The first time I saw ‘Edward Scissorhands’, I was a young teenager. With only a few exceptions, I never had a major bully problem growing up. However, complete with a somewhat menacing look, but a kind heart, I was certainly misunderstood. So, the character, and indeed the whole concept of Edward Scissorhands immediately won me over and made me feel better about life and my place within the world. I always marvel at how a film can connect to a person on such a personal level.
‘Edward Scissorhands’ is a dark fairytale about a suburban family who find an eccentric young man named Edward (Johnny Depp) who, you guessed it, has scissors for hands. Edward is living in an old, abandoned mansion down the street, once owned by a brilliant, but reclusive scientist (Vincent Price) until the Bogs family allow this young man to come into their home and try to help him attain some sense of normality. Meanwhile, distrusting neighbours and menacing brutes try to abuse Edward’s innocence and abilities to their own gain. Despite this, Edward ultimately falls for the family’s eldest daughter, Kim (Winona Ryder), and together they share a unique romance.
The entire cast was wonderful, as expected. Johnny Depp was an inspired choice for the role of Edward, as he is soft-spoken and eccentric; the perfect fit. I could relate to his character and sympathised with him several times during the film, wanting him to be happy and find meaning to his life. Further to this, I love the family dynamic and how the seemingly normal family interact with Edward in various ways. There is a lot of satire about “normal” life within the film, highlighting how small-town neighbourhoods can be rife with gossip – which I found strikingly accurate. The surreal tone of the film is never lost and while it has some Gothic elements, it also never lets itself become too serious. The film consistently maintains a sense of humour as well as wonder.
There is really not much to dislike about the film. I wish there were more scenes involving Vincent Price, but I understand his health was failing and that wasn’t on the cards. There is certainly some interesting character development from the lead roles of Edward and Kim, but I would have liked to have seen more development from other characters. ‘Edward Scissorhands’ is supposed to be a surreal film, but some characters were unrealistically accepting of Edward at first sight. While Anthony Michael Hall plays his role well, as the beefy louse of a boyfriend, I couldn’t stop picturing him as the nerdy kid from ‘Weird Science’ and ‘The Breakfast Club’. Still, these are rather minor – and personal – complaints and I do consider ‘Edward Scissorhands’ to be among the finest work by Tim Burton.
In the end, ‘Edward Scissorhands’ is not just one of Burton’s greatest works, but is also among the finest movies of the 1990s. This is an iconic movie by a director in his prime, with everything meticulously crafted and well placed within the film to create that dark sense of wonder. Burton pokes fun at suburban life and adds a fantastical, surreal character into an otherwise authentic situation. On the outside, Edward looks menacing, but within lies a gentle, sweet, and all-round beautiful soul. For anyone who felt misunderstood growing up, or even presently, this movie should stand as a beacon of light within mainstream cinema.
DIRECTOR: TIM BURTON
STARRING: JOHNNY DEPP, WINONA RYDER, ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL, DIANNE WEST