SLEEPY HOLLOW, the third collaboration between Johnny Depp and visionary director Tim Burton, gave the duo their first bona fide blockbuster: the 1999 release earned more than $100 million in the U.S. alone. Set in 1799, Burton's version of Washington Irving's classic horror tale presents Ichabod Crane as an idealistic New York City police constable who antagonizes his superiors with his insistence that crime-solving "must use
up-to-date, scientific techniques." The Burgomaster (Christopher Lee) retaliates by sending the brilliant but easily frightened Ichabod to test his newfangled ideas through the investigation of a series of bizarre decapitations in the remote hamlet of Sleepy Hollow. The man of science soon finds his belief in a rational, well-ordered universe challenged by an opposing realm of passion, intuition, and magic--and by his host's beautiful daughter, Katrina Van Tassel (Christina Ricci).
Deliberately playing against the type of the fearless detective, Johnny Depp balances Ichabod's fierce intelligence and brooding beauty with a cluster of unflattering character traits: timidity, social awkwardness, squeamishness, and a most unheroic tendency to faint in moments of crisis. Jumping on a chair to avoid a spider, or swooning at the sight of a decapitated head, Ichabod does seem at times more schoolgirl than sleuth. Still, Johnny never lets the constable dwindle into a cartoon. A knight in skittish armor, Ichabod Crane tries to restore justice to an unjust world, and his inherent goodness shines like a beacon through the gloom of Sleepy Hollow.