The Fine Art of Getting Ahead
Sleepy Hollow
Review by Ross Anthony

Tim Burton's films are oft anticipated for his boldly off-center and usually dark art direction. "Sleepy Hollow" is no exception. The warm colors have bled from the footage leaving the flesh stark, cold and clammy, and the darks -- soot black. Burton also enjoys painting a "small world" set with which to stage his sideways stories. Frequently, these worlds are neither live action looking nor quite animated. I find them cartoony, claustrophobic and distracting, but I'm probably one of only a handful; others seem to enjoy them.

Gadgetry, on the other hand, Burton excels in -- gadgetry and freakish characters. Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) wields coroner's tool that look as if they were designed for handicapped piranhas. And Burton's Headless Horseman is simply magnificent; it's the heart and soul (though not brains) that keeps this "Sleepy Hollow" charging mightily through the foggy twisted forest. This powerful black torso with limbs spinning sword and hatchet from atop a pounding steed is as splendid as a bolt of lightening from the heavens.

Unfortunately, sleepy and hollow all too appropriately describe the first half of the production (prior to any significant appearance of the horseman). Wrought with exposition and an elusively wry sense of humor giving even the artfully apt Depp a larger foe to over come than the one of high shoulders; the horseman charges on, breathing life (from it's severed esophagus) into this paling production.

  • Sleepy Hollow. Copyright © 1999. Rated R.
  • Starring Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci and Christopher Walken, Marc Pickering.
  • Directed by Tim Burton.
  • Screenplay by Andrew Kevin Walker.
  • Produced by Scott Rudin and Adam Schroeder at Mandalay/Lion's Gate/Paramount/American Zoetrope.


Copyright © 1999. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:53:59 PDT