Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Edward Scissor Hands Film Review

Edwards Scissor Hands (1990) is famed for being one of Tim Burton’s purest films. Everything about the world he creates in the film leads the viewers’ sympathies towards Edward- the outcast of the film. The protagonist Edward is based on Burton himself. Burton said  “I get the feeling people just got this urge to want to leave me alone for some reason, I don’t know exactly why. It was as if I was exuding some kind of aura that said ‘Leave Me The Fuck Alone ’” (Burton, 2000). The film was created to represent his feeling of isolation. It started with a drawing Burton created as a teenager, and then recreated later on in his career. (fig 1)
(fig 1) Edward's Scissor Hands Illustration, Tim Burton
Burton felt that Johnny Depp could portray this character perfectly as he sensed a familiar hesitance in his disposition. He felt that Johnny could provoke a lot of emotion is his eyes- the face being the only true human part of Edwards body. Burton said of Johnny - "Johnny was perceived as a teen idol but he didn't feel that way about himself, The words freakish and freak have so many interpretations, and in a weird way he sort of relates to freaks because he is treated as one” (Burton, 2000). With this mind set the character of Edward could relate to so many people- Viewers can see themselves in Edward.
 Set in a suburban American town in the early 1960s, the streets and characters are a warped exaggeration of the bold pop coloured styles and people of the time. (see fig 2) As well as creating an aesthetically pleasing and fun visual style, the over exaggeration and fakeness of the world evokes a slightly unsettling feeling that something is not quite right. An inhumanness that viewers then try and compensate in the more emotionally pure Edward- who is ironically not even human himself, and has lived in seclusion, perhaps a message therefore about the impact of media and society of the time. This point is summed up quite nicely by reviewer Alias Esteryn- “The apparently gloomy castle is in fact a shelter from the seemingly happy outside world, which is in fact, much darker and sinister underneath its bright colours” (Esteryn, Date Unknown)
(fig 2) Still of pastel suburb
 Everything around Edward seems to be created to be the solar opposite of him, the most extreme example of this being the extreme contrast between Edward’s dark, lifeless mansion and the bustling colourful all-American suburb below. The score throughout the film, ingeniously composed be Danny Elfman, sets the mood of the film. Not only does it create a mythically Christmassy atmosphere, but also combines the two contrasting worlds in the film.
  Edwards clothing was designed by Collen Antwood, She drew influence from victorian 19th century, which is perfect for Edward’s gothic romanticism. Edward himself has become an icon for both misunderstood youth, as well as fashion. Below is an article in Harpers Bazaar based on the character. (fig 3)
(fig 3) Tim Burton inspired shoot, Harper's Bazaar

Burton, Tim (2000) Burton on Burton, Mark Salisbury, London: Faber and Faber

Esteryn, Alias (unknown) Edward Scissor Hands on http://coco.raceme.org/films/edwardscissorhands/review.php

Image List
(fig 1) Burton, Tim (1990)  Untitled (Edward Scissorhands). 1990. Pen and ink, and pencil on paper (36.2 x 22.9 cm). Private Collection. Accessed via www.filmschoolrejects.com/features/tim-burton-at-tiffs-bell-lightbox-a-ghoulish-delight.php#sthash.SzzwjPjm.dpuf

(fig 2) Still from Edward Scissor Hands (1990) via https://www.artsjournal.com/aestheticgrounds/pink_project_in_new_orleans_br/

(fig 3) Harpar’s Baazar Oct ’09 Photographer: Tim Walker via https://www.artsjournal.com/aestheticgrounds/pink_project_in_new_orleans_br/


  1. always like the way you go a bit beyond in terms of your references, Livi - folding in different disciplines etc. It's a great habit in terms of written assignments too - just going beyond the obvious and showing a bit of self-direction and curiosity :)

  2. Yep, another thorough review Livi! :)
    Just a couple of niggly points really - your font changes colour here and there, grey in places, black in others...try and keep it the same throughout!
    Also, you say 'Edward seems to be created to be the solar opposite of him'.... I think you mean the 'polar opposite'?