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New article in Splice (Auteur Publishing) the Tim Burton issue – Sleepy Hollow a must see and a must read – Puritans, Witches and Hessian! 

If There’s Only One Film …. Make It Sleepy Hollow



The Story: History and the Horseman

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the general myth of a headless horseman, that is so much a part of the legend of Sleepy Hollow, a real town1 in New York state, has been adopted by American cultural history and associated very strongly with the history of itself as the emerging independent US of A. The origins of Sleepy Hollow’s Headless Horseman may date back much further than the story told by Washington Irving, but  since then, he has become an integral part of American mythology, a true monster of their own. Washington Irving’s initial short story, has engendered a true modern myth, with films based on the story and the place dating back to 18962. Thus, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Tim Burton’s interpretation of that story have done much to put the Headless Horseman on the American mainland’s map.

However, no self respecting myth is confined by the boundaries of nationality and the Headless Horseman has himself a history in European culture, Dutch culture, in fact, which is why  Washington Irving to set his classic in the Dutch community of Sleepy Hollow some few miles north of the city of New York.

Read more in Splice

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Born Free (dir. James Hill, 1966) was the first adaptation I ever saw. It was 1966 or 67 and I was eightish, just back from Tanzania. My Nana took me to see it and I got very involved at the end.  The images of the lioness battling it out for her wild identity were captivating. The film embodied both my memories and my idyllic view of the continent I had just left. However, I also remember the vague sense of disappointment I had when, a few years later, I first read the books Joy Adamson had written (Born Free, Living Free, Forever Free.  Elsa herself, of course, was not a disappointment, spread out on the camp bed with her paws in the air, but Joy was not the sylph like blonde that Virginia McKenna had represented. She was a buxom, curly headed woman, older looking than her Hollywood counterpart. Even now, I feel slightly offended when pictures of her as the real Joy are presented. I still want her to be Virginia McKenna. Bill Travers bore more of a resemblance to George, only bigger, and at least they filmed on location, that I could tell, having been there, so recently. Even at that age I lost patience with the Mojave Desert or the Hollywood lot pretending to be African. The books were a little turgid for a pre-teen, but I persevered and Joy Adamson had written an account that largely reflected the content of the film and the movie captured, if not the spirit of the age, then the spirit of the audience. (Continued in Splice)

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