A man with scissors for hands is taken in by a family and falls in love with their daughter.
Directed by – Tim Burton
Written by – Tim Burton, Caroline Thompson
Starring – Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, Kathy Baker, Robert Oliveri, Conchata Ferrell, Caroline Aaron, Dick Anthony williams, O-Lan Jones, Vincent Price, Alan Arkin, Susan Blommaert, Linda Perri, Biff Yeager, Marti Greenberg, Bryan Larkin, John McMahon
With the families recent trip to the Tim Burton exhibit running at the TIFF Bell Lightbox building in Toronto I figured it would be a good time to visit some of the great films of Burton that I’ve always enjoyed. It was the exhibit that reminded me of those films and it seemed to spark an interest in the kids about the movies. There are certainly a lot of films to choose from but I’ve always preferred the earlier works of Burton. While his style hasn’t drastically changed over the years, I find the early works have a bit more of the dark and quirky touch to them. Edward Scissorhands sits almost in the middle of his work with a few feature films and a collection of short films coming before it and my original draw to the film would have been my huge crush on Winona Ryder. I’ve come to enjoy more than just her in the movie over the years though!
The figure of Edward is quite sinister looking but his intentions are always pure. It’s this odd balance that sits at the center of many Burton films. The results may look monstrous but inside is always a caring heart. In contrast to the dark, foreboding house on top of the hill that Edward lives in is the brightly coloured town below. Cookie cutter houses painted in varying neon colours filled with husbands who all leave for work at the same time and wives who rush home to cook dinner hide the real monsters of the story. Secrets are whispered behind backs and Edwards life is turned upside down when the townspeople decide that Edward is no good. It’s almost the suburban Frankenstein story. Misunderstood monster and angry pitchfork wielding townsfolk.
Johnny Depp plays the role of Edward to a naive perfection and has gone on to be Burton’s muse. It’s unfortunate that his performances don’t carry the same weight anymore but the childish way he portrays Edward was still new at this time. Dianne Wiest as the cares-too-much mother Peg and Alan Arkin as the doesn’t-care-enough dad Bill are great. I really enjoyed Arkin in his role as the typical dad. He manages to completely ignore everything that is going on around him while still dishing out life advice in an attempt to make Edward a man. While Winona Ryder as Kim was a pleasure to look at, her performance left a little to be desired. Everything she did just seemed a little flat and her roles over the years have been hit or miss for me. There’s moments where she shines in Edward Scissorhands but overall it was the weakest role in the film. That’s too bad since her character plays one of the bigger parts of the movie as the girl who Edward falls in love with.
The film is quite enjoyable but the real star of the movie is the incredible design work. It’s not as out there as Beetlejuice was but Edward’s home and the inventions that fill it, courtesy of Vincent Price as the Inventor, are pure Burton. The strange town below Edward’s home is probably even more frightening than anything else. The clockwork nature of how everything works and the way it looks too perfect screams madness really. You know that nothing good is going on behind the brightly coloured doors. The film ends on such a bittersweet note but lacks the emotional punch with the flatness of Ryder’s performance. It could have been so much better had Ryder really delivered. In the end it’s still a great Burton work that I’ve always enjoyed and it certainly stands out as one of those weird flicks.
Under the marquee – Will