Tuesday, 3 November 2015

SPACE ODDITIES: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Fig.1. 'Edward Scissorhands' Poster

Tim Burton's, 1990 critically acclaimed, 'Edward Scissorhands'. A modern fairytale, magical and full of wonder. Full of gothic undertones within the use of costume, set design and acting. To this day 'Edward Scissorhands' shines through the brand of Tim Burton, citing it as one of his favourites, epitomizing his most personal work.

Fig.2. Film Still
It is evident from the get go that Tim Burton's imagination has run rampant, conjuring up characters and locations that nobody would every dream of placing together. A very harsh aesthetic at times. A juxtaposition that shows a mundane, pastel coloured american neighbourhood. A mainstream, highly commercialised way of living. The inhabitants act like sheep, they follow one another if something different is happening within their street. Flocking at street corners at the mere sight of change. 

'The movie takes place in an entirely artificial world, where a haunting gothic castle crouches on a mountaintop high above a storybook suburb, a goofy sitcom neighbourhood where all of the houses are shades of pastels and all the inhabitants seem to emotional clones of the jetsons' (Ebert, 1990)

It's this contrast of both light and dark that creates a greater sense of depth and character within the story. Edward, played by Johnny Depp is an outcast, just like the castle in which he lives, in comparison to the suburb in which the leading troop of female characters. The locations works as metaphors for the characters, they are direct representations  that show their personalities and characteristics.

Fig.3. Film Still

'It involves bright colours in unlikely combination, for instance, a lavender-suited Avon lady driving a dandelion-yellow car) and fashionably ridiculous late-1950's artifacts placed prominently throughout the characters' bunker like homes. On the lawns of these houses, more and more of Edward's singular topiaries -- in the forms of a ballerina, a penguin, a set of bowling pins and so on -- behind to appear.' (Maslin, 1990)
Edward, as an outcast begins to make his mark on the streets that his mountain top domain have towered over for years. At first he is seen as an eccentric figure, the created has become the creator. His sculptures are masterpieces within the bland social community. The inhabitants have not seen creativity like this until his arrival, its a complete shock to the system. His skills are praised to begin with but slowly he is turned into a monster.

Fig.3. Film Still

'Edward, who is wrapped from head to toe in shiny, spiked leather, has a bit of a punk look to him; he's like an angelic version of Sid Vicious. At the same time, he couldn't be less threatening. He almost never says anything, and when he does, the voice that comes out is shockingly soft and delicate, full of a child's serene wonder. Edward's true eloquence can be found in his eyes. They're black-rimmed and wounded, full of ghostly awareness, and the more you look into them the more you could swear he was about to cry' (Gleiberman, 1990)
His has the appearance of a monster, yet he comes across as a humble, child-like character. If you compare Edward to the inhabitants of the American suburb shown in the movie, aesthetically he looks like monster compared to everybody else. But this film proves that it is what is on the inside that counts. As a viewer you would expect an animalistic, theatrically monster-like voice, but we are greeted with a voice of a calming nature. 
The inhabitants on the other hand, visually we familiarise ourselves with them, yet they are the ones that come across as monsters, they're constant ear piercing voices. Nonstop chatter, question after question after question. The chance for anybody else to speak will never come, we are bombarded by a horde of everyday humans and their unwillingness to see change. 

What this review is trying to say is, the visuals in this film can work for each character. If the residents looked like Edward and he looked like them. The film would be the same, Edward would still be the outsider within the story. He would be different. Where he is from would be different and the way in which he lives would not be in the routine of the new location that his has been thrown into.


Ebert, R (1990) 'Edward Scissorhands' At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/edward-scissorhands-1990 Accessed on: 03/11/2015

Gleiberman, O (1990) 'Edward Scissorhands' At: http://www.ew.com/article/1990/12/07/edward-scissorhands Accessed on: 03/11/2015

Maslin, J (1990) 'Edward Scissorhands' At: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9C0CE2D81338F934A35751C1A966958260 Accessed on: 03/11/2015


Figure 1. 'Edward Scissorhands (1990)' [Movie Poster] At: http://www.impawards.com/1990/edward_scissorhands_ver1.html 

Figure 2. [Film Still] At: http://cdn3.lomography.com/87/e056eca4d0100a8b481ddf15096a4bca93f0c0/1000x544x2.jpg?auth=8568326a9ed48bca54ec9f01b45147a90542cbe7

Figure 3. [Film Still] At: http://cdn.moviestillsdb.com/sm/7531b06dee2df26d718959444b36a8f3/edward-scissorhands.jpg


  1. Interesting review Tom - 'The locations works as metaphors for the characters, they are direct representations that show their personalities and characteristics.' Very well said :)

    I'm not sure about your final paragraph though; it seems a little ungainly and garbled. I think I know what you are trying to say, but it is just a little muddled. Other than that, very nice!

    1. Thank you, Jackie - Yes, that final paragraph is a bit of a mosh pit of words. I did have something in mind when I was writing it but I guess I just couldn't get the correct wording for it.