Movie Review: Edward Scissorhands

So last Friday, I reviewed Ed Wood. A friend saw me watching the film and asked if I saw Edward Scissorhands; I hadn’t. Just before our school’s Halloween party, I received her copy to watch for the weekend. I watched it the next day while trying to recover from a pumpkin pie hangover but that’s another story for another time.

A creation with scissors for hands is introduced to suburbia with some interesting results.

I consider this to be the best serious Burton/Depp film. I was able to emote and relate with Edward’s confusion with this new world of people and fickle societal norms. On top of that, Depp’s performance works off of silent films where actions speak louder than words. True, he does speak but only when necessary.

In fact, Edward kind of looks like Cesare from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Even some shots have that German Expressionistic feel towards the end. I remember going over this when I took Film as Art last year but I didn’t really see the connection as I hadn’t seen Edward Scissorhands yet. But now it makes a bit more sense.

The title sequence does set up the Tim Burton feel of an otherworldly set accompanied by Danny Elfman’s score. The slight rotation of the text set against some industrial elements imply that the world of Edward Scissorhands is structured but there is something slightly off about it. I even felt chills (metaphorical or literal, take your pick) and wrapped myself in a blanket when watching it, probably because of the the thick snow falling on the 20th Century Fox logo.

I didn’t know it was a Christmas film until after watching the trailers and TV spots. The score had that wintery feel to it, lonely and forlorn. That and the framing device bookending the film that seems like a relative of what was used in The Princess Bride. Then again, going with Dr. Caligari, the framing device idea is used, albeit a bit more reliable in terms of narrator.

The flashbacks to Vincent Price as The Inventor seem too brief in terms of Edward’s character development. However, the brevity is enough to get the point across as the characters in the film do not know enough about Edward and neither do we.

There’s one thing I’m still trying to figure out and that’s the butterfly motif. On the cover of the print my friend gave me, the Full Screen Anniversary Edition, a yellow butterfly sits on one of the bars used in the title. Also, the butterfly can be found on other posters for this film. I could not find a butterfly anywhere in the film itself. Aside from the butterfly’s symbolism that it’s fragile, like Edward, there is little reason to include the motif if it isn’t used within the film.

In terms of Burton’s filmography listed in the 1001, this was the better of the two (the other being Batman). I’d keep this on the list, though I can also see why Batman was included. I’d watch this again or even add this to my collection of Christmas movies. It’s Burton and Depp in one of their best.

8/10

1001 MYMSBYD selection

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