Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Edward Scissorhands - Film Review

Tim Burton's 1990 film "Edward Scissorhands" is quite rightly thought of as a master class in many different fields, production design, casting choices, scriptwriting and finally directing. The story follows that of Edward (Johnny Depp), a man created from scratch and given sets of threatening scissors for hands in a gothic castle which overlooks the orderly suburban area below. Peg (Dianne Wiest) discovers Edward when she ventures into his castle looking to sell products for her business, and seeing his vulnerability brings him into her home. The suburban area soon takes a shining to Edward as they see him as another individual trend they can willingly become slaves to. After Edward's unique traits are exploited by the community through the means of haircuts and garden landscaping, he is discovered at the scene of a robbery he was only committing due to his naivety and in the name of love. That love being for his now adopted families teenage daughter Kim (Winona Rider). After the novelty of having a new highly unique character in the suburban community has officially worn off, the citizens see Edwards newly acquired criminal record as a reason to turn against him and effectively exile him from their beloved suburban area, like an old piece of furniture that has also gone so quickly off trend. After being chased from the suburbs back into his original gothic dwelling's, Edwards quickly finds himself under attack from Kim's now ex boyfriend Jim (Anthony Michael Hall) where he attempts to kill Edwards. In the process Kim is injured and Edward, driven by love, pushes Jim to his death. After the community carry on with their lives, believing Edward to be dead, Scissorhands is forced to live out the rest of his days at a lonely end, and we the audience are pulled through one of the most tragic "what could of been" love stories of all time.

Image result for edward scissorhands poster
Fig 1: Edward Scissorhands, Movie Poster

Along with this beautifully imagined story, Burton has crafted a hugely believable world out of an other wise distant fairy tale. As 1950 inspired buildings, cars, home furnishings and costumes are painted across each shot, described as being "where the houses huddle together like a candy-colored wagon train" (Maslin, 1990), the viewer cannot help but be fully digested into Edwards reality. It would seem that these extremely stylised set pieces, plastered in a range of vulgar pastel colours, are there as a marker for the viewer to see as a way of realising just how far out of touch and undamaged the character of Edward is.

It would be impossible to view this film without being completely absorbed in Depp's performance as Edwards. Depp's ability and unmatched talent to find real depth and meaning in a character so far fetched and detached from the real world. For the world of Edward Scissorhands would not be so without the character himself, and for this movie to be the classic it has become, you would need a true master to play this role, which Burton undoubtedly found in Depp. Depp's performance in Edward Scissorhands has also been appreciated by others, with such descriptions being attached to his performance as "tremulous and affecting" (Gleiberman, 1990).

Fig 3: Edward Scissorhands

However powerful and connecting these two dimensions of the movie are, there seems to be one final thing that really trumps this movie's excellence, the score. The most otherworldly orchestral pieces spiral through haunting scenes and shots throughout the move, leaving the audience wondering what is this movie really missing? Nothing. Eerie and wonderful choir voices glide through the opening and closing scenes of the movie which really gives the viewer the final piece of this fantastical puzzle and making this movie along with its title character iconic.

What Burton, along with Depp, Rider and the rest of the cast have done by working on Edward Scissorhands is without a doubt inspirational. It really feels like this movie was given Burton's whole attention, which is something the viewer can really appreciate and admire, "Burton's vision, for all its sadness, is laced with humour and humanity" (.Lee, 2014) is one way this masterpiece has been described, which seems undoubtedly true after view this light hearted gothic tale. This paired with the performance of the lead roles leave it firmly, and lovingly cemented into many peoples list of favourite film's.


Gleiberman, Owen, 1990, Edward Scissorhands
http://www.ew.com/article/1990/12/07/edward-scissorhands Accessed on: 03/11/15

 Lee, Marc, 2014, Edward Scissorhands, review: 'a true fairytale'
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/filmreviews/11298442/Edward-Scissorhands-review-a-true-fairytale.html Accessed on: 03/11/15

Maslin, Janet, 1990, Edward Scissorhands (1990), Film/ Review; And so handy around the garden
http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9C0CE2D81338F934A35751C1A966958260&partner=Rotten%2520Tomatoes Accessed on: 03/10/15

llustration List

Fig 1: Movie Poster, Edward Scissorhands, https://hypersonic55.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/edward-scissorhands-review/edward-scissorhands-poster/, Accessed on 26/04/18

Fig 2: Screenshot, Edward Scissorhands,
http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/edward-scissorhands/images/33284326/title/edward-scissorhands-photo,  Accessed on 03/11/15


  1. An interesting and thoughtful review Lewis :)
    For some reason, I can't see figures 1 and 2... not sure if it just me, or a general problem. Don't forget to italicise all your quotes... you have forgotten to do the last one - and double check the referencing guide to see what needs to be italicised in the bibliography.

  2. Okay jackie I'll sort that out, I don't know why the first two images aren't showing up? Could that be to do with the size of the image or something like that?