Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Sandman, The (1992)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

A young boy plays a toy drum while his mother does needlework by the fireplace in the living room. When the clock strikes eight, the mother takes the drum, gives the boy a gas lamp and sends him out into the dark corridor. He makes his way wearily up the long flight of stairs to his bedroom, anxious at the strange noises and shadows around him. Finally, he scurries into his room and straight into bed. While he tosses and turns in his sleep, the window suddenly bursts open; in shock, the boy jumps to his feet on the bed. Through the window, he briefly sees on the crescent moon a long beak-like nose. Something moves under his bed; he cautiously takes a look, only to find - to his relief - a little mouse.

A tall birdlike figure with a crescent-shaped face, skinny legs and hands with long fingernails enters the house like a ghost. It is the sandman. He slams the door to frighten both mother and child, then tiptoes up the stairs carefully to the boy's room. The shadow of the sandman's hand hovers over the bed sheets, under which the little boy cowers. But the hand that pulls back the sheets, actually belongs to his mother, come to comfort the boy back to sleep. As soon as she leaves the room, however, the sandman reappears, prancing and leaping around the boy's bed, ready to cast sand in his eyes as soon as he opens them in horror. In silhouette, the Sandman strikes at the child's head and puts something into a small pouch. He flies out of the window towards the moon, into the blue lunar landscape to a nest where three baby-bird-like creatures are waiting impatiently to be fed. He pulls two eyes out of the pouch and feeds them to the babies.

The boy's face is now a white mask with black holes instead of eyes. The blinded child stumbles about, trying to feel his way in the dark. When the lights go on, he is surrounded by identical children staring blindly.