Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow Essay

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Comparing Tim Burton’s "Sleepy Hollow" with Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

In examining Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” alongside Tim Burton’s film adaption of the story, titled “Sleepy Hollow,” a number of fascinating similarities and differences emerge. Though elements of the characters and settings of Burton’s film borrow heavily from Irving’s text, the overall structuring of the film is significantly different, and representations of various elements are crucially re-imagined. Tim Burton’s “Sleepy Hollow” was released on November 19, 1999, a few months before the new millennium. Set in 1799, Burton’s film modifies the 1790 date that Irving’s text is set in, showing an acute concern with
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There is no narrator at all in Burton’s film, and the action that the characters experience is firsthand, not retrospective or omniscient. Such a move takes away from the “folk legend” element of the story, transforming it into a supernatural spectacle for on the screen instead of a possibly-supernatural tale for around the fireplace. The ways in which Irving and Burton code the city and the country in their respective productions is similarly impacted by the periods in which each man was working. Irving’s “Sleepy Hollow” emphasizes local culture and the power of myth making within these cultures. In Irving’s town of Sleepy Hollow, the tale of the headless horseman reigns, but does not extend outside of the local realm, and does not necessarily physically manifest: when Ichabod leaves for the city at the end of the narrative, the horseman does not follow him. However, in Burton’s adaption, the tale of the headless horseman is not merely local folklore, but becomes elevated to the level of metropolitan ‘news’ through the literal act of murder instead of the mere legend of murder. Crime, then, elevates the cultural status of the horseman from local legend to state-wide murder suspect. Irving’s story, noted by scholars such as Daniel Hoffmann for its powerful interpretation of local myth and mythic tropes, is transported into the realm of the metropolitan through the re-characterization of New York as

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