Reviews: Edward Scissorhands

The Best of Burton

The fact that the only thing most people know about this film is that Edward has scissor hands is criminal.

This movie is, in a word, beautiful. Tim Burton tells stories like no other, and when they're simpler tales like this and Nightmare, he absolutely excels at finding the nuance and heart, plus putting a monstrous Gothic twist on it. Basically, it's got beats of Frankenstein (the book), with the premise being "what if a gentle-hearted soul who happens to be a slasher-type monster was introduced into society?" The story itself is refreshingly honest and realistic in its plausible beats and tone, and the truthfulness of what goes on makes it such a good story. It uncovers a lot of complexity about relations with "unusual" people, though by the end it seems more like a parable about mental rather than physical disability. Basically, it says that there's no perfect answer to some things, that understanding isn't always complete, and that's really interesting.

Edward is an incomplete man-made man with multiple deadly scissors for hands, taken in by a kind makeup saleslady and brought into suburban life, where he makes friends, falls in love, and faces adversity. This film could have easily been purely comedic, but they don't abuse the titular gimmick as such, and go for a very effective dramatic tone instead. Not to go too deep, but the ending itself is also very powerful and genuinely not typical. Sure, the film is exaggerated, but it never feels too unrealistic, and the tone is about right for this kind of story.

Also, I have never felt quite as hooked all the way through a film. It's endlessly charming and it taps into all the right reactions and gets you invested.

Also, what a fantastic Burton debut for Johnny Depp. Say what you will about him as a person, but his Edward is fantastically played. Awkward and shy, yet artistic and soulful, purely innocent, but mostly silent, you get so so much out of the character, and he's honestly adorable as well. Just his face and body language alone are enough to carry the story, and just the little touches like the way he walks and "runs" really make him feel developed.

The scissor hands themselves deserve a credit in the opening titles. Really cool practical props, and surprisingly functional considering the fact that they are genuinely used for several shots. There's also a Burtonian Rube Goldberg machine, which is something I never knew I needed in my life.

If you want to see a beautiful, artistic, "feels"-heavy film with a creepy edge, look no further. This is an instant favorite for me.