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Review: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Directed by: Tim Burton

Premise: A suburban family takes in a gentle young man who was built in a lab and has scissors for hands. As Edward (Johnny Depp) becomes a part of the community, his differences make him a local celebrity and later an outcast.

What Works: Edward Scissorhands captures everything Tim Burton does well. The story is a contemporary fairy tale and draws on fantasy, horror, and comedy to create a deeply affecting story. Burton has generally focused on characters who are outsiders that are psychologically damaged but have some kind of redeeming or tragic quality. The character of Edward, played by Johnny Depp, captures this extraordinarily well as a young man who yearns for love and a human connection but is forever impaired. And yet his impairment is also the source of his greatest talent, as Edward is able to create works of art with his scissor hands. The story capitalizes on this tension and plays it out for maximum effect. Burton has a consistent style to his films and over the years he has sometimes taken it to excessive degrees that become distracting. In Edward Scissorhands the style is right on, as it creates a credible looking suburbia that viewers can believe in, but its perfection has a sterility about it that makes Edward’s creativity a welcome relief. Edward Scissorhands continues the relationship between Burton and composer Danny Elfman and the film includes one of Elfman’s best music scores. The film also has the distinction of featuring one of legendary horror actor Vincent Price’s final performances as Edward’s creator.

What Doesn’t: A few elements of the film have not aged as well. Although most of the film holds up just fine, a few of the composite shots are a little dated.

DVD extras: Commentary tracks, featurettes, trailer, TV spots, and concept art.

Bottom Line: Edward Scissorhands is Tim Burton’s masterwork. The film captures what the director does right and balances its meld of fantasy and reality better than any other picture he has done.

Episode: #290 (March 14, 2010)