Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 5/25/00
1999 (2000) - Paramount
review by Todd Doogan of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/A+
Specs and Features
105 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch 32:45 in chapter 7),
Amaray keep case packaging, Sleepy
Hollow: Behind the Legend "making of"
featurette, audio commentary with director Tim Burton,
Reflections on Sleepy Hollow
(cast and crew interviews with film clips and behind-the-scenes
footage), photo gallery, cast and crew bios, production notes, 2
theatrical trailers, film-themed menu screens, scene access (19
chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0) and French (DD
2.0), subtitles English, Closed Captioned
You know, I don't
understand why more people didn't love this movie. I saw it opening
weekend, and just fell in love with it. But I read the reviews and
while most critics had negative things to say about it, no one
really had the same things to say about where the film supposedly
went wrong. I guess people just didn't see the value in it. But then
again, Tim Burton's Mars Attacks!
falls into the same type of category. I watched it with famed E!
Online gossip maven Anderson Jones (when he headed up Rough Cut and
I was a writer over there). He violently hated it, but I was rolling
in the aisles. All he could do was look at me like I was a mutant
when I laughed at all the references to cult sci-fi flicks. I
thought it was brilliant, Jones thought I was insane. Burton is just
one of those, "Guess you had to be there" kind of
filmmakers... and boy, I'm there every time.
To start off, this is not the Legend of
Sleepy Hollow you remember seeing as a kid. This is more
like Sleepy Hollow meets The
Alienist. There are some major changes to the original
Washington Irving story. First, Ichabod Crane isn't a schoolteacher
in this one - he's a cop in turn of the century New York City, sent
upstate to solve a series of mysterious murders. What he finds is an
evil so black and malignant, that it will chill your soul. It seems
that a real headless horseman is rampaging through a small town,
killing all of its elder statesmen. Why? Well that's the mystery
Ichabod must solve.
The charm in this film lies in Johnny Depp's portrayal of Crane.
He's best described (as Burton described him in early press junkets)
as this: Icabod Crane: Girl Detective. Crane is not a man's man. Nor
is he a wuss. He's a prim and proper gentleman with educated ideas
about how crime scene investigation should work. He's a flesh and
blood kind of guy, not believing in mumbo jumbo. Just as it was in
the original story, you have Katrina Van Tassel (Christina Ricci),
whose role has changed a bit as well. But to go into her backstory
would be reveling too much. Suffice to say that each and every
performance in this film is very good and very Burtonesque. This is
the perfect film for Tim and it all comes together quite nicely.
Paramount's new DVD is yet another wonderful entry in their cannon
- and it's even a full-blown special edition (though it isn't
labeled as such). We'll get to that in a second. Let's talk image
and sound. The video was done with an anamorphic transfer and it
looks beautiful. The quality in the blacks is quite strong, with
nice contrast, which is important for Burton films. This is an
almost black and white film and it's really stunning visually. It
looks like they used a silver retention print, which is to say that
the image is as rich as a bowl of chocolate mousse. If it appears
almost white, don't fret - that's the look. In case you doubt it,
wait until you see some blood and note how rich looking it is. The
audio is also quite wonderful. It's a full-on experience with very
nice bass (which comes in handy for the sound of hell horse hooves)
and a good wide soundstage up front. The English audio is present in
both Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 and both sound great. For you
Frencies out there, we got you covered in 2.0 as well.
The fact that this is a special edition is surprising, given that
it's a Paramount disc. But that's a welcome change. There are two
behind-the-scenes featurettes, a commentary and some other fun
stuff. The commentary is very well done, with Burton in
conversational mode. He's not too talkative, but what he does say
sheds some light onto the way he thinks in terms of his films, which
is nice. It's not too surprising to know that he's a fanboy like
most of us. The documentaries are light in tone, but very well done.
The first is a more official "behind the scenes" look at
the making of the film, whereas the one listed as "interviews
with cast and crew" is just that, but in doc form. You'll also
find two trailers, a small collection of photos from the film and
some well-written cast and crew bio/filmographies. It's a nice
little set and I hope we see more of this sort of thing from
Burton was made for DVD, and it's great to see him embracing the
format with this title and Pee Wee's Big
Adventure. I hope we see more of his films done with the
same care and consideration as this one. I'm expecting this disc to
fly off the shelves and it will definitely pass everyone's muster.
Give it a chance if you haven't already. Just think of it as a love
letter to the old Hammer Horror films, signed by Burton. Just don't
lose your head. Okay... that was stupid, I know.