It’s time for a book vs. movie post. Today I have a true horror classic for you: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. Tim Burton turned the story into a film in 1999 with Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci in the leading roles. So let’s see how that turned out!
Sleepy Hollow is a remote Dutch settlement in New York. However, it comes with a dark legend. Once upon a time a Hessian mercenary died there and has been haunting the villiage ever since. He is known as the Headless Horseman…
Book vs. Movie:
So let’s begin with the short story by Washington Irving.
To be perfectly honest, I am disappointed. The tales of the Headless Horseman are so iconic, I expected the original to be somewhat impressive. However, the story is not only very short, it’s also rather uneventful. Let me sum it up real quick for you: Ichabod Crane is the teacher in Sleepy Hollow and he’s courting Katrina Van Tassel (just like a bunch of other guys). One of them scares Ichabod by making him believe the Headless Horseman is after him. Well, he is so embarassed that he skips town.
So the original story is super uneventful. There were attempts at humor but those fell rather flat too.
However, Tim Burton’s movie is a whole other thing. I know there are lots of mixed reviews about this one, but I love it.
First of all, there’s so much more going on: Ichabod is a police constable who’s sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate some murders. While trying to convince the people that the Headless Horseman isn’t real, he falls for Katrina Van Tassel.
The atmosphere Burton created is downright chilly and the story is crafted extremely well. We get a bunch of suprising plot-twist and some good scare-scenes. Did I mention that Christopher Walken plays the Headless Horseman? He really gave me the creeps! His performance alone is worth watching the film.
The original story was far more boring than I had expected, but the Tim Burton adaptation is one of my favorite Johnny Depp films!
Did you read the book? Watch the movie? Let me know in the comments what you think!