Friday, October 22, 2010

I'm Fine

The bloodiest scene of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is also the most truthful.

Our very first glimpse of Sweeney informed us that he was a man who had been irascibly wounded by the world.  Through the quick flashes of times gone by, we learn Sweeney was once another man, Benjamin Barker.  Mr. Barker was a lovely being; a happy soul with wife and daughter.  Unjust judgment comes.  He is sent away.  Many years have aged the once lovely Benjamin.

Somewhere along the years, lost in memory and hope, Barker chooses to change his name to Todd.

Upon returning to his native soil, Sweeney meets the strangely sick Mrs. Lovett.  More pain comes.  He is told a horrible tale.  The Unjust Judge had, upon Barker's absence, ravaged his wife and taken the unknown daughter as his own.

 Sweeney's future is made crystal clear; he is to seek revenge on his false accuser.  He will take the life of the Unjust Judge.

Did he think about it then?  Did he realize his fate?  A man cannot be fueled by revenge alone.  That is not a sufficient motive for living.  There has to be something else, something more.  What will happen to Todd after he kills the Judge?  What happens next?

Benjamin Barker only truly becomes Sweeney Todd seventy minutes into the film.  Listen to his words.

And in the darkness when I'm blind
with what I can't forget
It's always morning in my mind
my little lamb, my pet.
You stay Joanna, 
the way Ive dreamed you up.

A choice is made.  Sweeney chooses to die... he chooses to succumb to the true meaning of Todd.  To be Sweeney Todd is to die to Benjamin Barker.  And what is Sweeney Todd?  He is nothing.  He is a creation of the mind.  To choose Sweeney is to choose death.
"We have to go back!"

Benjamin wanted what many men want.  He wants to go back.

Of course, the harsh reality is that he can't go back to the way things were.  The choice is then to accept this and move on, or grasp only at memory and dream.

Talk to one who is truly heartbroken.  The great hope, and sadly the very thing that keeps the heart from healing, is to find a way back.  UNDO IT.

For Todd, he comes to realize he can't undo it, and yet, he refuses to move on.

He is Sweeney Todd now.  A Harbinger of Wrath.  

And when that wrath is quenched, so is he.

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