Sleepy Hollow Movie Compared To The Book

Sleepy Hollow: Movie Compared To The Book Essay, Research Paper


“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a short story by Washington Irving. Based on a well-known legend, this story tells the tale of the disappearance of the main character, Ichabod Crane. An effective ghost story, Irving leaves you guessing what the truth is behind the ending. The movie Sleepy Hollow is Hollywood’s portrayal of Irving’s original story. Although the movie is similar to the story in the beginning, the movie takes a twist that leads in another direction that strays far from the original plot.

The original story by Washington Irving starts out in a small town of Sleepy Hollow. Irving paints an image of bountiful crops, beautiful scenery, and prosperous landowners. Ichabod Crane was a local pedagogue, who taught at the local schoolhouse. He was known for his strict ways and yet he was very popular amongst the families of his students- especially the ones who had “pretty sisters.” Ichabod enjoyed spending fall evenings with the old widows as they sat by a fire and told stories of ghosts and demons and other supernatural beings. One story that was always told was one of the legendary Headless Horsemen. The tale tells of a soldier who had his head shot off with a cannon ball. His ghost now roamed Sleepy Hollow on his horse, looking for his lost head. In place of his head, sits a jack-o-lantern, which had a fiery glow.

Intertwined with this short story is a love story, or rather a story of pure lust and greed. Ichabod Crane was in “love” with a girl named Katrina Van Tassel. Katrina was the daughter of the wealthy and prosperous landowner, Heer Van Tassel. Ichabod’s pursuit of Katrina was for purely physical and lustful reasons. His desires to be wealthy and own the Van Tassel estate along with Katrina’s beauty drove him to pursue her. Unfortunately, standing in Ichabod’s way was the handsome Brom Van Brunt, otherwise known as Brom Bones. Brom was a troublesome young man who was known for his pranks and troublemaking while riding his horse DareDevil. Brom was in love with Katrina as well and was severely jealous of Ichabod’s attempts to marry her.

One dark and lonely night, after a dance at the Van Tassel estate, Ichabod attempted to travel home. On his old horse, Gunpowder, he slowly made his way through the dark woods that crossed his path. Unfortunately, appearing from the dark shadows came a headless figure, which frightened Ichabod. In an attempt to escape, he ran to the covered bridge where the horseman was supposed to disappear into a burst of fire. Unfortunately, the figure flung its pumpkin head at Ichabod, knocking him off his horse and knocking him unconscious state that the next day, all that remained was a smashed pumpkin. Ichabod had disappeared. The story leaves you guessing what really happened. Did Ichabod run away, or did the Haunted Horseman kill him? Or was it Brom Bones, who married Katrina shortly after his opponent’s disappearance, and laughed every time there was mention of the pumpkin.

The director Tim Burton created his own vision on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hallow was a movie about a detective named Ichabod Crane who has his own vision on how crimes can be solved. He is sent to a small, dreary town called Sleepy Hollow, to solve the murder of three town’s people. Once Ichabod arrives in town, he meets Katrina, whom he falls in love with, which is not to the liking of Brom, the jealous beau of Katrina. The beginning of the story is almost exactly like the original story, except that Ichabod is now a detective, and he’s trying to solve a murder mystery of three dead people who have all had their heads cut off, although the heads are no where to be found. Although Burton did include Irving’s original tale in his story, he gave his version of what happened, in which case, Brom does pretend to be the cloaked horseman, yet that is only the beginning. With a sudden twist, Burton introduced magic and witchcraft into his tale. The truth behind the horseman is an actual demon that was behind the killings, yet is controlled by a witch. The lust and greed of the original plot no longer are on Ichabod’s mind, but now belong to the true witch, Katrina’s stepmother who has her own reasons for seeking revenge on the town of Sleepy Hollow. The movie’s plot took a path of its own and answered the question of whether or not the headless horseman was real or not. In then end, the witch is killed for the purpose of allowing Ichabod to win the girl, as well as make Ichabod the hero of the story. Eventually, Ichabod solves the case, the Headless horseman’s head is returned to him and he returns to hell, taking the witch along with him and good overcomes evil, a true Hollywood twist.

Both stories tell the tale of a person whose lust and greed lead to their destruction. In the original story, Ichabod’s desire for the Van Tassel estate led him to chase after a girl, and anger the local bully. His greed drove him to his destruction. Whatever his fate, he no longer returned to Sleepy Hollow and he lost the girl and land he wanted. Ichabod Crane was portrayed as a greedy self-absorbed man who would do anything to get what he wanted. The movie portrayed Ichabod as a decent man whose only goal was to do his job correctly and to stand up for people’s rights. Katrina’s stepmother becomes the symbol of jealousy and its repercussions. Her desire to control land and money leads her on the path of the supernatural in order to capture all that she desires. Although the film keeps you in suspense with gruesome details and heartfelt drama, Burton depicts his version of the story by answering the question of: what happened to Ichabod? Burton expanded on the theory of the possibility of a ghost, a demon of the supernatural world who was controlled by Katrina’s stepmother. The Headless Horseman was her tool to take revenge on the Van Tassel family. Not only has she taken revenge on the family, but also anyone who would be given control of the inheritance. Burton uses this story line to add in the theme in the theme of greed yet to take it away from the main character, Ichabod, in order to make him the hero of the story.

Between the two stories, I found Washington Irving’s version to be more appealing. With his choice of the ending, Irving used suspense in building the imagination. When talking about the Horseman, he used dark descriptions, which helped create an eerie mood, while talking about Katrina and the town he used bright images to help build a mental picture of the scenery. Irving’s motive was to let you use your imagination. Although he described the scene for you, you use your imagination to fill in the missing pieces. When it came to ending the story, Irving leaves you in suspense. In actuality, the movie has a completely different plot line from the original story, although both stories provide a helpless main character, which is truly incapable of fending for him. Yet the main theme with Ichabod was that in both, he was a teacher. Although in the movie he was a detective, he was a scientist who was willing to teach people his methods of solving crimes. While the original story leaves you wondering what happens to Ichabod, the movie leaves you with the question on whether or not everything can be explained by science. Ichabod tries the entire movie to try and figure out who is the murderer by using all his scientific explanations, yet in the end, there truly was a ghost. Both stories leave you thinking about the possibility of ghosts and demons.

When it comes to both stories, they both provide questions that leave us to ponder. While they have their similarities, the majority of ideas differ. The story lines differ in so many ways that they are two different stories with a few similarities that tie them together. Although I enjoyed watching the movie, I still find that I prefer the question that the original story left us wondering. What did happen to Ichabod Crane? Personally? I think he ran away.


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