Sleepy Hollow Movie Review

 by Bernhard Marshall - August 5, 2003

sleepy hollow posterAfter bringing us great fantasy and dark movies like "Edward Scissorhands", the "Batman" Series and before he made his version of the classic "Planet Of The Apes", director Tim Burton and a staff of some of the best producers (Francis Ford Coppola included), screenwriters (like Andrew Kevin Walker who wrote "Seven"), art directors and actors, re-created one of America's most famous legends: "The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow".

The Tale

Created by Washington Irving in the 19th century, this legend of Sleepy Hollow tells of a German mercenary who was killed at the time of the Revolutionary War, was beheaded and buried in the small town. Then after some years, murders start to happen in which the victim's have their heads cut.

In the original Sleepy Hollow story, it starts in 1799 in the Hudson River County and the main character Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is a school teacher, but in the movie he's an inspector from a nearby city who's sent by the local judge (Christopher Lee) to investigate the murders that are happening in Sleepy Hollow.

When Crane arrives in the Sleepy Hollow town he's received by the Van Tassell family members Baltus Van Tassell (Michael Gambon), his wife Lady Van Tassell (Miranda Richardson) and Baltus' daughter Katrina (Christina Ricci), who are the richest people of the town and who have family connections with the dead mercenary.

Crane is a modernist detective who's specialized in forensic pathology, and he's like an alien in his small immediate world because he acts very differently from the other investigators around him, who still use medieval-like tactics of investigation.

But although in the beginning he looks professional and confident of his capabilities, as the story develops he starts to show his vulnerabilities and also that under his poise hides more a frightened young man moved by curiosity than an experienced policeman. 

In a moment he's making an autopsy on one of the victims and acting very convincing, at the other he's so frightened from his first meeting with the Horseman that runs straight back to his room.

christina ricci in sleepy hollowHowever, don't think that he won't manage to find the solution of this case, because in spite of his fragility, Crane's very diligent and as soon as he starts to meet the main people of the town, he realizes that the murders have a supernatural fundament.

He finds out that there's a witch in Sleepy Hollow, who's the keeper of the Horseman's head and who's responsible for turning the Horseman's corpse into a slave that kills all her enemies under her orders. Nevertheless Crane still has to find out her reasons for doing so.

Katrina Van Tassel is one of the possible next victims and she's a dreamy girl who fell in love with Crane the moment she saw him. From then on, she helps him with his investigations.

At some moment in the movie, when the identity of the Horseman is revealed, actor Christopher Walken appears as the mercenary and makes a memorable interpretation, with his cynic ways and his pointy teeth.

johnny depp in sleepy hollowThe humor tirades that appear throughout the Sleepy Hollow movie may seem misguiding to some, but it softens the weight of the story and gives an unusual depth to it. In my opinion if it weren't for these tirades the movie would be just another "blade-and-blood" film like "Friday 13".

Don't forget to pay attention to the costume and scenery details, because they are very good. Also the visual effects are amazing, and couldn't be less, as it was George Lucas' "Industrial Light & Magic" that worked on them.

That's it for this month. Don't forget to check our next issue for another movie review!

Download Washington Irving's "The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow" now! (Zip file size: 28 KB) 

If you want more information:

Sleepy Hollow Official Site

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Copyright 2003 Bernhard Marshall

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