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How Edward Scissorhands Explores Social Concerns Relevant to Audiences Today

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Burton’s auteuristic style has been successfully emphasised in many of his productions. Within his films, he has demonstrated his capability of exploring important social concerns that are relevant to audiences today through effectively utilising film techniques. Burton’s 1990 film, Edward Scissorhands, is a contemporary archetype of the gothic genre that explores themes such as the idea of forced conformity, struggles as an indifferent individual, and the harsh realities of love. Altogether, Burton’s Edward Scissorhands successfully accentuate important social concerns through his sophisticated utilisation of film techniques.

Similar to other films, Edward Scissorhands revolves around the theme of love. It explores the consequences and realities of a romantic relationship. An example of a scene that exhibits this idea is when Edward constructs an ice sculpture of an angel as Kim slow-dances with snow beside him. Props (categorised under mise-en-scene) is used to convey symbolism. Edward expresses his affection towards Kim by making an angel ice sculpture, a representation of her. He sees her as the light and inspiration, however, due to his differences, he struggles to express his feelings and show affection. Facial expressions (characterisation in mise-en-scene) is used to show Kim’s face of delight and amusement. As Kim dances with joy, it represents her setting aside her prejudices towards Edward and accepting him for who he is. Snow is a motif in the film, symbolising purity and innocence, and in this scene, the blissful and angelic love. Important social concerns are explored in Edward Scissorhands through Burton’s effective utilisation of film techniques.

Furthermore, the idea of internal struggles is well established throughout the film. It explores the struggles as an indifferent individual that leads to important realisations. This idea is shown within a dialogue (diegetic sound) between Edward and Kim.

“Kim: Hug me.

Edward: I can’t.”

This highlights the struggle Edward’s been through as an indifferent individual. He realises that he tends to unintentionally harm everyone and everything he cares about and is afraid to do so to Kim. Leading to Edward resenting himself and unable to accept himself. This is shown again when Edward vindictively looks at his reflection in the mirror (reflective surfaces in German expressionism) after accidentally hurting Kim when Jim alarms him. He abhors and loathes himself for harming his beloved ones and struggles to accept himself. This reflects on the influence society has on an entity.

The theme of conformity has been apparent throughout the film. It focuses on the idea of forced conformity and the negative effects of it. Burton’s demonization of the suburbia has been evident through a panning shot (camera movement) of the ‘cookie-cutter’ suburbs from Edward’s mansion. The juxtaposition of the pastel colour of suburbia and Edward’s dark and gothic mansion exemplifies society and its inability to accept difference and non-conformity. The final long-shot (camera shot) of Edward along in the garden, surrounded by nature and creativity, and room for imagination, underlines Burton’s central message that society seeks to normalise difference and is too narrow-minded to cope with ones who do not conform. And through the process of conformity, one can lose their identity and purpose.

In conclusion, through Burton’s sophisticated utilisation of film techniques in Edward Scissorhands, he has successfully explored social concerns that are relevant to audiences today. While also conveying important messages such as the importance of accepting our differences and the importance of leaving our prejudice to the side. 

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How Edward Scissorhands Explores Social Concerns Relevant To Audiences Today. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 28, 2022, from
“How Edward Scissorhands Explores Social Concerns Relevant To Audiences Today.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021,
How Edward Scissorhands Explores Social Concerns Relevant To Audiences Today. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 Sept. 2022].
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