Sleepy Hollow (1999)

“Sleepy Hollow” (1999)



Headless world

The engineering of any Tim Burton starts on the visual side. He is a master in creating his own specific and special vision for the stories he illustrates. And the word is quite correct, i think, he is fundamentally an illustrator. Most of the times he picks up stories, popular tales, slighted reinvented popular myths, and he embodies them in the creation of worlds the characters can inhabit. In a way, his mind works pretty much like that of a child, and i say it in the best way, there are few things better than a child’s mind. This specific mind is interesting to visit, quirky, dark, sometimes weird, but worth the look.

The problem is that most of the times, that specific vision, materialized on sets, and characterizations, is all there is to it. Many times he can’t make that world really live and move once he magnificently designed it. In this matter, Burton’s work is close to that of a designer, or an architect, who design spaces and objects, only for others to put life into them.

The problem of this film is that. The world is darkly good to visit, everything is finely built, from a visual perspective, worth the visit. But the narrative dynamics function mostly like any ordinary commercial production, and that ruins partially the experience. There’s no real mystery behind the story, and the interest in the headless knight is purely in his visual appearance (apparently the tale is quite known in the US, i didn’t know it so i didn’t expect anything in advance from it).

Depp is a great actor, one of the best these days, and i think one of his greatest qualities is to know how to place himself in advance. To understand that as an actor, his first and most important decision is to know how his specific character should play along with the context of the film so that he allows things to flow around him and through him. So notice how, despite being a protagonist, his performance always gives space to the side characters, making us analyse and ‘investigate’ them, in the same measure that Depp’s character is doing. We act with him. That’s great. Christina Ricci plays this game with him, and successful looks ‘just’ a side character with an emotional angle until the right moment in the story comes. This is hard to do, i think. I appreciated it.

My opinion: 3/5 check the acting, and visit the world Burton proposes.

This comment on IMDb


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