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Film Review: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Director & Producer: Tim Burton Genre: Romantic Fantasy

Fig 1. Movie Poster Edward Scissorhands is a tale of an artificial man, living alone in a ghastly mansion overlooking a box-standard 1950s American town. When the local Avon representative decides to take her chances to make a sale in the mansion, she isnt fazed by the characters haunting image, and decides to take him home to their town, where the locals are weary of his presence, but soon begin to take a likeness for him, for the characters many talents including hair dressing and hedge cutting. Edward falls in love with the Avon representatives daughter, who has a menacing boyfriend, and Edwards innocence and good intent is abused by many people of the town and the daughters boyfriend. Edward finds himself being set up and accused for wrongdoings, and is out casted by the town, and forced out, back into his lonely mansion. The daughter, also growing feelings for Edward, protects him from the angry mob outside his home

by providing false evidence of his corpse, and his to never see him again for his own, and the towns own good. A heart-breaking fairytale.

Fig 2. Utopia The opening scene for the movie includes an insight to the daily life of the towns people, we get to see that there is an order and almost a systematic way to their living; all the men leave for work at the same time, they all mow the lawn at the same time, the design of their houses are the same, minus the color variations. This immediately sets the time period for the movie, and the sort of civilization were looking at, a very 50s vibe, where post-WW1 America economic-boom was taking place, and millions of house hold products were being sold, as people could now afford things like fridges and washing machines, dish washers, with a false sense of customization, as the houses display here, you all have the same object, but with the choice of colour. This scene also speaks for the personality of the citizens, as M.Tricks explains: Although colored in cheery, light pastels, the film portrays a 1950s era "traditional" America (down to character name choices like "Peg"), that reveals an alarming sense of homogeneity and parochial thinking.(J.Muir:2011) The idealistic, too perfect scene created is somehow too realistic, it becomes unnerving, as such order feels so unnatural and almost evil.

Fig 3. Heaven and Hell We later see the scary mansion home to Edward on a tall mountain looking over this idealistic town. The first thing to note is the bold contrast of colour, the dark scary greys to the light hearted pastel colours. Both of these different homes represent the appearance of the characters; the towns people also dress in pastel colours of the 50s fashion, and Edward is dressed in dark gloomy colours. This visual is a cue to how the exterior of the characters appear, yet the story and plot of the film reveals the true intent of the characters, and also the eerie affect to the towns reveals that there is something lingering beneath their friendly masks. When we see Edward in this pastel paradise for the first time, it is apparent that he doesn't belong: his wild, dark and frightening appearance contrasting against the immaculate, sweetly colored people and homes of the suburbs. It's an ironic contrast too, as both of these 'worlds' reflect feelings and thoughts that should not associated with them - as Edward is a goodhearted person, whereas the people of the suburbs are unkind and intolerant. (M.Tricks:2006) The clashing of the two worlds is interesting, as the clear visual of displacement of Edward in the film clearly expresses the stress and discomfort of not being able to meet the social norms, and expresses how others people view those who do not meet the norm, and also how the person may become to view themselves as a result. M. Prates expresses: Edward himself is a stunning creation, with a blackish cupid's-bow mouth and plaintive expression to offset his fright hairdo, abundant scars and potentially lethal hands.(M.Prates:2012) The make up and design for Edward won awards for producing such a unique character, who looks very menacing and dangerous, but from the scenery he lives in, it begins to express his character, and we get a indepth look at who he really is.

Fig 4. The Monsters Lair When the Avon saleslady enters the threatening mansion, we are overwhelmed with the pure beauty of the home, and are reassured from what is created that the character can surely not be evil, as the contents of the odd and scary, unknown place is but warm and beautiful on the inside, with bright lightening to stress the good intent and the vibrant colours that give a real sense of creativity and kindness. Another scene of interest was the factory in which the character Edward is created, also goes on to explain how something so frightening has good intent.

Fig 5. The Facotry

In the story, the character is made from one of the parts of machinery within this factory. The factory is covered in cobwebs, with dim lighting, little colour in the scene, it all seems very daunting, yet, it produces Christmas cookies. The cobwebs suggest the isolation from other contact and care, yet all of the machines seem to have a face, a personality, like it is longing, somehow, for attention. It all continues to stress how something that seems so scary and unknown has nothing but good intent, despite the scary outlook it gives. Edward Scissorhandss creator Tim Burton managed to create such a successful story from the scenes alone, about the stresses of being the outcast, even with good intent, will be misjudged and the difficulties of trying to fit in is made impossible by those judging you. A truly touching story, one that will always manage to move people, as the contents may become out dated, and the design-look becomes over used, the visual messages are too strong to be overlooked.

Bibliography: M. Tricks (2006) Edward Scissorhands in: [online] at: (accessed 25/11/2012) Mike Prates (2012) Edward Scissorhands in: [online] at: (accessed 25/11/2012) John Muir (2011) Edward Scissorhands in: [online]

at: (accessed 25/11/2012)

Illustrations: Fig 1: Movie Poster (film poster) (accessed 25/11/2012) Fig 2: Utopia (film still) 25/11/2012) Fig 3: Heaven and Hell (Film Still) 25/11/2012) Fig 4: Monsters Lair (Film Still) 25/11/2012) Fig 5: The Factory (film still) 25/11/2012)

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