#36 Edward Scissorhands

(1990, Tim Burton)

“Hell of a handshake you got there!”

Once upon a time, in a far off land of Suburbia, there was a mysterious castle on top of a hill. No one knew who lived inside this castle, until one day an Avon lady named Peg (Dianne Wiest) ventured in, where she met its sole resident: a man with terrifying looking scissors for hands (Johnny Depp). She found out his name was Edward, and saw that he was a gentle soul. She took him back to her home to introduce him to the world. As it turned out, this man was artificial, invented by the man who previously inhabited the castle (Vincent Price, in his final film appearance), who died prior to completing him, leaving him with his strange disfigurement.

The world was largely accepting of him, especially when he demonstrated his talents at hedge trimming and hair cutting. As he integrated himself into society, he also began to fall in love with Peg’s daughter Kim (Winona Ryder). However, not everyone liked him, including Kim’s abusive boyfriend (Anthony Michael Hall), and this led him into some serious trouble. This is the tale of Edward Scissorhands.

The story was devised by Tim Burton, based on his own memories of ridicule and isolation as a child, and as a result, the tale is definitely Burton’s personal masterpiece. His unique visual style is very much at work here, particularly in the designs for both Edward and his castle. Vincent Price’s appearance is very much Burton at work too, due to the director’s great love of the actor and the influence he had. Also, Johnny Depp’s in it and the music’s done by Danny Elfman. Of course.

Plot-wise, this is very much a fairy tale, but with a slight modern twist through setting much of it in the suburbs. Of course, this means there are elements of it that are a little lacking, such as any real explanation as to what exactly Edward is. Is he a robot? His bleeding would suggest otherwise, and yet it’s shown that he seems to have been developed from a factory machine. But still, it’s a fantasy tale, so maybe asking too many questions on these things is taking criticism too far. The plot isn’t ground-breaking in any way, though, as imaginative as Edward as a character is. It’s similar to that of Frankenstein in many ways, and this is kind of the movie’s weakness.

Where the film really excels is in the bizarre otherworldly representation of suburbia. Clearly drawn from Burton’s own experience at living in the suburbs, the houses are uniform and painted in a series of odd pastel colours, and everyone is overly interested in everybody else’s business. It’s an obvious caricature, but it works rather well. The news of Edward’s appearance gets around within seconds, and the way all the men in the neighbourhood uniformly file off to work in their identical cars, among other things, define the weird nature of suburbia in a strange, childlike way, making this a very real and modern setting to fit in nicely with the fairy tale inherent in Edward’s story.

Overall, Edward Scissorhands is a visual treat and a sweet little fairy tale, if nothing earth-shattering. Definitely some good family viewing to be had here.

Starring Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Alan Arkin, Anthony Michael Hall & Vincent Price
Written by Tim Burton and Caroline Thompson
Produced by Tim Burton & Denise Di Novi
Music score by Danny Elfman
Cinematography by Stefan Czapsky
Edited by Colleen & Richard Halsey

Favourite Scene: Bill has a chat to Edward about teenage girls in his basement bar while drinking whiskey. Even if I did keep expecting him to tell Edward to “fuck a lot o’ women!” after Little Miss Sunshine
Scene That Bugged Me: Edward kills Kim’s boyfriend, in a way that seems entirely at odds with his gentle nature. I’d have bought it more if Kim had used Edward to kill instead, perhaps.

Watch it if: You want a good modern fairy tale
Avoid it if: You don’t want to see Vincent Price die

Originally posted on Blogspot Friday 6 January 2012

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Posted on April 11, 2012, in 1990s, Fantasy, Romance and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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