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Edward Scissorhands, Tim Burton, & Social Fear

Cast: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest


Director: Tim Burton


Synopsis: An inventor (Vincent Price) creates possibly his best invention yet – the gentle, but not quite finished, Edward (Johnny Depp). With a rather freakish appearance and scissor blades for hands, Edward finds himself catapulted into a somewhat welcoming suburbia after his creator dies.


Review: From the opening credits, Edward Scissorhands promises to take you on a fairy tale journey, created as much by Danny Elfman’s music as Tim Burton’s direction and visuals. We are thrown into a world that mixes fantasy and reality. This is emphasised by the colourful world Burton creates – a stark contrast to some of his other films.


Although it is not explicitly stated when the film is set, Burton depicts a typical 50s American suburbia with matching houses and neatly trimmed gardens. This is juxtaposed against the Gothic run-down mansion sat high on the top of a hill. A mansion which holds the special creation: Edward.


The story moves quite quickly, with failing Avon rep Peg (Wiest) discovering Edward whilst seeking out new customers. She enters his Gothic mansion willingly and the absurdness of her lack of fear is something which is refreshing and humorous. After her initial shock at discovering a young man with a face covered in scars and blades for hands, she takes it upon herself to help him.


Ushering him out of isolation and his place of hiding, she drives him to her house. News travels fast in any small community, but Burton emphasises the point here when the news of Edward is across town by the time they arrive home.


What follows shows how one act of kindness can spiral, creating a ripple effect of positivity. But it seems only Peg’s intentions are pure. Edward is accepted into the family, with a little hesitation, mainly by Peg’s daughter Kim (Winona Ryder).


However, his initial acceptance into the community is perhaps somewhat superficial - people are always intrigued by someone or something new, but that doesn’t mean they accept it. Change can be feared, and until that change is proven safe, not everyone’s intentions are true.


Fear of change is definitely a theme associated with this era and something which it seems Burton wished to comment on.


Peg and her family’s intentions are never up for questioning in this film, it’s not that sort of movie. She may be failing as a sales representative but there seems to be no hidden agenda, other than trying to help someone in need. Kim (Ryder) and Edward’s (Depp) relationship grows over the course of the film, and, though never allowed to be fully realised, it is charming to watch; as is Depp’s ability to convey emotion with hardly any lines - a tribute to his acting skills.


It is Edward’s childlike innocence that makes audiences fall in love with this film. I watched Edward Scissorhands when I was a child and then again as an adult. Watching it when I was younger, with the childlike innocence that Depp portrays, allows for pure enjoyment.


Now, as an adult, I was distracted by hidden meanings and symbolism, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it all over again. Overall, 7/10.


Written by Rebecca Perkin