|Category||Horror||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 2.35:1 (16x9 enhanced), Dolby Digital 2.0|
|Rating||Other Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - Dolby Digital Rain|
|Year Released||1999||Commentary Tracks||Yes, 1 - Tim Burton (Director)|
|Running Time||100:57 Minutes||Other Extras||Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette - Behind The Scenes (29:59)
Featurette - Reflections On Sleepy Hollow (11:24)
Cast & Crew Biographies
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Casper Van Dien
|Case||Disgusting Button Thing|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Dolby Digital||5.1|
||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
|Subtitles||English||Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Another credit to this film and its makers is the power of its characterizations. At first, I simply could not recognize the man playing Brom Van Brunt (Casper Van Dien), in spite of the fact that I had seen his face enough times in Starship Troopers to be able to recognize the actor out of costume at twenty paces. Another such character who comes across as a character rather than an actor playing a character would be Reverend Steenwyck (Jeffrey Jones), whom I would not have recognized if he had failed to remove his wig during the film. In fact, the only actor other than the two who are billed on the theatrical poster (which also serves as the front cover artwork) who is easily recognizable would be Christopher Walken, who plays the headless horseman before the decapitation, and after his skull is returned to him. Ray Park plays the horseman during most of the sword-swinging scenes, but his head is blue-screened out of the picture. Even the characters with minimal screentime and development, Brom among them, are so convincing that they quickly overshadow the somewhat hollow Shakespearean nature of the story. If there is a weak point in the film, it is only carried over from the story upon which Andrew Kevin Walker's screenplay is based: the overstructured nature of the dialogue. The setting and nature of this film only serves to once again highlight the absurdity of the praise lumped upon William Shakespeare and his work: human beings, under normal circumstances, simply do not speak like this. Still, the strengths of this film far outweigh its negatives.
A look at the film on the Internet Movie Database reveals that, like a lot of Tim Burton films, this movie divides opinion as thoroughly as the modern-day issue of whether we should clone new cells to turn dreaded illnesses of our modern era into relics of the past. The majority of the voters are in the same camp as myself, and praise the film for the quality of the set design, the acting, the characterizations, or all of the above and more. A small minority attack this film for its reported major deviance from the Washington Irving story, or describe this film as being nothing but gore from start to finish. The first of those two criticisms is perfectly valid, but I feel that if I wanted Washington Irving's story to be faithfully followed, I would have gone out and bought myself a copy of that story in printed form. Ian McDiarmid's performance during the autopsy scene makes a blatant joke out of the second criticism, with acting so convincing and strong that it reminded me of what the man has been doing in the sixteen years between this film and Return Of The Jedi (running a theatre company, for those who don't know). In a nutshell, if you want an intelligent film with well-developed characters and an almost flawless plot, then Sleepy Hollow is most certainly the one to look at. Quite why it only received one Academy Award for Art Direction when there are performances, special effects, and a script worthy of such recognition, in contrast to the films that actually won these awards, most notably The Matrix, is beyond me.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced. While I am on this subject, it has to be noted that the cover makes no mention of the aspect ratio except to state that the transfer is in widescreen with 16x9 enhancement. This is an omission common to the packaging which Roadshow Home Entertainment has afforded to its DVDs which simply must be rectified in the future.
The transfer is as sharp and clear as the film allows, with no lapses which cannot be blamed upon the original cinematography. The shadow detail is absolutely flawless, as is rightly demanded by a Gothic horror story that is mostly lit by lightning. No low-level noise was allowed to spoil the presentation.
The colour saturation in this transfer can be loosely described as dull. I say loosely because the transfer brings the colours to life, but the subjects of each shot have precious little colour in them to speak of, with most of the film taking place in very dull environments under very low lighting. It is amazing how much vibrancy there really is in the transfer, considering how little there is within the film itself. The scene in which Baltus Van Tassel is killed happens to be a perfect example of this, with the only bright colours in the entire scene being blood red and a purple chalk used by Katrina. In spite of the fact that the other colours in the scene are, for the most part, without life or vibrancy, these two colours are remarkably well saturated, as if fifty percent of the colour palette in those shots went into them.
MPEG artefacts were not found at any point in the transfer or the extras, with the right balance between content and transparent compression being struck quite well. If you want an example of how a film and its collection of extras look on a disc where both are presented correctly, Sleepy Hollow is certainly the disc to look at. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some mild aliasing in shots with chrome in them, but the total amount of aliasing in the film could be estimated at less than two minutes. If there is one thing that can be said for setting your film in an eighteenth century village, it's that you won't have any problems with the combination of chrome and interlaced video. The abundant greenery in this film is not a problem, either. Film artefacts were more or less non-existent, reflecting the youth of the film, and this is a very clean-looking transfer even by those standards.
This disc is presented in the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place a few seconds after the beginning of chapter 16, at 75:48. The layer change is not very well placed, as it occurs in the middle of a musical cue, and the pause is quite noticeable to say the least. This layer change is also the point where the transfer loses its overall reference status, as major distortion in the soundtrack can be heard from the beginning of the chapter to the layer change if the chapter is manually selected by the user (but not if the movie is played sequentially).
The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times, although some of the tenser moments involve a lot of shouted and screamed dialogue that loses a great deal of clarity. However, this isn't any fault of the transfer. Audio sync was not a noticeable problem at any point in the film.
The score music was contributed by Danny Elfman, a long-time collaborator of Tim Burton's, whose larger-than-life emotional style is a familiar and welcome carry-over from such Burton films as Batman and Mars Attacks!, although the familiarity occasionally works to the score's detriment. Much like the rest of the film, the score music has divided viewers into two distinct camps: those who enjoy the score in spite of its occasional intrusiveness, and those who utterly loathe it for that very reason. Although this score music reeks heavily of being recycled from Batman or other "serious" Burton films, and this occasionally works to its detriment, the score music is still overall a very good effort. Another minor problem is that the same humorous style that powers the more emotional and light-hearted parts of the film often makes the more serious, powerful moments of the film harder to identify due to the musical similarities from one moment to another. All in all, however, this is definitely one of Elfman and Burton's best works in terms of the marriage between onscreen action and musical emotion, with the appropriate musical tension surfacing in the three-way duel between Johnny Depp, Casper Van Dien, and Ray Park.
The surround channels are very powerfully used throughout the film in an optimal fashion, with even the quietest moments in the soundtrack being supported well by the surround channels. One sequence that gave my surround speakers a great deal to do was the initial meeting between Crane and the Van Tassels, in which the sounds of men stepping in a circle on a hardwood floor can be heard wandering around the speakers in a subtle fashion. The music is almost always supported by the surround channels, and the ambient sounds constantly provide an immersive experience that made the overall sonic experience of this DVD better than I imagine the theatrical experience could possibly offer. Similarly, the subwoofer was constantly present in order to provide a bottom end on every element of the film's surround picture without making itself conspicuous.
The video quality is superb, easily earning reference status.
The audio quality is excellent, but suffers from a minor fault.
The extras are the best I have ever seen from Village Roadshow.
|DVD||Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite input; Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer|