Friday, 22 November 2013

Film Review - Edward Scissorhands (1990)


Edward Scissorhands (1990) is another unusually beautiful film directed by Tim Burton. Tim Burton is known for his quirky and out of the ordinary style and this film is no different. Edward Scissorhands is a take on a mixture of the Frankenstein tale  and on the classic "Beauty & the Beast," tale, just like La Belle et La Bete (1946) though unlike La Belle et La Bete the context of the classic tale has a different approach in how it is placed in a contemporary society. It is about an kind and gentle young man who has scissors for hands and who falls in love with a beautiful adolescent girl, though the young man is actually an invention that was left unfinished due to the early death of his creator, a lonely scientist, who created him for companionship, teaching him art, poetry and etiquette. 

At the start of Edward Scissorhands the audience is presented by a shot that guides audiences through the inside of a snow globe that then leads us to a serene mystical castle in the snow, setting peaceful mood for the film, like the personality of Edward Scissorhands through the use of great visual language, this introduces us to the the start of the story. Shortly afterwards the audience is shown a grand master shot, that greatly shows the viewers the contrasting difference between the main protagonist Edward and the people of the suburban neighbourhood. Creating a highly colourful suburban area and placing it at the bottom of a huge dark mythical castle, the difference in style and colours was no mistake on Tim Burton's part. In the neighbourhood all the houses and cars are a shade of pastel and its inhabitants all wear brightly coloured clothes , the suburban neighbourhood looks very artificial, which audiences later find out reflects the personality of most of the neighborhoods inhabitants. "...gothic castle crouches on a mountaintop high above a storybook suburb, a goofy sitcom neighbourhood where all the houses are shades of pastels and all of the inhabitants seem to be emotional clones of the Jetsons." (Ebert, 1990).


The film starts off with Peg, an Avon representative, doing her daily errands trying to sell Avon products with little success, until she stumbles across Edward's castle. Taken aback with delight Peg sees the beautiful garden of the castle, before knocking on the door, with no reply Peg becomes curious and explores the castle further, where there is a much different atmosphere. Left alone since his inventor's death Edward lives in a run down castle, the interior possesses a dark Gothic quality, it is surrounded by dust and cobwebs and broken windows, it all looks very dead,  something you'd see in a ghost story, which expresses's Edward's loneliness, but his garden is bright and alive with magnificent grass sculptures, a representation of when he is at his happiest, his kind nature and how his soul is very much alive. Eventually Peg runs into Edward, though startled at first, she soon realises he is not a danger and becomes sympathetic with him, as he accidentally slices gashes in his face every time he tries to move hair from his face, with Peg being a mother herself her maternal instincts kick in and she offers to take Edward home to look after him. "Peg is alarmed at first by the flash of Edward's lethal blades. But her maternal instincts are soon aroused. Edward is a hazard, slicing gashes in his face every time he wipes away a stray of hair." (Travers, 1990).



When Edward enters the neighbourhood, the inhabitants do what is expected and gossip about the "strange man" that is with Peg and they all ring each other up about it, with the religious woman claiming Edward has been sent from hell. In Peg's home Edward notices a family portraits, particularly Peg's daughter, before a series of events occur where we comically see Edward try to do everyday things like eat dinner or get dressed and we soon realise just how much of an outsider Edward really is in this suburban area. After Edward is introduced to the rest of the neighbourhood, forcefully by the self-proclaimed leader of the housewives, Joyce, they soon discover his innocence and kind heart, and take advantage of it as well as his talent. Edward starts creating grass sculptures in everyone's gardens and this shows that the heart of Edward and acceptance of Edward becomes apparent within the neighbourhood, for a time. 

Everything seems to be looking good for Edward and he becomes happy, as he feels wanted and welcome, despite his obvious deviance from the norm of the rest of the neighbourhood. From the hopes of starting his own business, to becoming a national  celebrity and the chance to gain real hands, and Joyce, being a lonely housewife even makes sexual advances onto him, though this isn't a good thing, however it shows that the people of the neighbourhood have looked past his unusual appearance and love him for his talents and kindness, but despite all this Edward charmingly and consistently maintains his lovable innocence. Until Kim, Peg's daughter, returns home and her boyfriend, greedy for his father's money, pressures Edward to break into his dad's secret room, using his scissorhands, as it was discovered earlier Edward could unlock doors when Kim had forgotten her key. Just wanting to please Kim and help people Edward innocently agreed to help Kim's boyfriend leaving him to get trapped and caught by the police, while Kim wants to go back to help him as he's innocent her boyfriend, a coward, drives off, not taking any responsibility. The police let him go as they realise he doesn't know any better and know he wouldn't do it with malicious intent. 


After this event the neighbourhood starts to turn hostile towards Edward, reinforcing him as a lonely outsider once again, with just Peg, Kim and the rest of their family supporting him, Joyce even claims that Edward made unwanted sexual advances towards her to the other inhabitants. This hostility becomes more intense when Edward unintentionally ends up harming those he loves, when Kim is in the midst of her feelings for Edward she dances under the an ice statue of Edward's. An iconic scene that people remember and love from the film, due to its beautiful and loving gentle display, before Edward asks her to be careful of the ladder he is on, as he doesn't want her to get hurt but accidentally cuts her face and Kim's boyfriend sees this in the wrong light and starts attacking him even though Kim admits it was her fault and it is nothing. 

The hatred for Edward escalates more when he tries to save Kim's younger brother from being run over by her boyfriends car, although he does successfully save his life he accidentally draws blood and he is chased out the neighbourhood. With Kim's boyfriend being the main reason behind the people's hate towards him. The ending of the film is bittersweet, Kim runs towards Edward's castle to see Edward and confess her feelings for him, which was not always so, when first meeting him she was terrified and hated him but she soon realised how gentle and kind he was and started to fall for him, despite his sinister appearance. When Kim tells Edward she loves him and asks for him to embrace her, sadly and sweetly Edward says he can't before Kim embraces him, then the boyfriend runs in tries to kill Edward before Kim kills her boyfriend, telling Edward to hide while she tells the angry people of the neighbourhood that both Edward and her boyfriend died, so that they would leave Edward alone. Kim never sees Edward again.



In conclusion Edward Scissorhands (1990) is a magical, visually stunning and heartbreaking film, the set designs are unique and clever, with the artificial "happy" neighbourhood representing the characters that live there well, excluding Peg's family, with their lies and false warmth and kindness as Peg was also seen as an unwanted inhabitant at the start of the film when she was selling her Avon products. Edward's castle showcases his loneliness and need for some love and care and the way the neighbourhood changes with the influence of Edward being more apparent as he is more accepted, even to the neighbourhood dogs. The visuals leave a massive impression on its audiences and so does the character of Edward. It is common play for Burton to create an outcast film, as they are more personal to him as he was an outcast growing up in California, but his personal touches make the films more magical and inspiring. "The Visual representation of suburban life is skillfully and imaginatively portrayed through the eyes of the outsider, of Edward and no doubt the eyes of self proclaimed odd-ball Burton Himself." (Horne, 2003).

Ebert, R Edward Scissorhands [Online] At: (Accessed on 13.11.13)

Horne, D Edward Scissorhands [Online] At: (Accessed on 18.11.13)

Travers, P Edward Scissorhands [Online] At: (Accessed on 13.11.13)

Fig.1 Edward Scissorhands [Poster Art] At: (Accessed on 13.11.13)

Fig.2 Edward Scissorhands, Neighbourhood [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 13.11.13)

Fig.3 Edward Scissorhands, Castle [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 13.11.13)

Fig.4 Edward Scissorhands [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 13.11.13)

Fig.5 Edward Scissorhands [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 18.11.13)

Fig.6 Snow Dance [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 18.11.13)

Fig.7 Ice Sculptures [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 18.11.13)

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