It's legend time again. Not too long after Joan Of Arc, we have another legend adapted for the big screen. This time it is just a novel, though - Washington Irving's The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow. Heads sure do roll - including our own - in this, one helluva thriller.
It's 1799, and we are in New York City. Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is a constable with a predilection for using scientific techniques in the investigation of crime. The conservative establishment is not too chuffed about this and, in order to get rid of him, they send him to the town of Sleepy Hollow where three decapitated bodies have been discovered.
So, Constable Crane lands in the town, which would give any one the creeps - a name like 'Sleepy Hollow' doesn't exactly paint a gleeful picture. He puts up at the Van Tassels' (Michael Gambon and Miranda Richardson) place. Pretty soon, he finds himself fascinated by their daughter, Katrina (Christina Ricci).
But there are bigger things on hand. The entire town believes the murders have been committed by a headless horseman (Christopher Walken), who was originally a German mercenary working for the British, during the revolution. This horseman had a flair for lopping off heads, till the day he lost his own. The reason for this late rampage: his skull has been stolen from his grave.
But our constable has more rational considerations on his mind. And yet, despite these intentions, he is forced to leave his 'scientific tools' behind. Nothing could convince him of the legend more than the sight of the horseman himself, and he gets more than his share of it.
So, what is behind the mystery - a mortal or an evil soul? If a mortal, then who? Believe me! The answers are not easy to come by.
The artwork in the film is queer by any means. The town seems to be in a perpetual twilight, with each and every tree barren. Then the horseman's many appearances just enhance the drama and suspense.
The minimalistic techniques in some places is simply astounding. Watch out for the the scene, whereinthe horseman meets his end. It throws a surprise in the manner least expected.
In the midst of all the thrills, the movie keeps you suitably entertained with its somewhat caustic depiction of Constable Crane and his fetishes. The inimitable twitch of his face, expressing his disgust, is ever so amusing.
The fact that the movie doesn't spend much time in characterization actually works in its favor. Constable Crane's character is sufficiently quaint to capture your attention for the duration of the movie. Katrina is made out to be a bit of an enigma and Christina Ricci does her job well.
Sleepy Hollow is a nice break from the Conan Doyle brand of mysteries.