Tag Archives: Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Post by Mark T. Locker.
As a lover of the season of Halloween, our family is always on the hunt for fun, spooky movies. The problem is they have to be bearable for an easily frightened (but VERY arbitrarily frightened) seven-year-old. So we decided to dust off our copy of the 1949 Disney classic interpretation of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. Inexplicably, Disney packaged it with “The Adventures of Mr. Toad” which is based on The Wind in the Willows which is rather un-spooky.
So the first forty minutes of this movie I was begging my kid to let me skip ahead. But he wouldn’t relent. It wasn’t awful; it just wasn’t what I had come here to watch. My kid loved it. Mr. Toad gets himself into some trouble and his sprawling estate is given over to the criminal weasel gang and Mr. Toad is imprisoned. Conspiracies are uncovered and Toad and his friends fight to right the wrongs done to him. Somehow all of this must relate to the ride at Disneyland, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. What that relationship is, I do not know.
Then, quite suddenly, we are transported from 1908 England to upstate New York in 1790. We all know Ichabod Crane: the gangly, food-obsessed new schoolteacher in Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod is in love with the lovely Katrina. So is Brom. After many thwarted attempts to garner her attention away from Ichabod, Brom hatches a plan. Knowing that Ichabod is a highly superstitious man, he tells a terrifying story about the legend of the Headless Horseman who roams the land searching for his head. Ichabod is frightened and on his way home sees shapes and hears eerie sounds in everything. Suddenly, a figure on a horse rears up before him! It’s the Headless Horseman! A frightening chase ensues. The next day, all they find is a smashed pumpkin and Ichabod’s hat. He is never seen in Sleepy Hollow again.
Pretty darned harmless cartoon, only about 2o minutes long, this Halloween classic is sure to provide chills to kids without much worry for nightmares. They can watch it while the grown-ups finish the half-gutted pumpkins!
Post by Josh Zinn.
The street signs of Sleepy Hollow have headless horsemen on them. So do the police cars, garbage trucks, and natural gas meters. In fact, I’m sure a myriad of public utilities take part in celebrating and cashing in on the famed decapitated equestrian whose midnight rides of terror helped transform their humble hamlet into the Halloween haunt of the Hudson hinterlands. Perhaps Washington Irving hadn’t imagined his creepy creation would one day come to signify the call to arms for the men and women working for Sleepy Hollow’s sewage system, but crappier things have happened in the name of public works—just ask the folks who named Flushings.
If one were to ask the Headless Horseman himself—hey, he might know sign language…even though he doesn’t have eyes—what moments in his fictional life truly felt like a misappropriation, however, he’d probably tell you about the time I purchased a key-lime flavored latte (complete with crunchy graham topping!) from a Sleepy Hollow coffee shop. Or the Mexican restaurant named after him that served my friend and I a salad consisting of a HEAD of lettuce alongside a terrine of “bloodied” French dressing. Oh yes, and then there was the time Bing Crosby came to town…
Disney’s animated version of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” starring Crosby as beleaguered schoolteacher Ichabod Crane, is a milder take on Irving’s allegory of foreign-bred superstition and tradition mingling with the bravado, boldness, and greed of the then-new America. By milder, I mean that Ichabod spends much of the cartoon either singing sweet dulcimer notes to the local housewives in an attempt to lure them of their chicken dinners or by balladeering Katrina, the beautiful daughter of the wealthiest man in town, in order to fill his pocketbook. Horror only exists on the outskirts of this Sleepy Hollow, with creepiness taking a backseat to Crosby’s crooning.
“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” isn’t a bad film by any means, but in shifting its focus away from the terror of Tarrytown and onto the soothing vocal abilities present in Crosby’s portrayal of Crane, Irving’s supernatural story mutates into a pageantry of phthongal pedagoguery better fit for a USO function. Truth be told, there’s little fright to be found in a film where, for the majority of its length, fanatical females fight for the chance to feed a fair-weather philanderer with the voice of a lounge singer. Sure, the Horseman finally rears his hea… neck near the cartoon’s finale, but until then any pervasive sense of dread has been replaced by questions of whether white Christmases happen even for the headless.
Perhaps, then, the Horseman-emblazoned signs, logos, and salads of today’s Sleepy Hollow are a reclamation of the sinister story that put their town on the map. While there’s nothing wrong with a little Bing to lift one’s spirits, it’s best to remember the spirit at the heart of Irving’s story struck a far more horrific note.