The curse of The Headless Horseman (Christopher Walken) is the legacy of the small town of Sleepy Hollow. Spearheaded by the eager Constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) and his new world ways into the quagmire of secrets and murder, secrets once laid to rest, best forgotten and now reawakened, and he too, holding a dark secret of a past once gone.Written by
Responsible for the production design was Rick Heinrichs, whom director Tim Burton intended to use on Superman Lives. While the production crew was always going to build a substantial number of sets, the decision was taken early on that to fulfill Burton's vision best would necessitate shooting this movie in a completely controlled environment at Leavesden Film Studios. The production design was influenced by Burton's love for Hammer Film Productions and Black Sunday (1960), particularly the supernatural feel they evoked as a result of being filmed primarily on soundstages. Heinrichs was also influenced by American colonial architecture, German Expressionism, Dr. Seuss illustrations, and Hammer Film Productions' Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968). One soundstage at Leavesden was dedicated to the "Forest to Field" set, for the scene in which the Headless Horseman races out of the woods and into a field. This stage was then transformed into, variously, a graveyard, a cornfield, a field of harvested wheat, a churchyard, and a snowy battlefield. In addition, a small backlot area was devoted to a New York City street and waterfront tank. See more »
When Baltus van Tassel is explaining to Ichabod about the headless horseman, Baltus is in front of the fireplace, and then when shown again he's over to the right by Magistrate Philipse's chair, and then he is shown again by the fireplace, and then shown again he's back by the chair. See more »
The opening credits - shown over Ichabod's travel to Sleepy Hollow - interact with the landscape: if Ichabod's coach is near a river, the words are reflected on the surface of the water; if he's in a forest the letters drift away like dead leaves, and so on. See more »
To get a "Not under 12" rating the German version was cut for violence. The uncut version was released on video/DVD and is rated "Not under 16". See more »
The Swallow/The Colly Flower
Performed and arranged by Hesperus
Courtesy of Maggie's Music, Inc. See more »
Looks fantastic but never quite engages as it should
I found this a little hard to pin down but if there is a problem with Sleepy Hollow then it probably lies with Johnny Depp and the depiction of supernatural fantasy here without ever making it convincing. Depp is all over the place in this one, adopting a comic tone in a movie that really shouldn't have one, and coming across like a poor man's Bob Hope than anything else. His frequent fainting is ridiculous.
To make the supernatural convincing in movies you need to build up to it and handle it carefully; but Tim Burton just throws it at the viewer, making it far less believable (and effective) than it could have been.
The main compensations in the film are how jaw-droppingly Gothic-gorgeous it looks (almost taken for granted when Tim Burton's the director), and the chance to see some great old actors do their stuff. Christopher Lee, Michael Gambon, Michael Gough (yayy the star of Konga is back!) etc give it an air of class, and Christopher Walken is genuinely creepy as the horseman.
Burton's main weakness is that he struggles to tell his story as well as he might - probably only in Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood (maybe he should film MR. ED next!) does he keep the narrative on an even keel. And yet his love of horror films is so genuine it comes through in every frame. The windmill used at the film's climax is surely an homage to both Frankenstein and The Brides of Dracula. If only Depp had played it straight the movie might have worked much better.
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