. Mrs. Lovett takes Toby, unaware of his master’s murder, into her care and hires him as a boy in her shop.
Todd reluctantly agrees. Judge Turpin expresses a desire to marry Johanna but is disappointed in her refusal. Bamford encourages Turpin to visit Mr. Todd for a shave that would improve his appearance. Todd realizes that this is the perfect opportunity to kill Turpin and take revenge. During the judge’s shave, Anthony bursts into the shop accidentally revealing Johanna’s plan to run away with him to Turpin.
Enraged, Turpin leaves saying that he won’t set foot in Todd’s shop again as long as he hangs out with people like Hope. Back home he locks Johanna in an asylum until she agrees to marry him. Furious at not being able to finish his revenge, Todd unloads his frustration on his innocent clients who, at Mrs. Lovett’s suggestion, can turn into delicious pies in his oven.
Todd enthusiastically accepts his suggestion by installing a machine in his chair so as to dump the victims’ bodies through a trap door to Mrs. Lovett’s oven room. Both Todd’s barbershop and Mrs. Lovett’s confectionery shop receive a lot of money, and on this occasion, she expresses a desire to marry Todd, exactly a moment before Anthony arrives and he claims to have found Johanna.
Hearing this, Todd advises him to dress up as a hairdresser’s apprentice and take Johanna out of the asylum. Todd then writes a letter informing Turpin of Anthony’s plan to take Johanna away so as to lure the judge and sends Toby to deliver her into the judge’s hands. Tobias returns and expresses his distrust of Todd to Mrs. Lovett, who, frightened by the idea of the boy running to tell the police about his suspicions, consoles him and lures him into the oven room, locking him inside.
As Lovett warns Todd about Toby’s suspicions, they are surprised by Bamford, sent to investigate the “strange smells” emanating from the shop’s chimney. As Todd lures Bamford into his shop, Toby (in the bakery) finds a human toe in a mess. He thus discovers a pile of human corpses just as the usher’s body falls off the chute. Toby escapes through the sewers, hiding from Todd and Mrs. Lovett.
How does Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street end?
Meanwhile, Anthony and Johanna return to Todd’s shop where the boy tells her to wait for him. Wearing masculine clothes, Johanna takes a look at the shop where she finds an image of her not realizing that it depicts her in her mother’s lap. The moment a beggar woman enters the room looking for Bamford Johanna quickly hides in a chest in the corner of the room.
Soon after, Todd reenters the shop and is surprised to see that the beggar seems to know him. Hearing that Turpin is about to enter, the panicked barber cuts the beggar’s throat and drops her body down the chute. Turpin bursts into the shop seconds later and accepts the offer to have his beard shaved.
Moving the razors above him Turpin Todd reveals his identity to the judge and proceeds to brutally murder him, stabbing him in the neck repeatedly before slitting his throat in a single motion. Todd finds Johanna hiding in the trunk and, not recognizing her, prepares to kill her. He mistook her for a man and offered her a shave but was interrupted by Mrs. Lovett’s screams.
He leaves her daughter with the warning and heads to the oven room. Mrs. Lovett had screamed because the judge, with the last strength left, had grabbed her skirt but, once dead, recognizing the beggar’s body as Lucy Barker’s, Mrs. Lovett tries to get rid of her corpse. But opening the oven door the light illuminates the woman’s face and Todd recognizes her as his wife, whom he believed dead.
Lovett then reveals that Lucy survived her suicide attempt but that her poison drove her mad. Mrs. Lovett tries to convince Todd that she lied about her love for him, saying that she was “just thinking about him”. Todd calms her down and, incredibly, but with a look full of blind fury, begins to dance with her telling her that he loves her, that “life is for the living” and that “you just have to live it”. Suddenly he throws her through the open oven door.
Mrs. Lovett screams as Todd closes the door and is dazzled watching it burn through the grate. The barber then returns to Lucy, and takes her in her arms with a broken heart for having lost her again, and for the knowledge that he is responsible for her death. While Sweeney sings with his wife in his arms, Toby, from behind, emerges from the sewers and picks up one of Todd’s razors from the ground, thus cutting his throat and walking away from the macabre scene.
Did the Sweeny Todd murders really happen?
This is a question that a lot of scholars have talked about so we’re not sure how we can really add to years of historical research. From what we know, Sweeny Todd is a fictional character that debuted in 1846, with the original stories being the foundation for the original musical and this movie. Some have claimed that Sweeny Todd was based on an actual person, but this has been refuted by historians, although there are some theories that state that there are some prototypes that inspired Todd.