SCENE STEALER: 'Sweeney Todd'
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'Sweeney Todd'( Leah Gallo / DreamWorks / Warner )
By Ron Magid, Special to the Times
Look sharp. These are no ordinary razors but exquisite instruments for slitting the throats of Londoners, whose perceived crimes against one Benjamin Barker drove the barber to wield his blades with deadly purpose under his nom de mort, Sweeney Todd.
The demon barber of Fleet Street's tools of the trade: a seven-blade matched set (one for each day of the week) housed in a simple leather box. The ensemble, featured so prominently in "Sweeney Todd," opening Dec. 21, is the work of prop master David Balfour, who previously built "The Da Vinci Code's" elaborate Codex and whose "lifelong dream" was to collaborate with Tim Burton.
Burton's take on Stephen Sondheim's Grand Guignol musical -- wherein Sweeney's late customers plunge through a trapdoor beneath his barber chair into the supply room of Mrs. Lovett's pie shop, their remains repackaged as tasty meat tarts -- sent Balfour seeking some unusual inspiration: a painting by the great poet and artist William Blake, "A Vision of the Last Judgment." "Blake is a complex, troubled character," Balfour says. "I thought [his work] would be quite apt for the feel of these razors."
Here's how Balfour and company helped Sweeney swing his razor high.