The movie that established Depp in our minds, in probably his best performance as the deformed, unfinished creation of an eccentric scientist. Rightly called a modern fairy tale as it has all the hallmarks of those classic stories- a strange character, some sort of moral, a dark side, a world almost like our own but slightly warped, a story anyone can enjoy. Edward Scissorhands combines this story with some wonderful acting and characters, memorable score, beautiful cinematography and imagery, which makes an excellent, tender film with the typical Burton trademarks.
The story is told by a grandmother to her granddaughter, and we get to hear it too, beginning with Edward’s creation and development. He grows and is taught about manners, etiquette and other things by his father, but is alone, never seeing or interacting with the outside world. From his room he can see the nearby neighbourhood, within touching distance, but as he is different he cannot go to them. One day his father dies, leaving him unfinished- with giant scissors where his hands should be. He does not understand, and stays in his massive dark house alone. When a local Avon lady, annoyed because of the lack of interest by her neighbours in what she is selling, she decides to try the scientists house, unaware of what is inside. No-one has been there before, it is a typical small town haunted house in the eyes of most. She enters the house when no-one answers, meets Edward and decides to take him home to her family as he is alone and a mess. Looking past his ‘hands’ she accepts him, and her son and husband also try to. Soon he becomes a ray of interesting light in the bored neighbourhood, everyone wants to meet the new guy, and he shows his talent for hedge and dog trimming. However, Edward is enchanted by Kim, the daughter and falls in love. Kim is with a bully of a boyfriend, and soon he and the rest of the neighbourhood take advantage of Edward- he just wants to be nice. Soon though his novelty wears off, and most people see him as evil and dangerous, something to disrupt their daily lives. They chase him away, and the story looks like it will end in tragedy.
Everything in the film works perfectly, every corner of the cast from actors to set designers all do amazingly well. It is one of those rare times when everything seems to come together and fit completely. Dianne West is ideal as the mother Peg, only wanting to help Edward, not trying to score points off her friends. Anthony Michael Hall as Kim’s boyfriend is also an ingenious choice as he emits that typical jock persona, believing he can get whatever he wants, trying to overpower everyone but scared of his father. Vincent Price is the inventor, and gives an admirable and touching performance, a fitting way to end his illustrious career, and the rest of the family and neighbours are all uniquely odd, made even more strange by the routine they live in and the idyllic place they live. Ryder as Kim is also intensely sympathetic, first scared of Edward, but growing to understand and eventually fall in love with him. But overall, in acting terms it is Depp’s film, and no-one could have done better. He completely takes over the role, adding little touches, eye movements and such to add to the character, so that we too love Edward by the end. However, his performance is such that we too realise he cannot be part of the community, he will never fully understand them as they cannot understand him, whether he is in love or not, and this could be harmful for him and others. He does not want to hurt anyone, and so must be on his own. He is a tragic figure, and the movie seems to be saying that the outcast can be heroic, beautiful and tender, but must remain an outcast to keep these characteristics.
Again Burton gives the Gothic look he has become famous for, and this is undoubtedly his most visually beautiful film. Batman had more stunning sets, camera work and stunts, but the charm factor here is almost overwhelming. The Gardens, snow, the ice sculptures, the picture perfect coloured houses and cars all juxtaposed against Edward and his habitat. Edward himself is a work of art, scarred but not horrific. Edward’s home is a wonderful excuse for Burton and the designers to show off, full of shadows and weird inventions. The music adds immensely to the film, raising our emotions that much higher, and it is probably Elfman’s best. Favourite scenes include Kim dancing under the falling ice, and Edward sitting on the pavement with the dog, but every shot and scene is excellent.
The only fault i can find with the film is that it isn’t long enough, or rather, i wish it was longer just so we could be part of that world for a few minutes more. There could have been more scenes between Kim and Edward. It leaves you with a good feeling, and I cannot see any other faults with it. Some may feel it is overly sentimental, but it isn’t, some may feel it is simple, but it is meant to be. A film for outcasts everywhere, but one which should be enjoyed by all, as we all feel like outcasts at some point.
The DVD has two good commentaries, and a featurette which are worth watching/hearing. A must for any collection