That is the piece for which Washington Irving is best-known. He was the first American fiction writer to achieve international renown. And that's cool, 'cause he was named after George Washington. 'Merica.
Do you know the tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman? Here's the skinny of it: in rural New York, in the 1600s, a gangly schoolteacher named Ichabod Crane is trying to win the heart of the small-town belle, Katrina Van Tassel. But another dude has his sights set on Katrina; his name is Brom Bones, and he's basically Gaston. Brom knows that Ichabod is profoundly superstitious, and believes in the local legend of the Headless Horseman. (The Headless Horseman is supposedly a Hessian who had his head blown off by a cannonball during the Revolution. His ghost haunts the town.) One night when Ichabod is walking home, the Headless Horseman runs him down and scares him away. Ichabod leaves Sleepy Hollow, never to return. It is strongly hinted that Brom Bones dressed as the Horseman in order to remove the competition for Katrina. Then he married Katrina. The bad guy wins in this classic tale.
In the hundreds of years since its publications, many a movie and TV program have brought the tale to life. For our purposes today, I'm highlighting three particular adaptations of SLEEPY HOLLOW, to illustrate a certain point. First is Disney's animated adaptation, which you can watch in its entirety here.
|Courtesy of IMDB|
It's only 32 minutes long, which is about as long as it might take you to read Irving's original piece. The depiction of Ichabod is spot-on, following Irving's exact description of him in print. And the story ends the same way, which is really rare for an animated Disney piece. A lot of people don't like the ending, but that's how it was written.
Then, fourteen years ago, Tim Burton adapted the legend for the big screen. Naturally this mean that Johnny Depp played Ichabod Crane.
|Courtesy of IMDB|
This version drastically changed the story. Ichabod wasn't a goofy-looking schoolteacher with big ears and buckteeth; he was Johnny Freaking Depp, pre-Jack Sparrow, special investigator into the supernatural. He was called to rid Sleepy Hollow of its pesky spectral horseman. (Fun fact: the guy who played Darth Maul also played the Horseman in this flick.) Ichabod finds a local witch woman who was controlling the Horseman's ghost, and solves the case. He also beds Katrina Van Tassel partway through.
I have never personally seen this movie, so I can't pass too severe a judgment on it one way or another. It's just a massive deviation from the story Irving wrote. But hey, it's Hollywood. It happens.
And now for the most recent (and therefore relevant) adaptation: it looks like FOX has picked up a TV show called SLEEPY HOLLOW, that deviates even more than Burton's version. However, for what it is, I can see why. And I'm not overly upset about it, it's just an observation. (See trailer below.)
In this version, Ichabod Crane is once again a muscular, athletic, sexy dude, who also happens to be a warrior. And a spy. And he worked for George Washington. And he travels through time, to our day, to keep fighting the headless Hessian, who I guess is also one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.
And if you look real close, while the Hessian's head is still attached, he's totally wearing a Bane mask. If that's historically accurate, it makes even more sense that America won the Revolution. As a nation, we are Batman.
I'm going to give this show a try. Even though it seems more of a tributary adaptation than a faithful one, it looks like it has promise. Worst case scenario, the show is awesome and Fox cancels it after five episodes, so I won't have to watch it stagnate after twelve seasons, whereupon Ichabod Crane becomes a cyborg and goes into space to fight the Headless Horseman, who can't die because he doesn't have to breathe.
I don't know. If you watch it, let me know what you think.
Or don't. It won't bother me.
Get back to work.