Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Fig. 1
Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands is a incredibly quirky depiction of a romantic fantasy. The film is commended for its set design and beautiful cinematography, one of Burton's finest: "With its comic-book design, 1950s chic and peerless, gothic invention, the film is a visual treat, while Depp's blinking bewilderment made his character one of the icons of the 1990s." (Film4 2008)

The plot follows Edward, a man built by a scientist who dies before finishing him, leaving Edward with scissors for hands. Edward is found and 'rescued' by the local Avon lady in his gothic castle, for which the set design is astonishingly simple and effective. The audience can straight away see the concept art behind the scene. Edward is then taken into the suburban 'bliss' village and is warmly welcomed. He soon becomes a well loved member of the town as both a gardener and hairdresser, but no sooner does he become welcomed, someone plots against him and ends in true Burton style. Edward becomes seen as a threat and runs to his castle, followed by Kim - his true love. Kim's boyfriend also follows and tries to kill them both, resulting in Edward killing him. Kim is left to cover-up the truth and tells the villagers both men are dead. The film ends on a slightly more brighter and magical note, with Kim and her grandchild looking out of the house window at the snow and Edward sculpting ice in the castle, with the line 'Before Edward came it never snowed'.     
Fig. 2
The pastel colours and smooth 'perfect' houses of the suburban village contrast beautifully to the sharp edged, black castle that Edward was created in - the fact that the difference is completely obvious proves effective in this circumstance, especially when the audience sees both structures together. Even the distinction between Edwards tight, leather, stiff clothing and the soft, pastel dresses of the housewives is appreciated by the audience. This assists in making Edward instantly distant to the other people living in the town. Film4 observes, "The small-minded community of a pastel-hued suburb is rocked when an Avon lady (Wiest) fosters Edward Scissorhands (Depp), the unfinished experiment of local Frankenstein, Vincent Price. A pallid, wild-haired innocent with a heart of gold and fingers of steel, Scissorhands becomes the neighbourhood's personal freakshow. He fascinates with his dextrous ability (as hairdresser, ice-sculptor etc.) and arouses strange desires in female loins. But he is never accepted into their pringle swathed hearts. Only Kim Boggs (Ryder), a companion in square-peg-round-hole ostracism, sees the beauty behind the boy's ghostly exterior and they begin a fairytale romance." (Film4 2008) Film4 sums the narrative up wonderfully and takes subtle note of the success of the design within the film.

Jonny Depp plays Edward as a wonderfully naive, child-like recluse. His 'stiff' body movements and bold facial expressions can't help, surprisingly, but make the audience fall in love with this character. Variety suggests, "Director Tim Burton takes a character as wildly unlikely as a boy whose arms end in pruning shears, and makes him the center of a delightful and delicate comic fable." (Variety 2008) Variety praises the narrative and style that Burton portrays through the film. 'Comic Fable' in particular sums the story up perfectly, the narrative similar to Harper Lee's To Kill A Mocking Bird, in the way both Edward and Boo Radely are outsiders, yet are loveable characters and try to do what's right by the people they love.
Fig. 3
Roger Ebert argues, "The movie takes place in an entirely artificial world, where a haunting gothic castle crouches on a mountaintop high above a storybook suburb, a goofy sitcom neighborhood where all of the houses are shades of pastels and all of the inhabitants seem to be emotional clones of the Jetsons." (Ebert 1990) It is apparent that Burton's style isn't appreciated by some critics and that the clear, evident set design is not to some peoples taste. This could be due to the extremes and stereotypes of the people and the village. However, with the narrative most can't help, but love Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands.

List of illustrations

Figure 1. Burton, Tim (1990) Edward Scissorhands Movie Poster. At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)

Figure 2. Burton, Tim (1990) Contrast between the Gothic Castle and the Quaint Suburban Village. At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)

Figure 3. Burton, Tim (1990) Gothic Castle and Garden of Topiary. At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)

Figure 4. Burton, Tim (1990) Jonny Depp as Edward. At:  (Accessed on:14/11/11)

Figure 5. Burton, Tim (1990) Winona Ryder and ice sculpture. At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)


Film4 (2008) Edward Scissorhands (1990). At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)

Variety (2008) Edward Scissorhands (1990). At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)

Roger Ebert (1990) Edward Scissorhands. At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)

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