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Review of Tim Burton’s Film Edward Scissorhands

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Only so many things have the privilege of being consider masterpieces, but Tim Burton’s filmography including Beetlejuice (1988), A Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), and Batman (1989) are a collection of masterpieces. 1990’s Edward Scissorhands is no exception. This movie is a riveting cinematic and artistic achievement. It is a take on the classic story of Frankenstein, and it challenges the ideas of everyday society. Burton’s interpretation and perception of monsters and the horror genre is mesmerizing. This movie is extraordinary because of its fantastic use of color, sound, and its employment of social commentary. Edward Scissorhands tells the story of a man created by an inventor (Vincent Price) who tragically dies before he has time to finish him, leaving Edward with scissors for hands, as the title suggests. He is taken from the mansion he lives in by the local Avon lady, Peg Boggs (Dianna Wiest), and is brought into her suburban family that includes her husband Bill (Alan Arkin), daughter Kim (Winona Ryder), and son Kevin (Robert Oliveri). Edward falls in love with Kim and experiences all the emotions that come with first love, and he quickly becomes a celebrity in the neighborhood until they eventually drive him back to isolation.

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The use of color in Edward Scissorhands is very remarkable, and it is one of the best in filmography. Burton draws a very defined line between Edward and the town by making one void and desaturated of color and the other highly painted and saturated. One of the early scenes in the movie shows the town with its plethora of houses, each with a different color. The residents are all wearing very bright and colorful outfits, but when you look at Edwards character design, such as the dull color of his skin, his dark hair, his black leather body suit, and just overall the atmosphere that surrounds him and his scissor hands, there is a big difference. Even the abandoned mansion, where Edward lives, with its jagged edges is clearly meant to contrast with the cookie cutter suburban streets. When Edward is brought into this new environment it is clear that the color variation is supposed to convey just how different Edward is from what is perceived as normal, and the absence of color for Edward continues throughout the entire film. Written by composer Danny Elfman, the soundtrack of the movie helps to establish Edward’s character. Its pensive elements put a spotlight on Edward’s experience trying to integrate himself into the society. During the opening scene of the movie, cheerful go lucky music is playing when you see the town, which leads you to perceive it as this perfect utopia, but the music turns eerie when we have a first look at the abandoned mansion where Edward resides. The music also works to show how far Edward is from normality, which is a theme explored throughout the movie, and how when he is first introduced to the society he is seen as this menacing figure because he is different, and difference always evokes fear. Ironically so, the town is later shown to be far more menacing than Edward is.

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The social commentary in Edward Scissorhands is brilliant. The collection of characters each in their own right, help reveal the broken suburban life. For example, Esmeralda (O-Lan Jones) demonstrates the fanaticism of religion and how it can give rise to fears which leads to intolerance and judgment. When Esmeralda first met Edward, or should I say saw him then proceeded to run away after she said, “It’s not heaven he’s from. He’s from the stinking flames of hell. The power of Satan is in him, I can feel it…”, she isn’t very welcoming and encourages the town to follow in her footsteps. Although some would see that Edward Scissorhands plot is underdeveloped, it delivers pure magic, like lightening in a bottle, that is very rare to capture. Overall, this movie was tremendous, and if any Tim Burton film should serve as a hallmark to define his career as a director, it should be Edward Scissorhands. It is a creative masterpiece. The target audience for this film are young adults because while it is a fairy tale, it showcases ideas that may be too dark for a younger audience. People who have seen some of Burton’s early work such as Beetlejuice will be interested because it’s kind of the same perception of horror in both movies. I would recommend this movie because I everyone should have a chance to see how movies should be made.

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Review Of Tim Burton’s Film Edward Scissorhands. (2021, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 10, 2023, from
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