When it comes to 90s movies, there are many films that would seem too obscure to reach profitable popularity in any other decade, but in the 90s they produce a massive cult following. One of these films is Tim Burton’s humble, lovable Edward Scissorhands.
Our story begins in an old, lonely castle atop a menacing hill. It is there that an inventor lives, creating new devices and tinkering around with them. One day, he decides to create a man whom he decides to named Edward. The scientist is like a father figure to the creature, but dies before he is able to finish making Edward. Left alone, confused, and with scissors for hands, Edward isolates himself in a dark corner of the castle and watches the days pass by. It isn’t until the super-friendly, motherly makeup saleswoman, Peg, discovers him that he is granted a new life. Peg pities Edward and decides to invite him into her home.
His scissor hands are not appreciated by everyone, though, and his eccentricities quickly become a barrier to friendship and acceptance. Through his own quiet, gentle, humble disposition, Edward eventually makes an impression on everyone he meets. Whether it be curiosity, anger, or fear, Edward is the talk of the neighborhood.
Unfortunately, Edward’s good nature leaves him open to be taken advantage of. His artistic use of his scissor hands is exploited and he is tricked into burglarizing a house by Peg’s daughter and her asshole boyfriend. Edward’s frustration and feelings of rejection make him shy away from society, and he also learns that he is unable to touch others without accidentally hurting them with his sharply-bladed fingers. The townspeople’s curiosity and love toward him is replaced with fear and a desire to get rid of him.
Edward Scissorhands is simultaneously a love story, a lesson in kindness, and a tale of rejection and estrangement. It’s a tale about how a strange person, no matter how gentle and well-meaning, can enter a conformed society and shake things up beyond repair. It explores the reaches of human tolerance for someone who is different than them and how those who stray from the norm will be used and eventually rejected, damaging their inherent goodness. Despite all of the evil that exists around Edward in the form of deceit, gossip, jealousy, hypocrisy, and a lack of understanding, he remains vigilantly gentle and innocent.
It’s definitely my favorite pairing of Johnny Depp with Tim Burton, and his performance as Edward is touching and believable. The lush, pastel beauty of the neighborhood landscape is well-contrasted to the dark, grey, gothic scenery of Edward’s world. The irony exists in the fact that the lonely, isolated castle is a more comforting shelter from the pretty world outside where the evil truly exists. Danny Elfman’s score is a perfect blend of the weird and the soft in much the same way the film is. While not always remembered as the most popular film Burton ever did, it is one of my favorites and certainly the most beautiful.