The Sandman is a fictional character, a popular figure in Western folklore who brings good sleep and dreams by sprinkling magical sand onto the eyes of children.
Representation in traditional folklore
Traditionally he is a character in many children's stories, invoked to help (or lull) children to sleep. He is said to sprinkle sand or dust on or into the eyes of the child at night to bring on dreams and sleep. The grit or 'sleep' (rheum
) in one's eyes upon waking is supposed to be the result of the Sandman's work the previous evening.
Ole Lukøje, one of Hans Christian Andersen's more obscure folk tales, told of the different dreams the Sandman gave to a young boy in a week.
E.T.A. Hoffmann wrote an inverse depiction of the lovable character in a story called Der Sandmann, which showed how sinister such a character could be made. According to the protagonist's nurse, he threw sand in the eyes of children who wouldn't sleep, with the result of those eyes falling out and being collected by the Sandman, who then takes the eyes to his iron nest on the moon, and uses them to feed his children. The protagonist of the story grows to associate this nightmarish creature with the genuinely sinister figure of his father's associate Coppelius.
Depictions in modern fiction
- Various comic book characters have been named after the Sandman, with two from DC Comics, the various Sandman superheroes and Neil Gaiman's Dream of The Endless being based directly on the folklore, as well as an enemy of Spider-Man named Sandman who can generate sand from his body.
- The Sand Man appears briefly in Ruth Plumly Thompson's Kabumpo in Oz when a gigantic Ruggedo has carried off the Emerald City on his head. The Sand Man puts all of the city's inhabitants to sleep, including Ruggedo, save for those who don't sleep.
- The Sandman is briefly mentioned in Terry Pratchett's novel Soul Music, where we're told that, on the Discworld, he sends people to sleep with sand, without taking it out of his sack (i.e. knocking them unconscious with a sandbag).
- The character of 'Karla', the Russian master spy in John le Carré's Smiley's People is nicknamed the Sandman. As George Smiley explains "You know why they call Karla the Sandman, don't you? He has a way of putting to sleep [killing] whomever gets too close to him."
- Sandman appears in the Specter dark fantasy "The Myth Hunters" by Christopher Golden. He is a vicious character that kills children and steals their eyes.
- In Logan's Run, the police force dedicated to killing those who had reached 21 (30 in the film and TV adaptations) were called "Sandmen."
- In Dragon Rider, Sandmen are portrayed very differently. Here, they are portrayed as hybrids of a camel and its rider which are composed of sand.
- In a Calvin and Hobbes story where Calvin can't sleep, he says "'Somebody must have waylaid Mr. Sandman"'
Depictions in film and television
- "Eye of the Sandman" (2008) a feature film (HD 720p, 82 mins, 28 sec; color), based on "Der Sandmann" by E.T.A. Hoffman, directed by Dennis Belogorsky, M.T. Cozzola, and Jeff McHale; produced by Dave Evans & Split Pillow
- The Sandman (1991) short movie (35mm; 9 min, 17 sec; color; puppet animation); based on the Der Sandmann by E.T.A. Hoffman; directed by Paul Berry.
- A 2000 film of the same name by the Brothers Quay: The Sandman (2000 film).
- In the Kidsongs video, "Good Night, Sleep Tight", the Sandman named Sandy has an apprentice named Dusty, and unlike previous incarnations, Sandy and Dusty do not actually sprinkle sand or dust into the kids' eyes. Instead, as Sandy reveals, "The mommies and daddies actually put the kids to sleep. We just supervise the proceedings to make sure the night-nights go off without a hitch."
- In the television series Baby Looney Tunes Although the Sandman does not actually appear, Granny tells the kids about how the Sandman will put sand in your eyes if you don't go to sleep. Daffy stays up all night to make sure he doesn't get sand in his eyes. He ends up doing so and everyone becomes afraid of the Sandman. Granny reveales it was just a story and she made a mistake
- In the television show Sabrina the Teenage Witch , Sabrina gets a job as a sandman putting people to sleep in the mortal realm through an Other Realm job agency. She breaks the rules of her job, however, by interfering with her boyfriend Harvey's dreams, and also those of her headmaster, Mr. Kraft. Mr Kraft has nightmares about stacking peas and as revenge for giving Sabrina detention, she uses a pea-shooter to terrorise him.
- In the Nickelodeon cartoon The Fairly OddParents, the Sandman (voiced by Jackie Mason) is revealed to be a fairy who works as the Mattress King, a mattress salesman. All sleep-related wishes granted by fairy godparents had to be approved by the Sandman.
- The Nickelodeon show Are You Afraid of the Dark?, features the Sandman (played by Bobcat Goldthwait). This Sandman however was evil, he tried to hold a fairy tale obsessed girl captive in the Land of Nod, where fairy tales have an evil side.
- A depiction of the sandman appears in the WB television series Charmed, in the episode San Francisco Dreamin'. In the episode, the Sandman (played by Henry Gibson) is shown as a positive magical creature who allows beings to work out their subconscious problems through their dreams.
- The Powerpuff Girls once battled the Sandman after he decided to force the entire world to sleep, so he wouldn't have to keep putting them to sleep himself. This Sandman was presented as a small, fairy-like old man in comically exaggerated pajamas. This episode was unique among the series because the entire dialogue rhymed.
- Courage the Cowardly Dog encountered the Sandman, trying to make him give back Muriel's ability to sleep. He was depicted as a skinny man in a mask and purple pajama-like tights. He threw glowing blue sand into people's eyes, causing them to immediately fall asleep.
- In the 1980s cartoon The Real Ghostbusters a renegade sandman goes on a lunatic rampage intending to put Manhattan's people to sleep for 500 years in order to force peace on Earth. When confronted he turned all the living dreams into nightmare as a defensive strategy.
- In the animated series Martin Mystery, an episode featured the Sandman as a creature who trapped people in their nightmares.
- In the Big Wolf on Campus, the Sandman enslaves the students of Pleasantville High inside of their dreams and makes them dig for magic sand that can put someone into an eternal sleep. He is not only a Sandman in the sense that he has traditional Sandman powers but he is also a man made of sand.
- Sandmännchen is a German TV series about the Sandman. Before reunification in 1991 there were two versions - one West German and one East German. The East German version is the most well-known and popular, and it was also the only one to be continued after the German reunification. After the fall of communism, the GDR version of Sandmännchen has been seen as program which was used for propaganda purposes, depicting an idealised version of communist society and technological progress in the GDR and other communist countries. When the first GDR citizen (Sigmund Jähn) went to space in 1978 he brought a Sandman doll and held a televised speech to the children of the GDR. The USSR cosmonauts had brought a female doll named Mascha. This was depicted in the movie Good Bye Lenin!, where the main character is also a fan.
- A character known as "Stephen The Sandman" has appeared in The Life and Times of Juniper Lee.
- In the 2002 film The Santa Clause 2 and the third installment The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, the Sandman is portrayed as a member of the Council of Legendary Figures. He is portrayed in these films by Michael Dorn of Star Trek fame.
- In the Special Unit 2 episode "The Grain", the Sandman is depicted as a link, made out of sand, who enters a person's body while they are sleeping, possessing them and unleashing their Id.
- In the 2000-2002 series Dark Angel (starting in Season 2), a character known as Sandman (whose true last name was "Sandeman") was noted as being the father of all the transgenics.
- Jim Fullington, a wrestler formerly contracted to World Wrestling Entertainment and Extreme Championship Wrestling, wrestles under the ring name of 'The Sandman'. He is known for smashing a can of beer on his forehead prior to matches, sometimes cutting himself open and bleeding. Also, he has a tradition of using a Singapore Cane to hit his opponnets on the head during Hardcore matches.
- Nilus the Sandman is the main character of a same-named children's television show (1991-1997) and a Christmas movie, "Nilus the Sandman: The Boy Who Dreamed Christmas".
- Sabaku no Gaara is a psychopathic character from the anime Naruto, often given the theme song Mister Sandman.
Depictions in contemporary music
The sandman character has been portrayed in different guises in a number of songs:
- The Residents' 2007 album, The Voice of Midnight is an updated re-telling of E.T.A. Hoffmann's Der Sandmann.
- "Mr. Sandman" by the Chordettes
- "Enter Sandman" by Metallica — The Sandman is portrayed as an evil entity out to give children nightmares.
- "Blood Red Sandman" by Lordi — In this song the Sandman is impersonated and represented rather sinisterly.
- "In Dreams" by Roy Orbison — The sandman is mentioned in the opening line.
- "Mad Man Moon" by Genesis (album: A Trick of the Tail) — The sandman speaks in one passage of the song.
- "Mein Herz brennt" by Rammstein
- "Mr. Sandman" by The Chordettes
- "Mr. Sandman" by Blind Guardian (which conveys a very different tone)
- "Mrs. Sandman" by The Nits
- "Sandman" by George Winston
- "Overjoyed" by Stevie Wonder
- "Please Mr. Sandman" by Jimmy Donley
- "Sandman" by America (album: America)
- "Wonderful Baby" by Don McLean — This song refers positively to the Sandman in the chorus: "Sandman says maybe he'll take you above".
- "Song Of The Sandman" by Enya
- "Sleep Song" by Graham Nash
- "Tupelo" by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
- "Today's Lesson" by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds (album: Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!)
- "Monarch Of The Sleeping Marches" by Disincarnate
- ETA Hoffman's story was adapted into a chamber musical titled, "The Sandman", by Northwestern University performance studies major, Tyler Beattie.
- "Mr. Sandman" by Method Man
- "Rock And Roll Lullaby" by 10cc ("The Sandman's going to get you.")
- "Sandman"* A Song played by the Band, Beatallica, a band who combine The Beatles & Metallica music. the song is a combination of Taxman and Enter Sandman
- "Mister Sandman" by Emmylou Harris
- "The Late Late Show Theme Song" by Craig Ferguson, it mentions Sandman in the chorus: "And you got the sandman at your door".
- "The Sandman Enters" by The Sandman
- "Ballad Of A Dead Soulja" by 2pac,"Maybe I'm a madman. A pistol grabbin figga unleash the Sandman".
- In Cassidy's song "come on baby" he said "the heat put 'em to sleep, like sandman".
- In Fall Out Boy's song "Headfirst Slide into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet", the first verse is 'Mr. Sandman, showing is beams''.
- Tatar, Maria (2003). Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
- Hoffman, E.T.A. (1817). Die Nachtstücke.
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