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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> June 2000 >> Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
4 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
June 2000
IMDB Name:
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Tim Burton
horror, mystery, romance
MPAA Rating:
R for graphic horror violence and gore, and for a scene of sexuality.

Burtonic Atmosphere

Tim Burton is so skillful at taking audiences to new worlds that I'm beginning to think we should coin a name for it. We've seen it before, especially in Batman. Sleepy Hollow has a story that takes advantage of Burton's vast arsenal of atmospheric generators, and the result is enchanting to see. This movie is a triumph of beautiful cinematography, excellent costuming and set direction, and even of interesting action. Burton's capability with surreal visions is in full force, dazzling the mind with eye-popping visuals. The dream sequences, which are not always initially distinguishable from what little reality the film occupies, demonstrate a vivid imagination in a way that surpasses everything he's done before.

I have seen cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki's work before in Like Water for Chocolate and The Birdcage, but I never paid attention until now. Sleepy Hollow is his first teaming with Burton, but the immediacy with which Burton's vision leaps off the screen indicates that Lubezki knows his craft. I was amazed by the contrasts of color and cold that make every almost every shot compelling.

Spellbinding Casting

Unsurprisingly, many members of the cast and crew have worked with Burton in the past. Johnny Depp has starred in Ed Wood and Edward Scissorhands. There are moments in Sleepy Hollow where he looks more like Chris Sarandon in The Princess Bride than himself, further cementing his reputation as an actor who can disappear into a role. There's a strange quality to Christina Ricci, who looks a little young for Ichabod, but I can see the enchantment. The town elders, Michael Gambon, Ian McDiarmid, Jeffrey Jones, Richard Griffiths, and Michael Gough, elevate the material.


Sleepy Hollow represents several reunions. Ian McDiarmid and stunt men Ray Park and Rob Inch were all involved in The Phantom Menace. Martin Landau, Lisa Marie, Jeffrey Jones, and Johnny Depp all worked on Ed Wood. Michael Gough worked with Burton before as Alfred in Batman and Batman Returns.

Other Opinions

Copyright 2000-2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.