"The Sandman" is a stark visual exploration of an uncanny world. Based on the classic 19th century tale by German writer/composer E.T.A. Hoffmann, the film investigates the tale's themes of obsession and madness, emphasizing expressionist imagery and theatrical style. The story relates the life of the young student Nathanael, whose childhood memories are haunted by a sinister old man. As a child, Nathanael believed this dark figure to be the mythic Sandman, who puts children to sleep by stealing their eyes. When confronted by this same evil presence as an adult, he is pushed toward madness as he tries to confront his childhood fears. Meanwhile, Nathanael finds distraction in a beautiful and glassy-eyed woman named Olympia who he spies on from his window. After dancing with her at a wild party he begins courting her, but his happiness is ill-fated. Nathanael discovers that Olympia is an automaton - a machine made of wood and clockwork - with her glassy eyes created by the terrible ...