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Critical Analysis: Sleepy Hollow

             In a genre that is comprised of very different types of films, Horror seems to please the average movie-goer with its ability to both make you laugh and make you scream. Whether it's watching a good B-horror film like The Evil Dead, or watching a Hollywood bone-chiller like The Haunting, Horror doesn't seem to be losing its popularity in today's culture. People love ghost stories, and probably always will. It seems that anyone may have soft spot for any film that reminds the viewer of those windy fall evenings with the tumbling leaves and wind running through the skeletal looking trees. .
             Director Tim Burton, more than any Hollywood director, understands this atmosphere well. From such classics as Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Frankenweenie, Burton knows how to use classic gothic imagery to get his viewer's to "feel" the atmosphere. His best effort seems to be his recent retelling of the famous Washington Irving story, Sleepy Hollow. .
             Irving's version tells the story of a timid and eccentric schoolteacher who comes to face to face with a Headless Horseman on Halloween night. Burton's version on the other-hand greatly elaborates on this ghostly tale. The school teacher is now a New York constable who is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate strange murders, which have apparently been committed by the Headless Horseman who has been slicing off heads of unsuspecting town folk.
             While Burton's grisly 1999 film version has little in common with Irving's 1820 story, the film's theme still speaks about the struggle in our world between rationality and spiritual explanation. Roger Ebert explains in his 1999 review of the film:.
             "The decapitations may provide the stuff of nightmares, but on a deeper level they also provide a fitting image of humanity's freedom from the shackles of rational thought. Increasingly, our culture expresses its disillusionment with the promises of the Enlightenment, and seeks truth through its heart rather than its head.

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