Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by:Kevin Yager, Andrew Kevin Walker
Starring: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Casper Van Dien, Jeffrey Jones, Christopher Walken
Released: January 1, 2000
Grade: B-

Tim Burton’s a director who does things differently and its always refreshing to see an adaptation from his viewpoint.  His most recent films, Batman, Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, The Night Before Christmas and Mars Attacks!, are all illustrative examples of the “creepy” work this modern day wonder has conjured.

Washington Irving penned his novel, The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, way back in 1820 and it has been told countless times around campfires.  Set in 1799, we are introduced to Ichabod Crane (Depp), a detective who is disgusted with the New York legal system.  He is a scientist at heart and is of the belief that men should be judged by techniques such as deduction through finding clues rather than by the primitive methods of witchcraft.

To put his theories to the test, he is sent to the town of Sleepy Hollow where the suspected “Headless Horseman” has recently left three reputable citizens “headless”.  Depp informs the townspeople that this horseman “is a man of flesh and blood and I will discover him”.

Upon his arrival however, more are found with their heads severed and his theories start unravelling when he comes face-to-face with the Headless Horseman, meets a local “witch”, and becomes infatuated with Katrina (Ricci), the daughter of the town’s leading resident.

The settings, the costumes, the direction are all spot-on - they create the gloom and mystery of the mythical town of Sleepy Hollow to a picture, but the film gets bogged down in its detail and momentum is lost.  The spirit of the novel seems lost as screenwriters Kevin Yager and Andrew Kevin Walker cram too much of the book into the film.  There are so many characters with such complicated names and backgrounds - it’s hard to tell which character is which and who is related to whom.  Apart from the superlative duo of Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci, the rest of the talented cast are lost in  insignificant roles.

This rubs off on the entirety of the film.  It starts with such intrigue - who is this headless horseman and why he terrorising the people of Sleepy Hollow?   The intrigue however, soon turns to boredom and by the film’s lackluster conclusion, its barely holding your attention.