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Once upon a time in a castle high on a hill lived an inventor whose greatest creation was named Edward. Although Edward had an irresistible charm, he wasn't quite perfect. The inventor's sudden death left him unfinished, with sharp shears of metal for hands. Edward lived alone in the darkness until one day a kind Avon lady took him home to live with her family. And so began Edward's fantastical adventures in a pastel paradise known as Suburbia.
Edward Scissorhands achieves the nearly impossible feat of capturing the delicate flavor of a fable or fairy tale in a live-action movie. The story follows a young man named Edward (Johnny Depp), who was created by an inventor (Vincent Price, in one of his last roles) who died before he could give the poor creature a pair of human hands. Edward lives alone in a ruined Gothic castle that just happens to be perched above a pastel-colored suburb inhabited by breadwinning husbands and frustrated housewives straight out of the 1950s. One day, Peg (Dianne Wiest), the local Avon lady, comes calling. Finding Edward alone, she kindly invites him to come home with her, where she hopes to help him with his pasty complexion and those nasty nicks he's given himself with his razor-sharp fingers. Soon Edward's skill with topiary sculpture and hair design make him popular in the neighborhood--but the mood turns just as swiftly against the outsider when he starts to feel his own desires, particularly for Peg's daughter Kim (Winona Ryder). Most of director Tim Burton's movies (such as Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman) are visual spectacles with elements of fantasy, but Edward Scissorhands is more tender and personal than the others. Edward's wild black hair is much like Burton's, suggesting that the character represents the director's own feelings of estrangement and co-option. Johnny Depp, making his first successful leap from TV to film, captures Edward's childlike vulnerability even while his physical posture evokes horror icons like the vampire in Nosferatu and the sleepwalker in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Classic horror films, at their heart, feel a deep sympathy for the monsters they portray; simply and affectingly, Edward Scissorhands lays that heart bare. --Bret Fetzer
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This is the surreal fable of a young man who was built, not born, and whose creator dies before he can finish him, leaving him alone, with scissors for hands. He’s found and adopted by a sweet, if slightly daffy Avon lady – Diane Weist in another of an endless series of brilliant supporting performances. She takes young orphan Edward down from the near black and white castle in which the lives to the bright pastel world of the suburban town below. (A world almost as surreal in it’s exaggerated way as his lonely castle.
There the outcast finds a place, and maybe even love, but is there really room for the truly different in our society? A film in which everything is bigger than life, but infused with heart and the bitter-sweetness of life itself. It brings a smile to my face, and tears to my eyes on every viewing.
But while the charm endures for a time, the clever ideas begin to run short in a necessarily more worldly second act. In particular, Edward’s supposed fascination with Winona Ryder’s Kim is critically underdone. The backstory segments seem thin, as though they were an afterthought. And Burton over the later stretches seems more interested in expedience than art — getting this now-ungainly creation to its icy end.
The which, sad to say, lacks the intended joyful feel. Rather, it’s a manipulative effect at the end of a half-great film that hasn’t quite earned it.
Great cast of characters here. If I could change anything it'd probably be Winona Ryder's terrible bleach job here... ack. What an injustice to her dark yet doe-eyed beauty. I wish they'd given her black hair instead.
Still fun to watch after all these years!