Comparison Essay Example: Sleepy Hollow and Tim Burton Film

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The story, Sleepy Hollow and Tim Burton film both shows some similarities and differences in different aspects. Comparison between the two can be drawn from the characters used, themes and different symbols applied. In this paper, the main intention is to draw out similarities and differences between these two works where some of the main topics and characters will be reviewed. The different manner in which symbols such as the pumpkin are used in the two will be studied in an attempt to identify where the two agree on and differ. It will be seen in this essay that there is a lot of similarity between the two in the setting. The same storyline is used only that a few changes are applied between the film and the story.

The story, Sleepy Hollow is referred to as a legend where it talks about a character named Ichabod Crane. He is the main focus of the story where he pretends to fall in love with a female character, Katrina (Hoffman, 1953, pp 429-430). However, his primary intention is to take the possession that belonged to Katrina. Another character that is involved in this story is Brom Van Brunt, who was also interested in Katrina (Irving, 2008). He was considered to be a hero in Sleepy Hollow due to his ability to ride horses. Men who were interested in marrying Katrina due to her beauty and wealth had been scared off by Brom apart from Ichabod who was new to the village of Sleepy Hollow. In the end, Ichabod disappears after being chased by the Headless Horseman (Irving, 2008).

Tim Burton film shares a similar storyline with the story Sleepy Hollow apart from a few things such as the characters used. Tim Burtons film takes most of the ideas from the story of Sleepy Hollow by Irving and changes only a few things such as the scene and the attributes of the main character (Hollow, 1999). This film is seen as a modification of the original story where the characters are made real, and some few different themes are introduced. The year in which the story of Sleepy Hollow was set is modified in the film, and the motion pictures enable the audience to get a clear overview of the real happenings in the film. Discussed below are the comparisons between the story of Sleepy Hollow and Tim Burton film;

The setting is one of the ways in which the two are similar to one another. Both adopt the same plot where a character suffers at the end, portraying an element of tragedy. The plot of both the film and the story are meant to include some extent of fear among the audience though Tim Burton does better work in creating a better horror film. Compared to the story, the film is considered to be scarier, meaning that the author of the story failed to include an aspect of fear to the audience (Hollow, 1999). Therefore, Irving doesnt come up with the ghost story that he intended to produce at the end and instead, Tim Burton served this purpose by coming up with the film. The film, therefore, is sometimes considered as a compliment to the original story of Sleepy Hollow.

The difference is noted in the film and the story in the manner in which the two are introduced. Both use different styles of introduction, and this has a different effect on the audience. In the original story, Washington Irving is best known for his use of attractive language (Irving, 2008). He uses this language to produce a beautiful story of a skinny man named Ichabod. He adopts this language to describe everything that is included in the story including things like the food (Hoffman, 1953, pp 425-427). At the beginning of the story, the audience is introduced into a peaceful environment, and at this point, no one can develop the notion that something will terribly go wrong. Burton film, on the other hand, is different from the story at the beginning. This is because Tim Burton begins the film in a creepy manner, developing fear into the audience immediately at the start (Hollow, 1999). This is seen as a way of informing the audience that the film is going to be a horror and therefore, they prepare their mind for something scary. By starting with a horror movie, it then progresses onwards picking up the plot of the original story by Washington Irving.

The other comparison can be drawn from the manner in which Irving and Burton make use of different colors. The reason why Irvings story is not considered as a scary story is that there are many uses of attractive colors which have an effect on developing a beautiful scene in the mind of the audience (Irving, 2008). The description of the color that Washington presents removes the element of fear from the audience (Hoffman, 1953, pp 434-435). Tim Burton, on the other hand, fills his work with dark colors which he uses to describe the clothing of the characters. The dark color is also used to provide a description of the trees, and this makes the film more frightening among different audiences. Apart from the dark color, Tim Burton also makes extensive use blood throughout the movie to ensure that it serves the right purpose of the original story (Irving, 1991). The manner in which Washington Irving and Tim Burton makes use of different colors to provide a description of the environment around them shows that both had a different idea of producing a terrifying environment.

Characterization of Ichabod Crane is also shown differently in both the story and the film. Ichabod is the main character in both the film and the story, but he is characterized differently by Irving and Burton. In the story, Washington Irving is more interested in describing the appetite of Ichabod where he states that he is a character who mostly used to think with his stomach rather than his brain (Irving, 2008). His love for food is stressed by the author of the story, and this portrays a character who was weak in making wise and logical decisions (Irving, 1991). Irving also states that Ichabod was an arrogant school teacher who ended up believing the weird stories that he used to hear from the inhabitants of Sleepy Hollow of a Headless Horseman (Irving, 2008). Tim Burton, on the other hand, portrays Ichabod as a scientist who used to have his own beliefs (Hollow, 1999). According to him, the favor was something that should never exist, and he did not believe in it. He was therefore in no position to do anyone a favor including those who were close to him. Burton also states that Ichabod did not believe in spirits at first though, in the end, he believes the tale of the Headless Horseman (Hollow, 1999).

The ending of the story also seems to differ in that the Headless Horseman is explained differently in both the film and the story. Washington Irving states that Brom, another character who was an enemy of Ichabod performed the role of the Horseman, and at this particular moment, Ichabod believed in the tale of supernatural beings (Irving, 2012, pp 44-49). Irving tries to bring out the reality of the story to the audience by using Brom as the Horseman in an attempt to avoid causing confusion among the audience. In the film, witchcraft is the leading cause of the Headless Horseman, and no particular character such as Brom in the story is given this role. Tim Burton sees witchcraft as a perfect explanation of a supernatural being that could not be explained in the real world. Through the use of witchcraft, Burton can show that the main character was wrong to ignore supernatural powers that used to exist in the village of Sleepy Hollow.

In the story of Sleepy Hollow, Irving makes extensive use of Brom Bones. This is a character whose importance is seen through Katrina. He pursues her and scares off other suitors who were interested in this female character (Irving, 2008). Ichabod, the main character was one of those suitors and Irving uses Brom to come up with the murder plot. This is because Brom is considered as the main reason why Ichabod had to flee Sleepy Hollow and in the end, was chased by the Headless Horseman (Irving, 2012, pp 51-54). Irving tries to use Brom Bones as the Headless Horseman. This shows the importance of this particular character in the plot of the story. Tim Burton, on the other hand, doesnt make use of Brom Bones. In fact, he ultimately writes this character off and tries to make use of other things such as witchcraft (Hollow, 1999). To come up with the murder plot, Burton doesnt see the need to make use of this character and instead, tries to twist the attributes of the main character, Ichabod.

In general, it can be concluded that Tim Burton film was meant to create some sense of humor compared to the original story by Irving. Burton, however, did not include any humor in his work, and instead, he came up with something that was scary from the beginning. In his work, there is no use of pranks compared to the story, and this shows that the film was intended to be a complete horror, which was darker than Irvings story. However, similarities are seen in both the film and the story in that symbols such as the pumpkin serve the same purpose. The Headless Horseman was machinery in both the story and the film, and this shows that even though there are some differences in both, some similarities can still be drawn. The general conclusion, therefore, is that Tim Burtons film is creepier than the story Sleepy Hollow and this makes the film more appealing as a horror to the audience than the story.


Work Cited

Hoffman, Daniel G. Irvings Use of American Folklore in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow PMLA 68.3 (1953): 425-35. JSTOR. Web. 24 April. 2017.

Hollow, Sleepy. "Tim Burton." Paramount Pictures/Mandalay Pictures/American Zoetrope, Germany/United States 105 (1999).

Irving, Washington, and Jonathan Kruk. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Floating Press, 2008.

Irving, Washington. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 8th ed. Vol. B. New York: WW Norton, 2012. 41-62. Print.

Irving, Washington. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Macmillan, 1991.


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