Directed By: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest
Tag line: "His story will touch you, even though he can't"
Trivia: The role of The Inventor was written specifically for Vincent Price
Together, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have produced some terrific films, movies that walk a fine line between reality and the surreal. For my money, their greatest collaboration was 1994’s Ed Wood, though I also love Sleepy Hollow, The Corpse Bride and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Even the duo’s less-than-stellar efforts (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows) have a stylistic flair that, on occasion, draws you into their fantastic worlds. 1990’s Edward Scissorhands marked the first time Burton and Depp joined forces, and there are those (Burton included) who believe it still ranks as one of the director’s best offerings.
Equal parts Frankenstein and Pinocchio, Edward Scissorhands tells the story of Edward (Depp), a man-made being created by an aging scientist (Vincent Price) in his castle laboratory. Unfortunately, the scientist died before finishing Edward, leaving him with sharp, scissor-like blades where his hands should be. Left alone for years in the castle, Edward is discovered one day by Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest), an AVON saleslady, who takes the young “man” home to live with her. Frightened and confused by his new surroundings, Edward is soon accepted by Peg’s family and, eventually, the citizens of their typical suburban neighborhood. Enamored with Peg’s daughter, Kim (Winona Ryder), Edward even experiences love for the first time in his life, but when a series of incidents start to turn people against him, he must decide whether to stay with the Boggs family or return to his castle, where he’ll spend eternity completely on his own.
Along with being one of the ‘90s best fantasy films, Edward Scissorhands shines a light on suburban America, a world as strange to Edward as his scissorhands are to everyone else. At first, Edward’s odd appendages make him something of a celebrity; he displays skills as a gardener (shaping ordinary shrubs into dinosaurs), and a hair stylist (working his magic on the neighborhood’s dogs before moving on to its sexually frustrated housewives). As a result, his services are always in demand. But when the novelty of his bizarre talents wears off (helped along, in part, by his naïve participation in a crime), those who openly welcomed Edward begin to fear him. Unable to adapt to a society that, sooner or later, demands conformity, the child-like Edward becomes an outcast. Only Kim continues to see Edward as the gentle soul he is, and the moments they share together are among the best the movie has to offer (the film’s most elegant scene has Edward wildly sculpting a large block of ice while Kim, who’s never seen snow before, slowly dances underneath it, the ice shavings falling all around her).
As good as some of Burton’s later works are, it’s his earliest films (Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas) that capture the true essence of a “Tim Burton movie”, a sometimes gentle blending of the mundane and the imaginary that, in the director’s capable hands, mesh together seamlessly, a feat he accomplishes time and again throughout Edward Scissorhands. A beautifully romantic tale with a very unusual lead character, Edward Scissorhands is an absolute delight.