This endearing story is brought to us by the incomparable Tim Burton, with his magical contemporary Danny Elfman for music . The idea for this creation came from a sketch Burton himself had drawn when he was 19, a man with scissors for hands. (below) Burton commissioned Caroline Thompson ( a young novelist ) to write the screenplay for Edward Scissorhands – (she later worked with him on The Nightmare Before Christmas too) . Burton said the idea “came subconsciously & was linked to a character who wants to touch but cant, who was both creative and destructive” , “it had to do with relationships, the feeling that your image and how people perceive you are at odds with whats inside you”. He wanted to show up to his meeting with Disney saying, here’s the piece, the script, the cast and the storyboards as he felt that when you pitch them a near completed object its easier to work them away from making creative changes. His sketches showcased the Edward in the beginning and then the attempted civilized Edward.
The neighbourhood was based on Burtons old one “Burbank” (where he grew up), he said “There was a certain kind of vagueness, a blankness, growing up in suburbia was like growing up in a place where there’s no sense of history, culture or passion for anything”. This was something he wanted to portray visually in the film. Though the set may seem too fantastical, most of the story is meant to be seen through Edwards eyes, so your seeing a slightly edited version of what the reality likely is. As any kind of colour juxtaposed with Edwards previous state of darkness would come across as such.
Burton met Johnny Depp for the first time in a coffee shop and spent several hours discussing life, interests and of course; the role – Burton said that immediately he knew Depp would be perfect for the role since he found the character in his eyes “I like people’s eyes a lot and Johnny had these really expressive eyes that were perfect for a character like this who doesn’t really speak, eyes are really important” . Seeing him longing for Kim really pulls at your heart strings . Interestingly, Edwards character was actually one of the inspirations for the character of “Eleven” in Netflix’s “Stranger Things”. For the insane amount of emotional connection you have to Edward its shocking to learn that he only actually says 169 words throughout the entire movie.
The story begins as a narrated childrens tale, with an old woman telling her granddaughter a night-time tale . “The film can also be seen as Burton’s version of Beauty & the Beast, a Fairytale bookended by a prologue and an epilogue featuring Winona Ryder as an old woman telling her granddaughter the story of Edward”. T. Burton
We see the pastel world juxtaposed with the dark mysterious colours of the castle in which Edward resides (in nearly all Tim Burton films, there is a castle on a hill.) A gothic looking, intrigue-inspiring haunted mansion.
Like in other Burton films, you find yourself transported into another world . Set Design staff deserve some serious pats on the back, as expected in a Burton creation, so much emphasis on the detail-oriented visual style of the film. The cinematography along with set design and the direction immerse you further into this world.
Another near-constant feature in Burtons creations is the ominous but ornate doorways / porches. (See Dark Shadows)
When Peg finds Edward – we see his isolation and alienation from the rest of the world – Burton seems to like the use of Attics – they present themselves as solitary. “Theres a sense of isolation in the attic . Symbolically i associate it with isolation, but its also a reaction against the suburban home in some ways – it was always a desire to be up, out or away, & in an environment that was not white like being inside a shoebox.” T. Burton.
Some friendships – another regular Burton feature that he deploys in his films, a boy and his dog. (for example : Jack and Zero (The Nightmare Before Christmas), Victor and Scraps (Corpse Bride), Frankenstein and Sparky… (Frankenweenie) to name a few..)
We’ve got some cute car rides.
& Some handy juvenille skills.
The origin of the idea that made everything possible. the actor below portraying the Creator of Edward Scissorhands was played by the late great Vincent Price. Price was an idol of Burton’s and got cast as the father-figure of Edward. After finishing filming this, and with Price’s passing, Burton went on to direct a documentary about him called “Conversations with Vincent.” Back to the film excuse the slight tangent.
We see an exploration of some affectionate moments, Burton wanted to explore the depths of a man who felt at odds wit the rest of the ‘normal world’ & an outsider character with immense complexities. A challenge i think he rose to.
We luckily get to see some Burton-original sketches that they put into the movie montage showing us the layers to Edwards construction.
Along with some beautifully memorable moments of cinema.
So dig in – the movie may seem a far stretch from reality but the theme of alienation and not being able to convey / communicate what you wish too are pretty easily relatable. It’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face and enthrall you. Its a bit of nostalgia and fairytale mixed with the most perfectly Eflman score.