A gentle man, with scissors for hands, is brought into a new community after living in isolation.
It’s been 25 years since ‘Edward Scissorhands’ was released, and to this day it’s still an enduring modern fairytale and my favourite Tim Burton film. A perfect blend of fantasy and romance with gothic features, ‘Edward Scissorhands’ is a unique and compelling take on the Frankenstein origin story. Over the course of his career, Tim Burton has made a variety of films focusing on outsiders, and his star Johnny Depp has made a career out of playing them. In their first (and best) collaboration, they created something truly magical.
For those that don’t know the story, the film focuses on the titular character, the creation of a reclusive inventor (played by horror legend Vincent Price) who died before he could complete his project. This left Edward with scissors for hands and abandoned in a gothic mansion on a hill overlooking a suburban neighbourhood. When local Avon lady Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest) pays a visit, she brings him back down to her home in the neighbourhood and he becomes an unusual member of the family and the community. The early stages of the film focus primarily on the fish out of water angle as Edward adapts to his new surroundings by utilising his unusual feature to good effect by trimming edges and offering haircuts to pets and humans alike. Burton gets a lot of mileage out of satirising suburban neighbourhoods, focusing on the gossiping of the neighbours when Edward arrives and then showing how quickly they turn against him on the back of a couple of false accusations.
Roles like ‘Edward Scissorhands’ have become a regular occurrence for Johnny Depp over the years, but he’s rarely delivered such a subtle performance under a fantastical exterior. Using the limited dialogue to his advantage, Depp does most of his acting with his eyes as he finds the humanity within the character. It’s a sad, gentle display and Depp’s performance is heartbreaking, particularly towards the films conclusion during his scenes with Winona Ryder. The film is very funny and a lot of that is down to the stellar supporting cast, namely the likes of Dianne Wiest, Alan Arkin and Kathy Baker, who all help to add a lot of colour to Burton’s world. This is all boosted by one of Danny Elfman’s finest scores, a booming and jaunty effort that really brings the story to life. His score is at its strongest during the flashbacks to Edward’s invention where there’s a playfulness at work as we survey the various machines used to create Edward, and this contrasts with the sadness of the current scenes in the derelict mansion after the inventor has passed away.
Whether the film was designed as a Christmas film or not is another matter, but it fits in perfectly at this time of year with a romantic wintry conclusion that sends a shiver up my spine. ‘Edwards Scissorhands’ is a superbly entertaining fantasy, haunting, funny and moving in equal measure, and 25 years on it still does it for me.
Directed By: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Alan Arkin, Anthony Michael Hall, Kathy Baker, Robert Oliveri, Conchata Ferrell and Vincent Price