I feel that Sleepy Hollow is yet another masterpiece crafted by Tim Burton, a man who, I think, considers himself more of an artist than a filmmaker.
Directors: Tim Burton
Producers: Scott Rudin & Adam Schroeder
Writers: Washington Irving
Features: Interactive Menus, Scene Selection, 2 Theatrical Trailers, Exclusive Cast & Crew Interviews, Exclusive "Behind The Legend" Featurette, Commentary With Director Tim Burton, Selected Cast Biographies, Photo Gallery, Video: Widescreen 1.85:1 (Anamorphic), Audio: ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 [CC], ENGLISH: Dolby Digital Surround [CC], FRENCH: Dolby Digital Surround, Subtitles: English
Ichabod Crane - Johnny Depp
Katrina Van Tassel - Christina Ricci
Brom Van Brunt - Casper Van Dien
Lady Van Tassel/Crone - Miranda Richardson
Baltus Van Tassel - Michael Gambon
I feel that Sleepy Hollow is yet another masterpiece crafted by Tim Burton, a man who, I think, considers himself more of an artist than a filmmaker. Burton had to travel to Europe to find barely tamed "American" countryside, but he kept true to his vision by building the entire set from the ground up. He even went so far as to populate the small, newborn village with livestock. Burton's vision captures the wildness of a true, rural community. Each twisted, leafless branch portrays the sense of isolation and mystery, which is always a breeding ground for folklore. The fact that "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is one of only a few American folk tales only adds to its allure. How could Burton resist?
And you ask, "Well, what did you think of Depp?" For this paragraph, I shall put away all of my gushing remarks about Johnny, including the depth of his eyes, the thick tendrils of his hair, the curve of his buttocks. I will contain myself to discussing his choice of role-play in this film. Yes, Kelly, Ichabod was not a handsome man. He was described in Irving's tale as tall and thin with a large nose, large eyes, and hands that dangled out of his shirtsleeves. But, he was also a very intelligent man, which is why Katrina was so enamored with him, and why, of course, he evoked the hatred of the town bully. In Depp's defense, in the HBO interview, he stated that the production studio (ahem...paramount) would not allow him to wear prosthetic facial structures, which limited him when it came to "looking" the part. I thought Depp gave a very spirited performance with a thick, rich, gooey character. His facial expressions alone (oh, those eyes) saved his performance from early death. My only criticism would lie in background information. 1) Those fabulous dream sequences were explained in, I believe, a total of two sentences about his mother, and seemed thrown in for congruency. 2) Being such an avid scientist, and working in New York City, you would believe that Crane would be just a tad bit less squeamish about headless bodies. Now, this I will half-heartedly defend myself. Ichabod, in the book, is a teacher, a bookish man who would have fainted at every opportunity, and, if my memory serves, did. So, then perhaps Burton was attempting to remain true to the literary character. Then, should Burton have considered another profession for our film version? 3) In those infamous two lines about Crane's mother, we realize that Crane has chosen science as a religion because of the persecution of his mother, the "free spirit." I would assume then that Crane had investigated several alternate religions in his life, which may have included witchcraft (his mother's trade) which would have made him less willing to accuse Katrina of having committed the murders. I mean, for goodness sake, everyone in the theater just knew that she didn't do it. I think a little bit of his father was showing through. 4) I, personally, felt no romance in the movie. The few romantic moments in the movie seem forced, unnatural, and at times unfounded. I don't know whether to blame that on Depp, Ricci, or Burton.
Ricci? First, I will state that I'm not a big fan of hers. She's stilted. I don't consider her believable. I kept saying to myself that, in this movie, she appeared to be rather lovely. The camera angles were excellent and her paleness seemed more natural than I expected and definitely less severe than her day-to-day look. That's all I have to say about her.
Burton? You know, I love to watch his films. I just love to "watch" them. His vision is so distinct and precise. It's amazing to look at his storyboards and note that the film differs only in matters of practicality. Yet, his vision is part that captivates. In Batman, for example, developed not only the mental character of the dark knight, the character of all of Gotham City. The decay of the society was evident in every twisted buttress and dark alley. In Ed Wood, Burton used cinematic techniques such as black and white footage and poor sound to actually force the viewer to pretend that they were watching an old B-movie. In this movie, Burton took for the countryside. He grabbed mist, shadow, and overcast skies to evoke fear and isolation. The windmill alone was a twisted icon to not only the move away from rural America, but the political decay of this small town. I consider Burton a visual poet. To boot, Burton surrounds himself with fellows artistic souls, such as Anton Furst and Danny Elfman who obviously enjoy working with him (or else they wouldn't do it so much).
I jeer at Warner Brothers who chose not to support Burton in this latest film adventure.
Overall, I loved Sleepy Hollow. It was a wonderful, mystical romp through an obvious fairy tale that excited and enthralled the viewer. I just wished it hadn't wrapped itself up quite so succinctly at the end. I mean, for Pete's sake, they let Costner go on for hours, but they cut Burton off?