In 1999, Tim Burton's "Sleepy Hollow" was the talk of my seventh grade class. Christina Ricci was super popular from previous films such as "Casper"(1995) and "The Adams Family"(1991) and Johnny Depp was just starting to come into my fantasies as a twelve year old kid. I definitely snuck into this movie with my five dollar weekly allowance.
10 years later, while sitting in American Gothic and reading the syllabus, I got so flustered when I saw that we would be reading the actual legend, the story of where it all began. Even without Depp, I was still anticipating the legend because it's part of the American gothic genre and its probably "dirty-your-pants" scary.
Well SUPRISE! the short story was terrible! It wasn't scary, it didn't make me jump, or cringe, or sleep with one eye open. In fact, it had the opposite effect...it did the same thing that warm milk does...it had me sleeping like a baby. First of all, Ichabod Crane is such a little social weasel, trying to win the heart of Katrina Van Tassel so he can have a piece of her family fortune. He's described as scrawny, awkward and a social outcast. The Ichabod in the film had much more dignity and definitely more sex appeal. In the short story, Katrina Van Tassel is described as an overweight sow who is a spoiled brat and loves to indulge herself in the finer things in life. Yet, in the movie, Katrina is voluptuous, sexy and mysterious. Second, the setting of the short story isn't described as being horrifyingly dark and mysterious in the short story. It simply states that people from Sleepy Hollow are isolated from others and the women love to gossip. The film captures the essence of Gothic Literature perfectly, where every scene is dark, forests are creepy and everyone is as pale as vampires.
This past weekend "Sleepy Hollow" was on TV and, believe it or not, I had to pull out my old Barbie night light from seventh grade just so I could get a little shut-eye.
Check out the film's trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYHt8SdUj-U.
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