Into the Depps of Burton's Mind
High up on a hill overlooking suburbia lives Edward (Johnny Depp - A Nightmare on Elm Street), a near complete person created by an inventor. But before the inventor could finish Edward replacing his scissorhands with real ones he died leaving Edward a freak that lives alone. That is until Peg (Dianne Wiest - Parenthood) discovers him and takes pity on Edward, taking him to live with her and her family in suburbia. Whilst initially people warm to Edward and his creative uses for his scissor hands they soon start to fear him due to his differences, except for Peg's daughter Kim (Winona Ryder - Great Balls of Fire!) who warms to him.
There are 3 things you can say about Tim Burton's "Edward Scissorhands", the first 2 are that it is hugely entertaining and as equally memorable. The third thing is that it feels like Tim Burton is sharing a bit of himself with the audience as we have the quirky outsider Edward struggling to live in a suburban world of uniform normality. It feels like that through "Edward Scissorhands" Tim Burton is showing us how he felt growing up, the outsider, the oddball kid who didn't fit in with the conformity around him. Plus of course it is a Burton gothic fantasy, dark but amusing, beautiful yet bitter as it draws you into this quirky fairytale world.
Taken on purely face value "Edward Scissorhands" is pure quirky entertainment, from our first look at the very uniform 60s suburbia and Peg going door to door selling Avon through to the dilapidated gothic, fantasy splendour of Edward's home on the hill it makes you smile. And that smile factor threads its way throughout the movie as we watch Edward with his scissorhands having difficulty with eating, water beds and clothes whilst we meet a range of almost caricature like characters. But at the same time you have the storyline, a mix of the quirky Edward struggling to fit in, a romantic element as well as the locals fear, even prejudice of someone different. It is a beautiful fantasy with its roots in reality and whisks you along with a fairytale like quality, a gothic fairytale at that.
But there is a deeper level to "Edward Scissorhands" and that is as I mentioned it feels like Burton is sharing his experiences of being different whilst growing up. We get a 60s suburban setting full of conformity yet embellished to comic proportions and then Edward the odd kid, the one who doesn't fit in to the conformist world. You get a real sense this is how Burton felt as a child, someone who was different and didn't fit in to the prescribed world around him. As such "Edward Scissorhands" feels a remarkably personal movie but delivered in an entertaining way.
As well as giving us a look at how he felt growing up Burton also smothers "Edward Scissorhands" with great visuals and creativity. From the leather outfit which we meet Edward wearing, then the simplistic shirt and braces that Peg gives him to wear not to forget the stunning scissor fingers it just grabs your attention and doesn't let go. Even camera angles, the weird angles, the depth of view, the angular shapes it's all crafted beautifully to draw you in. It gives it that visual blend of realism but also a slice of fantasy surreal ness.
Of course at the centre of all this visual spectacular is Johnny Depp who is just stunning as Edward. Not only does Depp deliver a brilliant visual performance as he finds the right comedy from the awkwardness of having scissors for fingers but also the actual emotion of the character. You feel the fear as he meets people for the first time, the sense of wonderment when he leaves the house on the hill and is driven through the colourful houses of suburbia, the love he feels for Kim and so on. Yet all the time Depp doesn't over do the emotion keeping Edward almost emotionless, it's a clever performance of subtleties so that we get to know the character but also amused by him.
So strong is Johnny Deep's performance that despite a brilliant cast which includes Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, Vincent Price, Conchata Ferrell and Alan Arkin they are all overshadowed. But it is Winona Ryder who stands out as Kim, a part which doesn't have a huge amount of scenes but has a big influence on the storyline. Ryder does splendidly to find the right blend so we get an element of suburban conformity but with a bit of rebellion, quirkiness as she has feeling towards Edward. Plus of course those romantic moments, those lingering looks are just magical as Depp and Ryder stare into each others eyes.
What this all boils down to is that "Edward Scissorhands" is a brilliant movie which entertains from start to finish. From the creativity of Burton, the mix of a colourful 60s suburbia with the gothic ness of Edward through to the stunning performance of Johnny Depp it captures your attention and keeps you interested from start to finish with it's fairytale qualities. But at the same time it feels a very personal movie, a movie where Burton shares how he felt being the odd kid growing up during the 60s.