"Victorian England is the setting for this harrowing melodrama. Backstory: Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) was living a simple, happy life as a barber with his wife Lucy (Laura Michelle Kelly) and their baby daughter when the lust of Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) ruined their lives. The judge had Barker deported to Australia on a trumped-up charge, then raped Lucy, who poisoned herself in despair. Their daughter Johanna (Jayne Wisener) became the ward of Judge Turpin.
Many years later Barker, now calling himself Sweeney Todd, returns illegally to England with the help of a young sailor named Anthony (Jamie Campbell Bower). He visits the pie shop of Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), an old friend who recognizes him and tells him what happened to Lucy and Johanna. Then she takes him up to the room he used to rent above her shop, where she has hidden his razors under a floorboard. He's profoundly happy to have them back and decides to reopen his barbershop.
On a stroll through the market, Mr. Todd and Mrs. Lovett stop to watch Signor Pirelli (Sacha Baron Cohen), a mountebank barber and hair tonic salesman. Mr. Todd challenges Signor Pirelli to a shaving competition, to be judged by Beadle Bamford (Timothy Spall). (The beadle is Judge Turpin's sidekick.) Mr. Todd wins handily and encourages the beadle to patronize his "tonsorial parlor."
However Signor Pirelli, who once worked for Benjamin Barker, recognizes the man and his razors. He has blackmail in mind: in exchange for half of Mr. Todd's earnings, Signor Pirelli will refrain from exposing Todd's identity to the authorities. Mr. Todd, enraged, kills Pirelli. Mr. Todd and Mrs. Lovett decide to use the body to make meat pies. Mrs. Lovett appropriates Pirelli's purse and hires Pirelli's servant, the boy Toby (Ed Sanders), to help her in the pie shop.
In another part of London, Anthony the sailor has caught sight of a lovely young woman, identified to him as Johanna by a local beggar woman, sitting at her window in Judge Turpin's house. He's smitten. Unfortunately, Judge Turpin has caught sight of Anthony too; the judge threatens him and has Beadle Bamford beat him up. Not content with warning Anthony off, Judge Turpin decides to marry Johanna to "protect her" -- but, he confides to the beadle, she's unaccountably reluctant. (In fact, she's given Anthony a key to the house and is planning to run away with him.) Beadle Bamford, suggesting that the judge will win his ward's heart if he just spruces himself up a bit, recommends a visit to Sweeney Todd. The judge goes for a shave, but just as Mr. Todd is about to kill him, Anthony bursts into the barbershop asking for help in eloping with Johanna. Judge Turpin leaves in a rage and packs Johanna off to an insane asylum to keep Anthony from finding her.
Furious that Judge Turpin has slipped through his fingers, Todd embarks on a spree of butchery, bloodily killing almost every customer who comes to his shop. Downstairs, business is booming: the bodies all go into Mrs. Lovett's meat pies, which are greatly improved by the change of recipe. Meanwhile, Anthony scours the city in search of Johanna. After he finds her at Fogg's Asylum, Mr. Todd advises Anthony to present himself at Fogg's as a wig maker's apprentice in search of hair the color of Johanna's. The ruse works; Mr. Fogg (Philip Philmar) leads Anthony straight to Johanna and Anthony takes her off to the barbershop, leaving Fogg to be torn apart by the remaining inmates.
Mr. Todd, on the sly, has written to Judge Turpin. Pretending to be eager to regain the judge's good opinion, he tells Turpin that Anthony is eloping with Johanna and will leave her at the barbershop that night while he arranges their escape from London. Toby by this time has begun to suspect that Mr. Todd is dangerous. Mrs. Lovett locks him in the cellar with the oven, the meat grinder, and a few batches of pies. Toby finds a toe in one of the pies and realizes that the unprocessed meat is human remains. Upstairs in the pie shop, Beadle Bamford has very inconveniently arrived to inspect the premises because the neighbors are complaining of the smell. To keep him away from the corpses and the now more than suspicious Toby in the cellar, Mr. Todd persuades the beadle to have a shave first, and of course kills him. The arrival of Beadle Bamford's body in the cellar (via a chute and trap door in the barbershop floor) impels Toby to flee through a drain into the sewers.
While Mrs. Lovett and Mr. Todd search for Toby in the sewers, Johanna arrives at the barbershop to wait while Anthony hires a carriage. Anthony has disguised her as a boy. Looking around the room, Johanna notices but does not recognize photographs of her infant self and her mother, Lucy. She hides in a trunk when she hears someone coming; it's the addled beggar woman who has inhabited the edges of the story since Sweeney Todd came back to London. Todd himself comes in and tells the woman to leave, disregarding her "Don't I know you?" When he hears Judge Turpin coming -- expecting to catch Johanna -- Todd kills the beggar and in short order cuts Turpin's throat as well, sending both bodies down the chute. Todd then discovers Johanna, does not recognize her, and very nearly kills her too. He's interrupted by a scream from the cellar. While Todd goes down to investigate, Johanna apparently escapes; we hear no more of her. In the cellar, Mr. Todd finds that Mrs. Lovett has finished off Judge Turpin, who -- not being quite dead -- startled her by grabbing her dress.
Todd for the first time gets a clear view of the face of the beggar woman; he's horrified to realize he has killed his own wife, Lucy. He charges Mrs. Lovett with lying; she argues that she never said Lucy died, only that she took poison -- and furthermore that she (Mrs. Lovett) only deceived Mr. Todd out of love for him. Mr. Todd waltzes Mrs. Lovett savagely around the cellar and flings her into the oven, where she burns to death. As Todd weeps over Lucy, Toby creeps out of the sewer and cuts the barber's throat with his own razor."
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