Fig. 1. Edward Scissorhands poster.
Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands (1990) is arguably another take on Beauty and the Beast with a slight hint of Frankenstein, set in a stereotypical American 1950’s suburb. Edward Scissorhands is a tale of a young gifted outsiders rise and fall in society; with love and humour this film will grip you from the start.
Fig. 2. Edward and Kim still.
Burton’s tale of a young man who has scars across his face and scissors for hands, who falls in love with a young beauty is very much a classic Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, however Burton’s story offers a slight twist on the conventional fairy tale. For one Edward is created, a work of a creator who dies before he can finish him. As Maslin points out in her review ‘Ms. Ryder plays Kim Boggs, the daughter of the Avon lady, Peg, and a dryly deadpan patriarch (played by Alan Arkin). As lovely as she is diffident, she makes an enchanting Beauty to Mr. Depp's poignant, bashful Beast.’ (Maslin, 2003). Maslin suggests that Burton’s tale is very much a take on the Beauty and the Beast story, this is shown through the love and compassion that emits from Edward, a kind gentle soul who is trapped in a beasts shell.
Edward Scissorhands touches on the demand in society for people to fit in, throughout the film Edward is seen as an exotic, strange and interesting individual, to start with he is almost a celebrity. But as the film progresses society slowly turns on him, exiling him once again due to his incapability of fitting in. As Biodrowski suggests ‘The message seems to be that the gulf cannot be crossed that separates Edward from the rest of the world, and the film ends on a bittersweet note, with Edward and the love of his life (Winona Ryder) forever separated, although their brief time together remains the most significant element of their lives (think Titanic).’ (Biodrowski, 2008). Biodrowski makes the point that it doesn’t matter how hard he tries, Edward cannot fit in to the world that surrounds him so he is forced to carry on living a life of solitude. It is possible that Burton was trying to express the issues with creative individuals fitting into a world that won’t accept them, an unfortunate message that appearance for one can be a dividing factor in the world that we live in.
Burton creates an interesting view of what can be considered a monster (Edward) in normal life, Schwartz mentions in his review ‘The main thrust of the fable is exposing the exotic gentle freak to the boring middle-class suburbs and seeing how they relate to each other, with the monster being the sympathetic innocent and society being the one to fear because of its evil nature.’ (Schwartz, 2008). This suggests that Burton reverses the typical roles of a monster in a film and captures the inner beauty of the beast. It is possible that Burton was trying to suggest that the society that is all very uniform and unimaginative, living in the same houses is in fact the real evil in the world, where as the creative, unique individual who is deemed as an outcast is the real beauty.
Fig. 3. Suburb still.
Burton created an interesting world in Edward Scissorhands, at the end of a suburb lies Edwards home, a giant towering castle that looks very gothic in style. Figure 3 shows the suburb with Edwards home as Peg is on her way to visit him at the start of the film. What this image may suggest at first is that the suburb is a peaceful place with an evil towering menace situated at the end, however Burtons makes the viewer feel the opposite. As the story progresses you soon feel safer in the confinement of the dark gothic world that displays a certain charm and trust into the viewer, as opposed to the danger that lurks in the repressed pastel coloured suburbia. Burton is keen to make the viewer find trust and safety in what looks like a dangerous place, so that they can see the real danger that is all around them.
Edward Scissorhands is a somewhat fairy tale love story that will pull on your heart strings. With moments that will make you laugh and some that will leave you feeling uncomfortable, this film is definitely one to see. With deep underlying society issues and an expression of the consequences of not fitting in this film may leave you questioning how much this happens in everyday life.
Burton, T. (1990). Figure 1. Edward Scissorhands poster. http://images.moviepostershop.com/edward-scissorhands-movie-poster-1990-1020280845.jpg (Accessed on 09/11/2014)
Burton, T. (1990). Figure 2. Edward and Kim still. http://images4.fanpop.com/image/photos/23300000/Edward-Scissorhands-edward-scissorhands-23334059-800-441.jpg (Accessed on 09/11/2014)
Burton, T. (1990). Figure 3. Suburb still. http://cloud.lomography.com/576/313/87/e056eca4d0100a8b481ddf15096a4bca93f0c0.jpg (Accessed on 09/11/2014)
Biodrowski, D. (2008). cinefantastiqueonline.com. http://cinefantastiqueonline.com/2000/10/edward-scissorhands-tim-burtons-elephant-man/ (Accessed on 09/11/2014)
Maslin, J. (2003). nytimes.com. http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9C0CE2D81338F934A35751C1A966958260&partner=Rotten%2520Tomatoes (Accessed on 09/11/2014)
Schwartz, D. (2008). homepages.sover.net. http://homepages.sover.net/~ozus/edwardscissorhands.htm (Accessed on 09/11/2014)