“With its great performances, amazing score, and dream-like visuals I would say that it is one of Tim Burton’s best…”
Edward Scissorhands is the tragic story of an inventor’s great creation: a man with scissor hands. When this man, Edward, gets discovered by the local Avon representative she offers to bring him home with her instead of leaving him to live alone. The rest of the quiet town is up in arms at this decision, and everyone decides to make Edward’s life their business.
It had been years since I had seen Edward Scissorhands, and I had forgotten just how sad the movie is. Edward Scissorhands is essentially ‘people suck: the movie’, and for that reason it is very true to real life. See, Edward is discovered and then brought to live in a small town. This gesture in itself is very sweet, but what happens when everyone else in the town catches on to this plan is where we start to see the disgusting nature of humans. Every single person who meets Edward decides to use him for their own selfish needs. Be it trimming their hedges, grooming their dogs, or even making him their own personal hairdresser, every single person makes sure to find a use for Edward. Nobody really likes Edward, and eventually when Edward does something that frightens them they are very quick to turn on him. Edward is a man who has one fault: he is too trusting. Well, and he has scissors for hands but lets forget about that for a moment. Edward trusts all of these people because he was made to trust people. He was never taught that people suck, and therefore he never realized that he was being taken advantage of. You get to see Edward cautiously go along with everyone while they are all his “friends”, but then you get to see the confusion on his face when he does start to realize that true friends don’t act like these people. I always like to humour myself with questions pertaining to alien life, specifically what aliens would think of humans if they saw specific films or listened to specific songs. Let’s just say that if aliens watched Edward Scissorhands, I don’t think that they would be too keen on approaching earth with a smile on their face.
Despite the tragedy that Edward Scissorhands oozes, the film is also pretty funny. It is a classic ‘fish-out-of-water’ story, but this time it is cranked up a notch because Edward doesn’t have working hands. Watching Edward stumble around life in this “perfect” town is a wonderful example of slapstick comedy. Edward doesn’t speak much, but what he does says more than words ever could. Most of this is thanks to the amazing performance that Johnny Depp gives as Edward Scissorhands (by the way, that’s kind of a fucked up name for the guy isn’t it?). Johnny Depp absolutely nails the awkward uncertainty that Edward’s character is built around. He is very cautious in everything that he does, but then much like an animal you can see him slowly warm up to certain people. Of course this gets derailed when the movie takes a darker turn, but even then we get to see wonderful acting from Depp. Of course we also get to see great performance from others in the cast, specifically Winona Ryder who’s character is very conflicted throughout the film, and she does a good job showing that. Then you have all of the other characters who don’t play such a big role in the story, but their performances do a lot to add to the atmosphere of the film. You have Peg (the resident Avon representative), played by Dianne Wiest, and Bill played by Alan Arkin. Both actors did amazing jobs as their respective characters, Peg being the supportive and caring mother, and Bill being the “there, but not really” father. You also have all of the other women who played the group of Peg’s friends who each did a wonderful job of creating this feeling of control that they had over the town. Of course there are too many to name, but they all did great jobs.
Edward Scissorhands might be the most “Burton-esque” Tim Burton movie ever made, and I absolutely love it for that. What is very important in Edward Scissorhands is contrast. Not only does Edward’s character contrast all other characters, but the look of Edward contrasts everything else as well. The town in which Edward is taken is very brightly coloured, and pretty much perfect in appearance. Everyone wears nice clothes, kids play in the yard, and all of the houses are painted a different colour of the rainbow. But then there’s Edward, dressed in all black with a face as white as snow. Edward comes from the mansion that overlooks the town, on top of a hill. Much like Edward this place is very bleak in appearance, both inside and out. This creates a very striking connection in your brain that automatically says “Edward belongs here, not out there”. This is important because I’m sure it is the same thought that is inside of Edward’s head throughout the film. I also particularly enjoyed the design of the mansion, because it was really the one area where Time Burton could go all out (so to speak). Every house in the little town is very similar, and therefore there isn’t much wiggle-room in terms of design. The mansion, however, is supposed to be different so Tim Burton was able to go nuts. With the interior that makes the mansion appear about 4 times too big, and the lovely “creation area” where the inventor would make cookies, it wouldn’t surprise me if Tim Burton’s house actually looked like this. I also really like the smaller comparisons to be drawn via appearance, like the bank and the police station. Both locations, much like Edward’s home, are very grey in colour and seem almost empty. I don’t believe there is any comparison to be drawn between Edward and these places (I mean, he wouldn’t be much good as a banker would he? He’s got scissors for hands.), but I see them more as a way to poke fun at the more “boring” or “bleak” locations in the real world. Even discounting the looks, Edward Scissorhands feels like a Tim Burton film thanks to the lovely Danny Elfman score. The sweeping emotional moments in the music still don’t trump how unique the songs themselves are. Quirky doesn’t feel like the right word, but the songs are very different (in a good way of course). Really the music matches the film very well in that both are very heartfelt, but also very unique.
Overall Edward Scissorhands is a very sad movie, but also one that is funny and unique. With its great performances, amazing score, and dream-like visuals I would say that it is one of Tim Burton’s best (and quite possibly my favourite of his films).
I give Edward Scissorhands an A