Update: The Edward Scissorhands ballet by
Matthew Bourne will tour North America at the end of 2006, after
a popular run in the U.K. The tour will start in San Francisco
with other cities to be confirmed. See the links section for
more information about the stage show.
Edward Scissorhands is Burton's masterpiece.
It's the story of an uncommonly gentle man (Johnny Depp, in
what may still be his finest role) who finds fame, love, and
then rejection in the heart of suburbia. Like the best fairytales,
the story can be read many ways, from a plea for tolerance for
handicapped people, to an exploration of the tortured artist
Scissorhands is arguably Burtonís most personal
film, a moving portrait of an artistic outsider who cannot touch
what he desires without destroying it. While he may have made
more technically adept films since, none of his other work comes
close to the emotion of this deceptively simple story. The stunning
visuals and heartbreakingly beautiful score by Danny Elfman
have also added to this film's status as an all-time classic.
Burton mixes classic fairytale themes to create an original
and touching character in Edward. Taken from his gothic castle
to a colourful and romanticised suburban neighbourhood he changes
the lives of the townsfolk forever. The first half of the film
is very funny, full of subtle physical comedy and gentle satire
on suburban life. Edward brings his artistic skill to the town
and the people almost ignore his bizarre appearance. Then he
begins a longing romance for Kim, the girl he lives with but
who seems to want nothing to do with him. He eventually wins
her love, but is exploited by and then violently rejected by
The film is made with a skill far exceeding Burton's previous
works. The unforgettable images and Elfman's haunting score
make this one of the all-time fantasy greats. Every performance
is perfect. Johnny Depp brings a feeling of tortured emotion
to his almost silent character that lingers long in the memory.
I literally forgot who's playing the part. Dianne Wiest and
Alan Arkin are, respectively, touchingly real and hilariously
blank as the parents who adopt him. Winona Ryder brings warmth
and beauty (in a blonde wig) to her supporting role as the object
of Edward's affectations, who comes to love him for his artistic
vision. Anthony Michael Hall is suitably menacing as the jealous
jock who eventually gets his come-uppance, and Kathy Baker funny
as the sex-starved, Tom Jones-listening housewife. Finally,
Vincent Price, in his last feature film role, brings extra resonance
as Edward's inventor.
Some criticisms of the film point out the supposed plot holes
- such as why does he have scissors for hands and where did
he get the ice? They are missing the point, as this fairytale
bears no relation to the real world, except in its themes. You
have to suspend your disbelief. That's why the timeless setting
could be anywhere from the fifties to the present. Another criticism
is that the violent ending was unnecessary, but without that
the film would literally have no point. Edward is the most normal
person in the movie and it is the twisted townsfolk who are
the true monsters, resulting in his loss of innocence.
Semi-autobiographical themes are worked in by Burton and screenwriter
Caroline Thompson, but not overdone. Edward represents, among
other things: the unconditional love of an animal; a childlike
sense of wonder; an adolescent's clumsiness and someone who
longs to touch others without hurting them. The famously beautiful
scene where Edward makes an ice-sculpture as Kim dances in the
snow is the ultimate representation of the artist communicating
his feelings through his work. This film is almost perfect in
its own way, even with the unfortunately sad ending. Unlike
most Christmas films, though, this is refreshingly free of schmaltz.
To sum up, I believe Burton will never make anything approaching
the depth and emotion of this wonderful film again. It's funny,
sad and visually striking. What more could anyone want from
Arran McDermott 2005
"Before he came down here, it never snowed. And afterwards,
it did. If he
up there now, I don't think it would be snowing.
you can still
catch me dancing in it.
Here's a fascinating
article studying the psychological allegory found in Edward
We have a gallery
of exclusive images from the movie. We'll be adding more
articles and links to this page as time goes by, so keep checking
back! Check out the Edward
Scissorhands forum to discuss the film with other fans.