Thursday, 5 November 2015

Edward Scissorhands | 1990 | Film Review

Fig 1 - Movie poster

Edwards Scissorhands (1990) is an eccentric and modern fairy tale brought to the screen by Tim Burton. Based around the ever eccentric character Edward, played by Johnny Depp; as he struggles to adapt to life in suburbia. The film is one of Burton's finest films which is cleverly twisted to show how sheep-like the town is.
Fig 2 - Edward's hands

The little suburbs in which the film is based is Burton making a very bold statement. Not only is the world obviously very skewed, but where would one find a haunting gothic castle on its own little hill at the end of a dainty cul-de-sac. Here he tries to push across that all these ‘individuals’ are copy-cats. How all the houses are identical, even down to the furnishings, its how they try to differentiate themselves from one another by changing the pastel colours of their clothes, kitchens and cars. Even the town runs like clock work. The men go to work at exactly the same time and we can only assume they return at the same time. The women of the town are left to entertain themselves. Its almost like artificial prison world for these dwellers who thrive on the latest gossip, the latest trend purely to become more of an ‘individual’. 

The neighbors in this suburb are insatiably curious, led by a nosy neighbour named Joyce (Kathy Baker). The movie then develops into a series of situations that seem inspired by silent comedy, as when Edward tries to pick up a pea. (Roger Erbert, 14 December 1990)

Of course Edward is the main character but he is incredibly stylised with outfit, appearance and mannerisms. Of course his story is sad but he’s unnaturally pale and clad in a scandalous biker-esque leather attire, with many scars old and new across his face; not forgetting his distinct lack of hands, only razor-sharp blades leaves us to wonder why the ‘Avon lady’ is so willing to accept him so quickly. Even his speech is very basic, almost primitive. 

Then there's Edward himself, one of the most memorable figures in modern cinema: strapped to the throat in S&M black leather, deathly pale, sad-eyed and eyebrowless…(Marc Lee, The Telegraph, 17 December 2014) 
We soon learn that Peg and her family is just an ordinary family, struggling to get by before Edward joins them and promptly falls in love with the daughter, Kim (Winona Ryder). Initially, the neighbours are amused and confused by Edward before learning of his talents. From topiary, hairstyling and salad-chopping to doggy hair dresser, they slowly accept him in. 

Fig 3 - Edward and Joyce

Even as an audience, we can agree that this is a bit of a stretch of the imagination. Who drives to a seemingly abandoned house, finds a person and promptly takes them home in an adoption style without thinking about the consequences. It’s a shame that only a small portion of the film is set in his castle. It could have been so much more of an important plot holder. Maybe Edward could have become scared and run back to his castle, instead we are treated to a seemly repeated scene of him being followed and almost hunted by police.

Edward, who is wrapped from head to toe in shiny, spiked leather, has a bit of a punk look to him; he’s like an angelic version of Sid Vicious. At the same time, he couldn’t be less threatening. He almost never says anything, and when he does, the voice that comes out is shockingly soft and delicate, full of a child’s serene wonder. Edward’s true eloquence can be found in his eyes. They’re black-rimmed and wounded, full of ghostly awareness, and the more you look into them the more you could swear he was about to cry. (Entertainment Weekly, 1990) 

The ending is also slightly disappointing. We all wish that Kim could have returned to see Edward on several occasions, and that the little girl in bed is actually his grand daughter and this little secret was known by few. This film is considered a classic Tim Burton but most feel that it was stopped to quickly for a classic Hollywood style ending. Shameful but true,  the audience cannot but help and root for Edward and his oddball approach to life. 


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