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Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the decapitations of three people, with the culprit being the legendary apparition, The Headless Horseman.
Sleepy Hollow is a 1999 American gothic supernatural horror film directed by Tim Burton. It is a film adaptation loosely based on Washington Irving’s 1820 short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, and stars Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci, with Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Christopher Lee and Jeffrey Jones in supporting roles. The plot follows police constable Ichabod Crane (Depp) sent from New York City to investigate a series of murders in the village of Sleepy Hollow by a mysterious Headless Horseman.
Development began in 1993 at Paramount Pictures, with Kevin Yagher originally set to direct Andrew Kevin Walker’s script as a low-budget slasher film. Disagreements with Paramount resulted in Yagher’s being demoted to prosthetic makeup designer, and Burton was hired to direct in June 1998. Filming took place from November 1998 to May 1999.
The film had its world premiere at Mann’s Chinese Theatre on November 17, 1999 and was released in the United States on November 19, 1999, by Paramount Pictures. It received generally positive reviews from critics, with many praising the performances, direction, screenplay and musical score, as well as its dark humor, visual effects and atmosphere. It grossed approximately $207 million worldwide. Sleepy Hollow won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction.
Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane: Crane is a quirky, yet sympathetic constable infatuated with integrating modern science into police procedures (early forensic science), but is squeamish at the sight of blood and bugs.
Christina Ricci as Katrina Van Tassel: Ichabod’s love interest and the only heir to one of the town’s richest farmers.
Miranda Richardson as Lady Mary Van Tassel (née Archer; she falsely uses “Preston” as her maiden name): The aloof wife of Baltus and stepmother of Katrina, who is revealed to be a vengeful witch. Richardson also portrays the Crone Witch, Lady Van Tassel’s sister.
Michael Gambon as Baltus Van Tassel: Katrina’s father. After Peter Van Garrett is murdered, he is placed as the leader of the town.
Casper Van Dien as Brom Van Brunt: A strong and arrogant aristocratic man who is romantically involved with Katrina.
Jeffrey Jones as Reverend Steenwyck: The austere, corrupt town pastor.
Christopher Lee as the Burgomaster.
Richard Griffiths as Magistrate Samuel Philipse: The drunken town magistrate.
Ian McDiarmid as Dr. Thomas Lancaster: The town doctor and surgeon.
Michael Gough as Notary James Hardenbrook: The wizened, cowardly town banker.
Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 69% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 122 reviews with an average rating of 6.3/10. The site’s critics consensus states, “It isn’t Tim Burton’s best work, but Sleepy Hollow entertains with its stunning visuals and creepy atmosphere.” Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 65 out of 100 based on 35 reviews from mainstream critics, considered to be “generally favorable”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “B-” on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert praised Johnny Depp’s performance and Tim Burton’s methods of visual design. “Johnny Depp is an actor able to disappear into characters,” Ebert continued, “never more readily than in one of Burton’s films.”Richard Corliss wrote, in his review for Time, “Burton’s richest, prettiest, weirdest [film] since Batman Returns. The simple story bends to his twists, freeing him for an exercise in high style.”
David Sterritt of The Christian Science Monitor highly praised Burton’s filmmaking and the high-spirited acting of cast, but believed Andrew Kevin Walker’s writing was too repetitious and formulaic for the third act.
Owen Gleiberman from Entertainment Weekly wrote Sleepy Hollow is “a choppily plotted crowd-pleaser that lacks the seductive, freakazoid alchemy of Burton’s best work.” Gleiberman compared the film to The Mummy, and said “it feels like every high-powered action climax of the last 10 years. Personally, I’d rather see Burton so intoxicated by a movie that he lost his head.”
Andrew Johnston of Time Out New York wrote: “Like the best of Burton’s films, Sleepy Hollow takes place in a world so richly imagined that, despite its abundant terrors, you can’t help wanting to step through the screen.”