• Tobias Liberman

Review - Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow is an adaptation of the famed story by Washington Irving, revolving around a detective in the late eighteenth-century being sent to investigate a series of murders in the small town of Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow was directed by Tim Burton (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands) and stars Johnny Depp (Ichabod Crane), Christina Ricci (Katrina Van Tassel), Michael Gambon (Baltus Van Tassel), and Miranda Richardson (Lady Mary Van Tassel).


The first thing that I would like to talk about is the atmosphere, which is second to none. Recently, I watched Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood and was extremely surprised at how well the film set the atmosphere with only one scene. That same notable aspect applies to Sleepy Hollow. The movie begins with a citizen of the town being murdered by the film’s antagonist, the headless horseman, setting the tone for the rest of the film perfectly. This occurs whist Danny Elfman’s intense score plays. This, as well as a foggy background, gory effects, and some strong Halloween imagery perfectly set up the horror-filled atmosphere of this haunting story.


Anyone who is even the least familiar with his work can recognize a Tim Burton movie almost instantly. They are usually very dark (visually) and have an incredibly unique type of production design. Sleepy Hollow is no exception. The film is set in a small town in the 1700s, which gives Tim Burton a chance to play around with the eerie but nevertheless fantastical sets that he clearly loves to use. These sets not only add to the flawless atmosphere but help to give the film a very particular and peculiar look, a look which you will only find in a Tim Burton production.


Another great aspect of this film that goes hand in hand with the production design is the cinematography, which was shot by three-time academy award winner Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman, The Revenant). Every shot in Sleepy Hollow looks like a work of art, mostly because of the intricate framing and smooth camerawork, which helps to give the movie that dark and spooky look. The combination of the expressionist production design with the impeccable cinematography is the main reason why this film is so great. In this aspect, the film is similar to a Wes Anderson picture; both the production design and cinematography are great on their own, but combined create a unique, almost irreplaceable style, which you will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.


As for the acting in Sleepy Hollow, I can only say one thing: it is fantastic. Sleepy Hollow is filled to the brim with great performances. Every actor acts exactly like someone from the 1700s would act and does an impeccable job of capturing the film’s eerie spirit, but my favorite performance would probably be that of Johnny Depp, who plays Ichabod Crane to perfection. The actors’s charming performance is packed with subtle mannerisms and idiosyncrasies that only he could have pulled off as natural.


Overall, Sleepy Hollow is an amazing combination of atmospheric horror, and the fantastical eeriness of Tim Burton, and great performances from the ensemble cast. I highly recommend you check this out if you haven't already.


Here at The CinemaScope, we recommend this picture.


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©2020 by Oli Mora and Tobi Liberman / ©2020 The CinemaScope