movie film review | chris tookey
 
     
     
 

Edward Scissorhands


© 20th Century Fox - all rights reserved
     
  Edward Scissorhands Review
Tookey's Rating
9 /10
 
Average Rating
7.00 /10
 
Starring
Johnny Depp , Winona Ryder , Dianne Wiest
Full Cast >
 

Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: Caroline Thompson


 
 
 
Released: 1990
   
Genre: DRAMA
UNDERRATED
BLACK COMEDY
FANTASY
SCIENCE FICTION
ROMANCE
COMEDY
   
Origin: US
   
Length: 98
 
 


 

An old inventor (Vincent Price) dies as he is about to fit hands to his finest creation: a real, live boy called Edward (Johnny Depp). A kindly Avon Lady (Dianne Wiest) takes Edward down to her neighbourhood, where he wins popularity through his talent for topiary, hair-cutting and dog-grooming. The tone darkens as he allows himself to become exploited by Mrs Bogg's teenage daughter Kim (Winona Ryder) and her yob boy-friend (Anthony Michael Hall). Edward's nonconformity becomes a threat, and his scissors are no longer creative tools, but as weapons.

Reviewed by Chris Tookey

Bookmark and Share

Several dozen cuts above the Hollywood average: the story is a weird but wonderful mix of American suburban comedy and Gothic romance - a bit like Happy Days, re-written by Roald Dahl. There are delightful performances from Johnny Depp and Dianne Weist, and anyone who enjoys character acting will enjoy Alan Arkin as the well-meaning, blue-collar Mr Boggs, and Kathy Baker as the neighbourhod man-eater in man-made fibres.There's a deliberate lack of depth to these characters: they have the kind of simplicity you find in fairy tales. And yet they're convincing: Winona Ryder's teenager is oddly lovable in her adolescent weakness, and touching when she realizes the extent of her awfulness. The scene where she dances in the snow is one of the most magical moments in cinema.
The film is plainly an allegory; and like all the richest allegories, you will find your own meaning. On one level, it's about handicap: Edward is both handicapped and "special", like an autistic child with miraculous drawing ability. Edward also represents the artist, tolerated and celebrated by "normal" people - but only as long as he is not unduly threatening. Others may spot the affinity which Edward has with Christ - there are hints at the end that he has the power to control the weather and that he's immortal. All in all, itís a highly original, modern fairy-tale about the eternal gulf between conformism and creativity.
Pedants should give the film a wide berth. Its tone is deliberately unrealistic in the juxtaposition of suburban normality next to Gothic horror, and in the conscious use of anachronism (colour television, aerobics and videotape are all around, even though the setting seems to be the late 50s). Cineastes, however, should enjoy the film's wealth of cinematic allusions (which range from The 5000 Fingers of Dr T to Nightmare On Elm Street , the slasher movie in which Johnny Depp had his first role). And lovers of legend will have a fine time spotting influences which range from Beauty and the Beast to Struwwelpeter.
There was evidence of director Tim Burton's visual flair in his three previous films, Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice and Batman. Here, he had reason to thank his co-screenwriter, Caroline Thompson (who wrote a deceptively simple script which would be enjoyable without subtitles in any country), and a superb design team. Edward Scissorhands attracted mixed reviews and didnít set the box office on fire, but posterity may recognize it for what it was: a fantastic achievement.

Key to Symbols