The Legend of Ichabod Crane

Late last week, Dan and I were working on our Halloween costumes, and while we did that, we watched The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad. Because It’s Halloween-ish. I hadn’t seen the two films in literally years, and in looking at them with a fresh eye, I noticed something that shocked me: Ichabod is Belle, and his short is basically Beauty and the Beast. The proof:

Ichabod is Belle.

When the new school teacher comes to town, he walks through the city center, reading as he walks, but still managing to avoid walking into things and saying hello to his new neighbors. Meanwhile, all around him, the townspeople sing about what a peculiar but nice guy he is. Sound familiar? It is, in fact, the opening scene of Beauty and the Beast exactly … except his kindness and intelligence are prized over Belle’s beauty. (Insert feminist rant here.)

 

Brom is Gaston.

The dark hair. Strong chin. Insane muscles. Why, he looks like he might eat five dozen eggs every morning! Not only that, but with his quick temper and penchant toward frustrated violence … Slap a red shirt and some yellow gloves on him, and you’ve basically got Gaston, the stuck-up frat-douche who can’t understand why the girl isn’t his and will do anything to get her.

 

Ichabod has Bimbettes.

While they’re not as buxom or … um … visually uniform as Gaston’s admirers, Ichabod does have three lovely ladies who hang on his every word and are thrilled each time they see him about town.

 

These guys.

In Sleepy Hollow, this scary dude is hanging out in the tavern, listening to Brom’s ghost story with a curious amount of intensity. In Belle’s France, he runs the village insane asylum, where Gaston plans to toss Maurice. In any story, they scare me.

That’s not to mention that there are serious similarities between two key scenes. First: the scenes where Maurice (and later Belle) rides Philippe in the woods and the scene where Ichabod is accosted by the Headless Horseman have similar look and feeling. And: the scene where Brom and Ichabod dance with their love interest in the tavern is very similar to the scene in Gaston’s tavern (although the tavern in Sleepy Hollow doesn’t have nearly as many antlers).

Another unrelated but totally weirdo fact: Katrina, the woman Ichabod and Brom are fighting over, is basically a carbon copy of Cinderella (whose feature animated film came out a year later).

katrina and cinder

Weird, right?

I know we’ve seen plenty of examples of Disney using recycled animation in films from Dumbo to The Princess and the Frog. And, in fact, Disney reused scenes from Ichabod in The Sword in the Stone and Sleeping Beauty. But I was still so surprised to see so many similarities.

What do you guys think? Do you see it? And what are your favorite Disney self-references?

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