‘Why does is it snow grandma? Where does it come from?’ – are the questions that trigger the telling of this gothic fairytale of Edward, the man with scissors for hands. The much loved film by the respected director Tim Burton was made in 1990 and has become somewhat of a gem in contemporary western cinema. Starring the now Tim Burton-regular, Johnny Depp, in their first collaboration, the role of Edward ignited Depp’s career as a serious actor. Horror master Vincent Price, Burton’s childhood idol, is seen in his last cinematic performance as Edward’s inventor, while Winona Ryder plays the love interest, the cheerleader Kim.
Edward Scissorhands is ‘the story of an uncommonly gentle man’ who after the sudden death of his inventor is left unfinished, having to live with scissors for hands instead of normal human hands which he were intended to have. A friendly Avon-lady finds Edward all alone in his castle, and brings him home to live with her and the rest of her family. Adjusting to life in the suburbs is difficult for Edward though. He struggles to find acceptance and love, but is this even possible when his gentle touch always seems to hurt the ones he love? Everyone, and especially the gossipy housewives who live in the neighborhood, are at first intrigued by this mysterious stranger, and take advantage of him and his unusual skills with scissors, but it does not take long for the ‘cards to turn,’ as narrow-mindedness and hostility towards Edward starts spreading in the neighborhood.
What makes Edward Scissorhands so special is the obvious collaboration between artists with a similar vision. The soundtrack is beautifully made by Danny Elfman, and together with Tim Burton’s sense of quirky visuals, and the added spice of a Tom Jones song, this is a film which skillfully presents a world of its own. The film has a very simple storyline, yet the emotional intensity runs deep. The story is rather predictable, and several unoriginal elements are used throughout the film, but it is the juxtaposition of these elements which provides the film with its originality. Combined with the films non-realism and attention to detail, these are all part of the films charm.
Because of the simplicity of the story, the simple use of camera and editing leaves room for the emotional intensity of the film to shine through via other aspects, such as the setting and the performances. Most characters are rather clichéd, but within the playful fairytale universe of Edward Scissorhands, this too seems to have its purpose, which is to visualize the alienation that Edward feels from the world. All performances are excellent, but Johnny Depp’s characterization of Edward is especially noteworthy. The subtle facial expressions and characteristic movements of the quiet young man add to the magic of the universe and make him one of the ‘90ies most beloved characters.
Overall, this is definitely a film worth watching – and not just once, but several times. The mix of kitsch artifacts and pop culture Tim Burton adds to the otherwise simple love story makes for a heartwarming film which cannot help but force a smile on your face. This modern fairytale is pure and innocent, and it can be watched by everyone – everyone who has a heart that is. Even if that heart is made of cookie dough…
Forget all about Alice in Wonderland or Batman, watch Edward Scissorhands, and experience the great Tim Burton at his best!