“The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow”: Washington Irving's Story Vs. Tim Burton's Movie

951 words - 4 pages

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a short story written by Washington Irving.

It tells the story of a school teacher who is enamored by the daughter of a wealthy

landowner. His daughter named Katrina has two suitors, the school teacher,

Ichabod Crane and the more attractive and popular townsperson named Brom. Not only is

there a written story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, but in 1999 director Tim Burton

created a movie “Sleepy Hollow” loosely based off of the well-known story. The

names of the characters and the site of the town are consistent with the story but that is

where the similarities between the movie and the story end. Although there are

differences between the film and the story, Tim Burton’s version is successful in creating

a film of a ghost story that takes place in Sleepy Hollow.

The story the of Ichabod Crane paints a picture of the headmaster of a small town

school. A man who lives with his students’ parents in trade for doing the occasional odd

job. He owns very little material goods but has an insatiable appetite for luxury and

food. The story, told in the third person describes him with a small head “flat at top,

with huge ears, large green glassy eyes and a long snipe nose, ….”. He is said to have

long skinny arms and legs and is obsessed with all things occult. In comparison the

character that Johnny Depp portrays in the movie is a very logical man who does not

believe in things he cannot see.

Johnny Depp’s depiction of Ichabod Crane is of a scientific detective who has

been trained by Scotland yard and is sent to Sleepy Hollow to solve the murders of local

towns people. Through his acting we can see that in all cases Ichabod is not

very comfortable with gruesome situations. For instance when he evaluates the first crime

scene he shutters at the sight of the decapitated body. The movie character is also seen as

a man of science In the written story Crane is described as a reader of ghost

stories with a love of witchcraft resulting in a character that is more of a believer in the

spiritual. The movie character and the story character share the same name but are not the

same in any other respect.

Throughout the story Irving references birds or fowl while only a few references

are included in the film, the cardinal on the toy and the bird that Crane sets free


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