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Edward Scissorhands

A 1990 movie directed by Tim Burton.

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"Hold me."

  • May 23, 2012
**** out of ****

An old woman with a raspy voice tells her grandchild a bedtime story on a snowy night about the strange, abandoned Gothic castle that rests on a hill that can be clearly seen by just about any house in town. She explains that in the castle lives a man named Edward (Johnny Depp); but not just any man. Edward has the peculiar advantage and disadvantage of having scissors for hands. This is the result of an unfinished experiment conducted by an aging inventor (Vincent Price, in his final film appearance), who dies before Edward is complete. One day, unsuccessful Avon saleswoman Peg Boggs (Diane Wiest) stumbles upon the estate, looking for business, and discovers Edward huddling in the corner. Instead of being frightened by his deformities and the cuts that cover a good portion of his face, Peg chooses to take him back home with her out of the goodness of her heart, since she can't just leave him there. She introduces Edward to her family - husband Bill (Alan Arkin), son Kevin, and daughter Kim (Winona Ryder) - the latter of the bunch being whom he ultimately falls for on sight, even though Kim has a current boyfriend (albeit an incredibly obnoxious and boring one).

Edward finds his way into the neighborhood community. He is especially popular amongst the lonely housewife crowd. He starts by putting his scissor-hands to good use by trimming hedges into creative and imaginative shapes, which turns into haircuts for doggies and humans alike, which then turns into unexpected fame for Ed. Even though he's starting to fit in little by little, there's always those darned scissor hands, always getting the poor guy into trouble even when he isn't looking for it (and he rarely is). One of the housewives attempts to seduce Edward in one scene and he uses the blades that he calls his fingers to escape from the scene before it goes any further. He never means any harm, but controversy comes his way. Initially, his most unforgiving critic is the neighborhood religious loony.

Tim Burton uses fairy tale logic to tell the story of "Edward Scissorhands". A man always devoted to his vision and visual style, Burton is not new to this method of storytelling, and his screenwriter Caroline Thompson is able to bring the characters and story that he himself envisioned to the screen. And if she's not the one responsible, she at least helped (by presumably writing the dialogue as well as her share of situations). But Burton's touch is impossible to miss; the neighborhood basically prolific and recognizable merely in the way that it looks, the castle on the hill very dark and Gothic indeed, and Edward's initial attire resembling S&M gear. These are what I call "typical Tim Burton flourishes". And I believe that a film from the director can get along just by having these things, they are the bare essentials, and a lot of the time that's all you need to be entertained. But at the same time, "Edward Scissorhands" is more than just a delight for the eyes and the imagination.

The thing about the picture that resonates with me the most is the titular character himself. Edward is a sympathetic individual that not only represents a big part of Burton in his younger years, but also someone on the Asperger's/Autism spectrum. Being an Aspie myself, I tend to notice metaphors for such a social disorder, and "Edward Scissorhands" is full of them. Edward struggles in various social situations and has a lot of trouble showing his true feelings and emotions, although he cares deeply for Kim whenever he is given the chance to show it. In the last act, his actions are grossly misunderstood by the masses and the story becomes sort of a "Frankenstein" type parable, with angry mobs and the inclusion of even angrier jealous jock boyfriends. The world may never be ready for Edward - this is made clear by the end - but his presence left an impact on all those who once acknowledged him. I think that's how a lot of neurotypicals feel about the Aspies that they've come across and gotten to know quite well. The thing oozes with poetry in the ways that it evokes such thoughts, and therein lies the brilliance of the film.

It could have easily become the sort of derivative pairing of Depp and Burton that have been made of recent. Depp alone has become more of a character/attitude actor who keeps sleepwalking through the same role over and over again, although here he's given more emotional weight and you actually care about the guy. He hasn't had a performance quite like this, where he's supposed to portray a socially awkward individual and pull it off so flawlessly and mercilessly. You'd have to be heartless for Edward NOT to win you over. Throughout the feature, he makes you laugh (the scene where Bill gets him drunk is pretty funny), cry (the last act, oh God), and feel things you might have never felt before in your life. Long story short, this film holds a very special place in the hearts of many, including mine, and I think that's why it has garnered such a large and expansive following over the years. And think of it, more than half the audience that appreciates it so much probably didn't spot the cleverly placed Asperger's parables.

Imaginative, sad, and unforgettable; "Edward Scissorhands" is a timeless classic of modern cinema. A fairy tale for grown-ups, a suburban fantasy with serious satirical and dramatic bite, and just a highly personal piece for Burton overall; the film is what I would define as art, in its most true and simple form. There aren't many complexions to the story once you've really figured it out, but for what the metaphors are trying to say, it's surprisingly very true to life. There's something about Edward that I think we can all relate to, since the film gives us PLENTY of situations to choose from, and Burton draws him out as a full-fledged and understandable human being. Oh, how I wish Burton wasn't so often a victim of the studios and allowed to make expressive features like this yet again. Maybe someday he'll get his chance to release his feelings into the air so freely and effortlessly like he once did. He's had his ups and downs, but I prefer to think more about the ups, for obvious reasons. Burton can be down-right brilliant when he really puts his mind to it. I'd say "Edward Scissorhands", as charming yet dark as it is, should be sufficient enough proof of that.

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May 25, 2012
Terrific review of a movie that richly deserves your insightful praise. Very well done.
More Edward Scissorhands reviews
review by . November 12, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Nothing choppy about this movie.
I think the first time i saw this movie i was maybe 12 years old and i thought it was the coolest thing EVER! Back then i thought it was so cool because of Edward, i mean the guy had scissors for hands and was permanently dressed in a black bodysuit. And then i found the movie a few years ago at my local used movie store, and after i watched it again i still thought the movie was the coolest thing ever but for different reasons. Like many other of Burton's films this one is a obscure love story …
Quick Tip by . January 03, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Supremely disappointing. It had the potential of being the metaphor for late 20th century man where you can love but touching is potentially fatal (AIDS still had no effective treatment). Instead it's a bland fairy tale of middling angst.
review by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This movie is a classic. It is a tale about a man who was not born but created, yet remains unfinished. For most of his life he has lived in a castle, but after a chance meeting with a makeup saleswoman, is brought to a classic suburban neighborhood. From there events unfold that must be witnessed to be understood. All through this is the underlying message about forcing change on people and understanding. It is a fantastic movie, a classic Tim Burton movie, and is fun for all ages. I recommend …
Quick Tip by . July 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Great movie I think this movie is great for kids to watch too, but it might seem kinda of scary at first!
Quick Tip by . July 21, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
One of Burton's masterpieces. great cinematography, and wonderful story.
Quick Tip by . July 21, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Even though I thought the movie could of had more story and meaning it was still good.
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Tim Burton's finest creation of the 90's, back when he did more original screenplays. Creepy yet heartwarming to say the least.
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
this movie is beautiful and cute and it's one of my favourites
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Another amazing role that Johnny Depp made better. I also have a crush on Winona--and don't care that she's a shoplifter.
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This is a great modern fairy tale. Depp and Ryder do some of their best work.
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


Edward Scissorhands is a 1990 comedy-drama fantasy film directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp. The film tells the story of an artificial man named Edward, an unfinished creation, who has scissors for hands. Edward is taken in by a suburban family and falls in love with their teenage daughter Kim. Supporting roles are portrayed by Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, Kathy Baker, Alan Arkin and Vincent Price.

Burton conceived the idea for Edward Scissorhands from his childhood upbringing in suburban Burbank, California. During pre-production of Beetlejuice, Caroline Thompson was hired to adapt Burton's story into a screenplay, and the film began development at 20th Century Fox, after Warner Bros. passed on the project. Edward Scissorhands was then fast tracked after Burton's success with Batman. Before Depp's casting, the leading role of Edward had been connected to Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Robert Downey, Jr. and William Hurt, while the role of The Inventor was written specifically for Vincent Price.

The majority of filming took place in the Tampa Bay Area of Florida, which generated over $6 million for the local economy. Edward's scissor hands were created and designed by Stan Winston. The film is also the fourth feature collaboration between Burton and film score composer Danny Elfman. Edward Scissorhands was released with positive feedback from critics, and was a financial success. The film received numerous nominations at the Academy ...
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