Author’s Note: This article is written on Tim Burton’s film Sleepy Hollow (1999), and not the short story to which it was based, or any other adaptations of the story. The comments and observations have no knowledge of other works. Thank you.
Additional Note: All articles on MK Horror contain spoilers.
Article written by Maggie K. Ward
Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow tells the American fairy tale about the headless horseman (Christopher Walken). Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is sent to Sleepy Hollow to solve the mystery of several beheadings in the town. Being a practical man, he dismissed the theory of the headless horseman. To his surprise the tale is truer than he thought.
Burton’s unique style certainly gives Sleepy Hollow the beautiful and dark feel that it has. Drawing from German Expressionism, his style focus on monochromatic colors, angles, and bizarre imagery. The entire set contains tiny details the made the town feel mysterious.
Like most amazing horror films, Sleepy Hollow has the perfect balance between horror, romance, and comedy. At some points it is difficult to decide whether one should laugh or scream. The scene when Crane goes to the dead body of Jonathan Masbeth in the woods. The humor in this scene helps to soften the blow of the dead body. The ideas he has about crime solving are silly. “You must never move the body,” he logically states. However his reasoning is merely, “because.” The gadgets he uses are ridiculous and bug like as well. This adds unexpected humor to the horror of the film.
Personally, what I love most about Tim Burton’s films (his good ones anyways) is Danny Elfman. More often than not, without Elfman, Burton’s films tend to be a bit drag. The perfect example would be Sweeny Todd. Elfman brings emotion to films that visuals cannot express. His scores tend to make you feel with realizing it. The foundation to a great film is great audio.
All in all, Sleepy Hollow is one of my favorite films. It has everything from love and romance to witchcraft and death to swordfights and fire. Burton matches his style with Elfman’s music to create a marvelous film.