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Any reservations that I had about the film being be a turkey, were almost
immediately quelled upon seeing the movie. From the offset Mr. Depp throws
himself into the role of Icabod Crane with enthusiasm and gusto; portraying
excellently a man of "science" suddenly out of his depth in legend.
Christina Ricci also plays the role of Katrina van Tassel superbly; a sure
sign of good things to come from this talented young actress.
I would be reluctant to call this film an outright horror film - the special effects are used primarily to enhance the plot and visual appearence, and the gore level is low. The visual detail is a masterpiece - the sets are fantastic and lighting brilliant. Tim Burton has superbly used music and suspense to build the thrill in the film. However, the comical interjections provide the required break-up of the suspense.
All in all a very well put together film, with solidly good acting, and most of all a superb plot. Well worth seeing!
The movie, Sleepy Hollow, embodies Tim Burton's unique take on one of
the most well-known horror tales of all time, with a few new plot
twists and greater character development, including a dark past for
Ichabod Crane and a "story behind the story" of what's going on in the
haunted town, which is beautifully rendered, dark and foggy for an
The dream cast puts in great performances, but obviously it's Johnny Depp who steals the show with his intuitive and sometimes over-the-top portrayal of the anti-hero, Ichabod Crane, who displays admirable bravery while at the same time often succumbing to fear.
The lavish production, masterful acting, background music, beautiful periodic sets and costumes and the careful attention to detail, most notable in the special effects used to bring the headless horseman "to life", if you will, all come together to tell the tale of Sleepy Hollow's plight and deliverance as it's never been told before. It's unlikely that this cinematic version will ever be surpassed. Superb!
Tim Burton has done it again. It seems he can't really go wrong; especially when he's paired with Johnny Depp. Sleepy Hollow is the most visually stunning movie I have seen this year. The production is gorgeous in every way; the cinematography is hauntingly beautiful, the set design is incredible and the way Burton uses the color red to accentuate the lack of color and dreariness otherwise experienced in Sleepy Hollow is a visual treat. This movie is just absolutely beautiful to watch. The performances are flawless, I have to commend Burton for using such a great array of underappreciated character actors, such as Jeffrey Jones and Michael Gough.. and even poor little Casper Van Dien; the man just can't seem to get any respect (and he doesn't here either). Ricci is wonderful in a role totally against type, and Depp is refreshing as ever. Christopher Walken is just the coolest guy ever, and as the Headless Horseman he's even scarier than normal. The best thing, though, is Danny Elfman's music. Why on earth doesn't the man have an Oscar yet? What is going on?? He should at least get a nomination for this one.
SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999) ***1/2
Starring: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Jeffrey Jones, and Christopher Walken Director: Tim Burton Running Time: 102 minutes Rated R (for graphic horror violence and gore, and brief sexuality)
By Blake French:
Tim Burton is just about as good as they get in the movie business when it comes to creating an atmospheric world to inhabit specific characters. "Sleepy Hollow" is the perfect kind of movie for his directional Midas touch; it resembles the best of Burton in every way. In the film, an adaptation based on a story by Washington Irving called The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, he captures the slumbering, creepy village of Sleepy Hollow with vivid details and imaginative description. The way everything is presented, the trees look like something out of a fairy tale and the scenery represents deception in a mysterious wonderland, is what makes this production one of the years most captivating and magical film experiences.
Some of the visual credit should also be given to the film's Cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, and the credited production designer, Rick Heinrichs. These elements contribute a great deal of success to Burton's masterpiece. Both the design and Cinematography are some of the best seen all year, and deserve a hard earned Oscar Nomination. They make the film intriguing and visually stimulating.
The film takes place in the late 1700's, in New York. Constable Ichabod Crane, a timid and but smart man played by Johnny Depp, is assigned to investigate a series of grizzly murders in a nearby town called Sleepy Hollow. He's rather concerned about his latest task, however, due to the content of the killings. The victim's heads have been sliced, in one clean sweep, straight from their bodies. He accepts his duties, and travels by horse and carriage to the isolated village.
Once Ichabod arrives, the locals, including Lady Van Tassel (Miranda Richardson), Baltus Van Tassel (Michael Gambon), Brom Van Brunt (Casper Van Dien), and Reverend Steenwyck (Jeffrey Jones), greet him with eagerness. They explain the legend of the headless horseman, who is supposedly causing the murders in their town. At first he is skeptical. Then, after witnessing a victim losing their head personally, he arrives at the conclusion that a headless horseman is responsible for the tragic catastrophes accruing. Ichabod soon meets Katrina Van Tassel, an innocent looking, self spoken young woman who may have some advice, as well as several secrets of her own.
The Headless horseman is a perfect portrayed villain for "Sleepy Hollow." He is brute, oversized, and roughly textured with outwear. The actor who brings him to life when his head is on is perfect for the role; Christopher Walken. For some odd reason, however, popular film critic Roger Ebert reluctantly refused to tell his readers the name of the actor, thinking it would give something away. Well, I am sorry, Mr. Ebert, but it isn't that hard to find this information elsewhere. The filmmakers are not trying to hold Walken as a secret. Stating he stars as the headed horseman gives nothing away. One must see his performance and make up for themselves to even imagine what material the film's bad guy brings forth.
Tim Burton's direction is focused and wonderfully observant here. The murder sequences are gory and violent, but never way over the top. Burton never losses sight of his main characters, has a good idea about what he wants to place in film, and the special effects do not distract his ability to do so. He has a knack for allowing an audience to become involved with his pictures. We must think for ourselves, figuring out nuggets of the plot on our own, without the projectors help. He has demonstrated these techniques before in such films as "Edward Scissorhands," "The Nightmare Before Christmas," and even the best Batman film yet, "Batman Returns."
Johnny Depp offers an Oscar worthy performance as Ichabod Crane. He brings the squeamish role to life effortlessly with striking details and perfect form. He is flawlessly cast, as well as Christina Ricci, who also acts with style and poignancy. Compliments also go out to splendid costuming the actors are permitted to wear.
Although "Sleepy Hollow" offers lots of creepy impressions, the film is far from being very scary. Some moments do generate some minor thrills, but for the most part, the production is not as terrifying as it could have been. Much of it lacks momentum and build-up for the dozen or so graphic beheadings that take place. Burton could have easily loaded his picture with bombarding amounts of shock value, suspense, and tension filled fright, but instead goes for all out violence, plot, and mystery. Not that this effects the overall production. This is more of an atmospheric movie than a scream feast. The atmosphere is certainly above the average.
The conclusion of "Sleepy Hollow" works in a bizarre, but unpredictable fashion. The climax occurs unexpectedly and excitingly, with much surprise and special effects. The film's foreshadowing is effective, but regardless of how experienced of a filmgoer you are, this is one ending that is not meant to be figured out before it takes place. It is one of the preferred closings I've seen in a while. Despite a few personal objections, "Sleepy Hollow" is a brilliantly crafted work of art--one of the years better films.
Brought to you by Paramount Pictures.
Tim Burton has again proved his worth with a masterpiece of gothic horror.
The whole way the film is made is excellent, from the way the special
effects are used to enhance the story, rather than sell the movie, to the
superb acting of the entire cast. I must confess I was a little reluctant at
first to see Johnny Depp in the lead role, but from the outset my mind was
changed as he threw himself enthusiastically into the part with exactly the
right mix of assumed self confidence tempered by a realistic portrayal of a
man hopelessly out of his depth in the situation in which he finds himself.
The story, the sets, the special effects and most of all the cast and director make this a film well worth seeing, definately the best thing out of Hollywood in a very long time. Other directors take note..it's not how big the budget, it's what you do with it. A turkey stuffed with gold is still a turkey, but this film is pure gold, without a hint of poultry.
Why are you still here? Go and see this film immediately.
I thoroughly enjoyed this collaboration between Tim Burton, Andrew Kevin
Walker and Washington Irving. Combining such incredible talents as Mr.
Burton and Mr. Walker proved quite the appropriate recipe for recreating
Irving classic. I have read may other comments about this movie and I find
it very disturbing that most people either compare it to Star Wars: Phantom
Menace or complain that it is too far removed from the original
For these people I have a few comments. First, the only connections and comparisons to Star Wars are the actor Ian McDiarmid and the actor/stuntman Ray Park. Beyond that there is nothing within this movie that comes remotely close to a comparison to Star Wars. In my opinion this movie was better than that box office behemoth. If *****had spent as much time on his script for ***, perhaps it would have been as intriguing as Sleepy Hollow. Next, for those who were not satisfied with the movie's departure from the Irving classic I have but one piece of advice: read the story again. Washington Irving was masterful at creating scenes and setting atmosphere but The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was a 20 page examination of the little village and the loves of Ichabod Crane (women, food, writings et al) The Horseman, though mentioned a handful of times, did not appear until the last couple pages and then it alluded to the idea that Brom Bones was the culprit, in disguise, to frighten the poor hero Ichabod.
There have been other writings and interpretations of the Sleepy Hollow story that focus more on the spectral form of the Headless Horseman. I believe this movie was done in the spirit of those other works and is among the best. It brings to life the setting of this little valley and attempts to recreate the feeling that Washington Irving described best in his story. It was indicated that Sleepy Hollow was a magical and dream like place, thus the name "Sleepy Hollow." In this little upstate valley the strangest things occur and such ghosts and goblins roam freely if only in the mind of the inhabitants. Tim Burton manages to capture that sensation and allows the audience to feel as if they stepped not into a theater, but another world.
Andrew Kevin Walker's workup and translation of the story also makes for a compelling movie. Allowing the changes for the movie adaptation were a sign of genius. Displacing the hero and introducing him to the Sleepy Hollow atmosphere along with the audience, enhanced the experience. Giving a clear background for the Horseman, which is only briefly provided in the original story, was also an improvement to the movie's story. Let's face it, if they had made a 105 minute movie that tried to replicate the original short story there would have been whole theaters full of "sleepy" patrons.
The acting was also superb giving a hand to Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci for fabulous performances. As for the rest of the cast? Fantastic. To see all of these wonderful actors in secondary roles was a treat. Starting with Christopher Lee as the chief magistrate in New York; Jeffrey Jones, Michael Gough, Ian McDiarmid, Michael Gambon, Miranda Richardson and even Casper Van Dien all did magnificent work.
Though the story lagged at moments, they were few and far between. The editing in the beginning was a bit choppy but ran more fluently after the 20-30 minute point. An excellent adaptation of a great story. This was definitely a movie that Burton was born to make.
Tim Burton has brought this timeless classic to life! "Sleepy Hollow" is a very fine film, with horrific delights, a touch of romance, and witty humor. I was very impressed with the cinematography and the elaborate costumes in this film. Also, the music and sound effects complimented this frightening and legendary story of the murderous Headless Horseman. Overall, I believe this is an excellent film and will definitely be remembered as a landmark in the thriller/horror genre of film.
I just saw Sleepy Hollow in an advanced Preview show in the UK. I went with a couple of mates, all of whom had seen some Tim Burton before but only I was a big fan. I simply love Tim Burton's surreal style of directing and of all the films I've seen of his (Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissor Hands, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks!, etc.) I thought only Mars Attacks! Was less than superb. ESH for example has a superbly innocent atmosphere to it but it extremely dark at times. So now, with the release of a new Tim Burton film (of a story I remember fondly from the old Disney Cartoon of the 50's) I was rather excited to see it! And so, I sat in the darkened cinema at my local Multiplex and was amazed. From the dark and mysterious opening to the more humour-spiked yet no less horrific end this is one of my favourite films ever! I'm a big horror film fan and was so looking forward to seeing what take Tim Burton would have a true horror film. My god, he did well. The look of the piece is both extremely dark and evil (the Horseman kills men, women and children with equal relish) but it retains scenes of beautiful, dreamlike states once again making good use of Mr. Burton's own thoughts and visions. It's a very funny film too. Depp is great as an Englishman (only slipping into American twang in one syllable early on in the movie) who will battle the horseman and inspect headless, beetle filled corpses with gusto but then leap onto a chair, screaming when he sees a spider! Christina Ricci was also very good. Usually, her parts are beautiful yet rather evil characters that look innocent and pure until you look into her eyes not this time though. She just looks, well, sweet! She's softly spoken, and very caring and that's it, no daggers in the pupils, no sly frowns to the camera. Christopher Walken made the small role he had in the headless horseman (he played him on the few occasions he actually had a head) his own with his usual evil visage and a load of screaming! Plus nastily shaved down teeth. The real masterstroke of this film though, or at least its main bad guy is the use of Ray Park. For those of you who saw Episode One and enjoyed the lightsabre battle at the end, Ray Park was Darth Maul! He brings a very modern look to the fighting, most scenes are fought with a sword in one hand and an axe in the other! Its like a medieval John Woo! But almost every time that he gets hold of a weapon he does some kind of stylish one-handed flip to the sound of wonderfully over-the-top swish sounds! The deaths, most of which decapitations of course, are all seen onscreen in their full, gory glory. Not a single piece of blood escapes the cameras here! The film really does have a lot of blood in it but it's a kind of comic book redder than red blood, which adds to the whole films not quite real feel. The cinematography is once again, from Burton, superb. The vile smog0filled 18th century New York and the Scarecrow at the beginning. My god, the scarecrow, its so evil! Onscreen for a second but its image lasts But anyway, in short, this is a fantastic film. Burton has never done anything this visually eye-popping before (take a bow Industrial Light & Magic). The plot is both intriguing and whimsical, the acting excellent, it has a cameo from Hammer Horror master Christopher Lee and it boasts one of the most evil, most frightening, most superbly realized supernatural baddies I've ever seen and I've seen plenty! Go see this film if you like horror or you just want some fast-paced fun 9 out of 10
Drawing from his Gothic roots (Edward Scissorhands, Nightmare Before Christmas) Burton has created a truly chilling horrific fantasy that keeps you guessing at every turn. The use of special effects is seemless and yet again, as in his other films, Burton excels at creating a whole look and feeling for the piece. He has managed to re-work the classic horror genre staying true to his own highly personal style and catering to post- Wes Craven cinema audiences' cynicism without taking itself too seriously a la Blair Witch. It is so refreshing to see the work of an art-house genius who hasn't let a big hollywood budget get to his head. Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci give charming performances as ever, as do rest of the assembled anglo-Brit. star-studded cast. They all look like they had a ball, as will you!
"Sleepy Hollow" has to be one of the best horror movies that I've seen
for a long time. The story has been brought to life by excellent camera
work and mind blowing cinematography. Tim Burton does another brilliant
work directing this movie, securing his spot as one of the best
directors in present day Hollywood. Also the veteran Francis Ford
Coppola comes back from 'retirement' by being the executive producer
for this big budgeted movie. The visual effects are stunning, and the
dolby surround sound makes the regular cinema goer feel like he is back
to the mysterious village of Sleepy Hollow. The background music is
also very soothing, and it sets the tone for the movie.
The movie could have turned into "The Exorcist" fame of horror but Johnny Depp uncanny knack of being creative in front of the camera has turned Detective Ichabod Crane into some sort of Comic Relief. But this relieves the tension greatly as the dark and foggy village creates a sense of utmost mystery and drama and makes the viewer believe that something terrible is about to happen.......
Christopher Walken, though barely has any lines to say in the entire movie he is concrete and is superb through his body actions, re creating the terrifying Headless Horse man a.k.a. "The Hessian Horseman" Michael Gambon is also very good as the Landlord Van Tassel, and young Christina Ricci portraying the young witch, the love interest of Johnny Depp steals the show away from Miranda Richardson, the evil witch plotting to take away all the gold of old Baltus Van Tassel, even at the expense of her rich husband, step daughter and her own flesh and blood, her sister. The movie can be a bit graphic at certain stages especially during the murders but overall, if you watch this in a movie theatre it is bound to give you the creeps, and it will make you feel jittery for a loong time. Overall 10/10..........
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