Tom Stoppard: The Unsung Hero of Sleepy Hollow

Tom Stoppard: The Unsung Hero of Sleepy Hollow

We all know that Sleepy Hollow was inspired by the short story by Washington Irving, that Kevin Yagher came up with the idea for the movie, and that Andrew Kevin Walker wrote the screenplay. But there is another writer who richly deserves credit for his rewrite: Tom Stoppard.

Andrew Kevin Walker is known for his previous works Se7en and 8MM. I am aware that these works have their adherents, but I cannot say that I am among them. So I wondered how their author could have written a movie I loved as profoundly as I do Sleepy Hollow. The answer was that he had a little help. Actually, a lot of help.

If you are so inclined, you can read the pre-Stoppard screenplay here, but I can't say I recommend it. While essentially the same things happen in almost every scene, their spirit is quite different. None of the characters are really sympathetic, everything is rather sordid, and just as with Walker's other movies, there doesn't appear to be any particular point to any of it. There is none of the stylization, romanticism or power of the final movie. Perhaps worst of all, Ichabod Crane has none of his endearing quirks of faintheartedness or squeamishness and secret romanticism; all he does is go around being skeptical, and rather obnoxious with it, I might add.

Sleepy Hollow has become my favorite movie and means a great deal to me. Had Tom Stoppard not made his uncredited contribution, it would not be the movie it is. This is my thanks to him. He has my eternal gratitude.


Tom Stoppard Links


Sleepy Hollow