Sleepy Hollow – 15

Sleepy Hollow – 15
Release date 22nd Novemeber 1999
Rewatch date: 1.10.2017
From IMDB:
The curse of the headless horseman is the legacy of the small town of Sleepy Hollow. Spearheaded by the eager Constable Ichabod Crane 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.

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Sigh. Back when I still enjoyed watching Johnny Depp. I remember seeing the posters declaring ‘heads will roll’ during the summer of 1999. I so desperately wanted to see it. It wasn’t until the following summer that I saw it and fell completely in love with the whole production. To the point that it became the focus of one of my Textile projects in Year 11.

For me, it’s my favourite Tim Burton film; replacing my love of Beetlejuice in a heartbeat. While there are elements within the film that identify it as a Burton, it also stands apart from the others for many reasons.

Their heads weren’t found severed. Their heads were not found at all.


Long before I got bored of the Burton/Depp bromance, this was the epitome of their partnership. Depp is the beautiful and charming, if not wimp like, Ichabod Crane. It’s on the cusp of being cartoonish, but the darkness of the plot keeps it at bay and allows the role to provide the heavy film with a little humour.

Christina Ricci is a far better fit for this than Burton’s two other leading ladies from his past and future; Winona Ryder and Helena Bonham Carter. Ricci plays the bewitching Catrina quite perfectly.

Keen eyes will spot Burton regular Jeffery Jones as the Reverend, but it’s the bulk of the remaining cast that makes this a winner for me. It’s a British feast of acting chops; Miranda Richardson, Ian McDiarmid, Richard Griffiths and Michael Gambon. Well done if you recognised three of those names from Harry Potter. Yet to be a thing when I watched it the first time, Gambon was not a regular face to me, but clearly someone of calibre. It was upon a later rewatch I cooed ‘Dumbledore’, and of course Miranda Richardson will forever be ‘Queenie’ to me.

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The millennium is almost upon us. In a few months, we will be living in the nineteenth century. But our courts continue to rely on medieval devices of torture.

This was one of the first films that really grabbed me for its stylisation; the tone, the use of camera lenses to add depth and almost a lack of colour to the film and the flashbacks for exposition.
That tree! The tree of the dead; such a wonderful and gruesome focal point for a lot of the film’s second half. It still fascinates me to this day.
The soundtack is one of Danny Elfman’s best work and I long for the day the Royal Albert Hall announce that they will be showing this film with a live orchestra.
There’s something odd and compelling about the use and representation of blood in the film. Going back to consider the filters used on the cameras I did a bit of research and it appears that the liquid used was actually bright orange in order to appear red in the finished film. Again, the physicality to the process can only add to the movie’s brilliance. Especially when you consider how most films would fix this now post-shoot.

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 Kill it! No, no! Stun it!

Christopher Walken
I know he wasn’t the Horseman; there was a stand in/ stunt guy for those headless scenes. However, he is so convincing when on screen; I chose to believe it actually is the legend himself.
He’s a brilliant, yet scary man and perfect casting to round out this amazing movie.

No, you must believe me. It was a horseman, a dead one. Headless.


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