living in

Living In: Sleepy Hollow

by Maxwell Tielman


Okay—I’ve got a major bomb to drop. I’m not really all that into Tim Burton movies. I Know— something is clearly wrong with me. What kind of red-blooded American am I? What sort of human being can deny the sheer brilliance and artistic genius of Mr. Tim Burton? Me, apparently. I can absolutely see why everybody is so head-over-heels for his films and I do respect him greatly as an artistic talent. But, truth be told, the majority of his films just don’t do it for me… with one exception.

When I rented Tim Burton’s 1999 Sleepy Hollow years ago, I went in with the reservations and skepticism I often have when watching one of his movies. I was more than pleasantly surprised. The inspiration, Washington Irving’s classic tale of a school teacher and a headless horseman, seems perfectly suited to Burton’s dark, twisted, over-the-top aesthetic. Although Burton takes massive artistic liberties with Irving’s original story, the film perfectly and expertly captures not just the foreboding tone of its source material, but the more haunting and romantic aspects of the autumn season. Throughout the film, one is treated to stunning views of a fog-blanketed Hudson Valley, dark forests with mangled trees, and scarecrow-laden autumnal fields—all seen through Tim Burton’s slightly off-kilter lens. The movie makes for excellent fall movie nights and watching it has become a bit of an annual pre-Halloween ritual for me. It never fails to get me in the autumn mood! —Max


1. Riding Boots | 2. Gold Iron Lantern | 3. Flip-up Sunglasses | 4. Pewter Bird Feet | 5. Best-Made Axe | 6. Antique Doctor’s Bag | 7. Antique Apothecary Jars | 8. Thaumatrope Bird/Cage Illusion Necklace | 9. Antique Windsor Chair | 10. Leather-bound Journal

livingin_sleepyhollow_2 livingin_sleepyhollow_3 sleepyhollow_products_2

1. Alexander McQueen Blazer | 2. Taxidermy Fruit Bat | 3. Glass Test Tubes | 4. Gold Skull | 5. Vintage Pewter Tankard | 6. Grey Taper Candles | 7. Delft Blue Teacup | 8. Chandelier | 9. Enamel Wash Basin | 10. Sealing Wax Kit

livingin_sleepyhollow_4 livingin_sleepyhollow_5

Film: Sleepy Hollow

Year: 1999

Director: Tim Burton

Starring: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Richard Griffiths, Christopher Walken

Production Design: Rick Heinrichs

Art Direction: Ken Court, John Dexter, Andy Nicholson, Kevin Phipps, Leslie Tomkins

Set Decoration:  Peter Young

Costume Design: Colleen Atwood

Suggested For You


  • Oh. my. GOSH!

    No, I’m not “OMG”-ing the fact that you’re not an overall Burton fan. (Of which, I am, by the way.) I’m so excited that you/D*S finally featured this film on your “Living In” series! Seriously, I think my heart just jumped!

    Max – I think you, probably, love the style and tone of “Sleepy Hollow” for many of the reasons in which you and your fiancé‎ gravitated to Kingston. I see a lot of similarities between SH and Kingston. (Ok, maybe “Kingston – On A Really Cloudy Day”.)

    Anyways, thanks for posting this. And, if you do enjoy SH, you should check out “Big Fish”. It has beautiful visuals; and a wonderful storyline/script.

  • One of the best fall movies ever! I was in 8th grade when this movie came out and I may or may not have had a huge crush on the actor who played Young Masbath. Max, your “Living In” posts keep getting better and better.

  • I love the doctor’s bag… so creepy! And I do wish it was filmed in the Hudson Valley, my stomping grounds, but did you know it was really filmed in England? Bah! I like pretending though :)

  • I adore this movie, and yes, once our indian summer quits, I’ll be able to snuggle in my chair and watch it. The creepy ness, the atmosphere – it all gets me. But what really sets my heart aflame is once the curse is lifted, the sun comes out, the valley is beautiful, and Katrina and Ichabod are happy in love. Seriously, that 5 second shot of gorgeous fall leaves just does it for me.

  • I LIVE in Sleepy Hollow for REALS! Great post. The spooks are in Sleepy Hollow and the antiques are in Tarrytown just next door. Everyone should watch the movie and then COME VISIT! It’s closer than you think.

  • I too, am not a Big Tim Burton fan, but this post makes me want to check it
    (Sleepy Hollow) out ASAP! The Items you have chosen intrigue and after reading the other posts, I am thinking it will be a great movie for this time of year! “Living In” had always been my favorite feature! Thanks! PS I did Like Big Fish too.

  • Yes. I owned this movie on VHS and would watch and rewind for as long as my parents would allow. So. Good! Thank you for this amazing post :)

  • I’ve been a Burton fan since “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure”, and I love that each movie is different, yet all have his signature stamp. This flick is gorgeous to watch this time of year, and has it all… Depp, Walken, Richardson, and a lot of Burton’s regulars. I’ve always coveted Christina Ricci’s striped gown. And yes, young Masbeth was a cutie!

  • This reminds me of my time on-staff on the set of the PBS series “Wishbone.” We did a special version of “Sleepy Hollow” for Halloween. Not quite as spooky as Burton’s take (it was for kids, after all), but lots of fun to film. If you’ve never seen a dog bobbing for apples, it’s hilarious.

  • I just chanced on this website by accident and I am so happy to see this film featured here. I did work experience on the movie and it was utterly magical and something I will never forget. Just beautiful.

  • I check this page out every so often. I was so enchanted by the movie I’ve been checking zillow for Hudson Valley area properties. Just a gorgeous part of our beautiful country! The scene at the end, when the wicked witch is dead, and they are heading for NYC – the leaves are aflame, the sun is out, but there is still that gorgeous grey/brown in the underbrush that makes the yellow leaves shine all the brighter. The art production and filming of this movie is just out of this world. You did know that Francis Ford Coppola was the Exec Producer, right?

  • Late to the post.

    North Tarrytown was re-named “Sleepy Hollow” sometime in the late 90’s. It did wonders for the real estate and the town’s popularity and tourism. Located close to the City makes it even more desirable. Personally, I would LOVE to have Sleepy Hollow on my mailing address :)

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.