December 11, 2015

Space Oddities: Edward Scissorhands Film Review

Edward Scissorhands Film Review
Figure 1: Movie Poster 
Edward Scissorhands (1990) is a popular film by Tim Burton, which explores many topics such as modernism and alienation.
The plot of the film is simple, there is an outsider, Edward, who lives up in a dramatically gothic, black castle, at the end of a stereotypical American suburban neighbourhood and comes to live down in the neighbourhood with Pegg Boggs’ family. We watch as events of Edward being used by neighbours and him trying to fit in cause trouble for him.
"... this sweet 1990 fantasy ... for the first time crystallized the latent themes in the director's work: the notion of the artist as outsider, of skills that make one special but at the same time different." (Steve Biodrowski, 2008)
We are introduced to the two settings of the American Dream, and of Edwards castle and then we see a clash of cultures, of this alienated, different man who is man-made, and these consumer driven people who are so routine and similar that they seem like they live according to a schedule. We sympathise with Edwards’s character and not any of the people who live outside of the castle because he relates to the audience who must have gone through the human struggle of trying to fit in with the crowd. We feel sorry for him because he looks different to everyone else, and he has a severe disability and complication of having scissors for hands, and although we do not necessarily relate to that specifically, but the majority of people know somebody, have heard about or ourselves, who has some sort of disfigurement that not allows them to live quite as easily as others.
"Burton's modern fairytale has an almost palpably personal feel: it is told gently, subtly and with infinite sympathy for an outsider who charms the locals but then inadvertently arouses their baser instincts." (Marc Lee, 2014)
Lee is quite right about it being a modern take on a fairytale, it does feel very classic in its story, with an outsider who is the topic of curiosity but who is also maybe a threat or danger to everybody's mundane lives. It does feel very personal, it is told in a childlike manner, you do not have to guess twice about the plot, or look for hidden meanings. We also have this sympathy for such a charming character who is a being of innocence.

Figure 2: Film Still

But it seems in this world, when Edward first comes down to his castle, he is praised for being an outsider, and seems to find appreciation from just about everybody. Edward has a hard time adjusting to this new setting, and we long with him for the quiet sanctuary of his beautiful caste on the hill, the pastel coloured neighbourhoods often making audiences turn away from the modern, sickly pale, dull life and want to explore Edwards strange, curious and imaginative castle.
Tim burton seems to be making a mockery of the ‘American Dream’, consumerism and popular culture. He paints a picture of an average American family which is stripped of imagination, with dull, repetitive houses which only vary in colour, making it seem as if they are being individual when in reality, they all have the same basic things, and they all want to fit in. Then we see real individuality, exaggerated, expressed through Edwards truly unique castle, his looks and his personality that does not want to conform to the rules of this new structured society and we can see how true individuality should be, instead of the incredibly false individuality and freedom of the pastel suburban neighbourhood.
"It's visually pleasing and an easy film to like, even if it never gets out of shallow water as far as its story goes." (Dennis Shwartz, 2008)
In this quote by Shwartz, he describes his experience of the film not quite fulfilling as far as the story line goes, but the set design and the easily understood concept is greatly praised and makes it a very likeable film. The set design is very visual, it would not be the same just reading a description of it as it is seeing it.

Figure 3: Film Still

The set design of this film is clearly artificial and exaggerated, but it gets the point and themes across amazingly well. The neighbourhood houses are low, with sickly coloured pastel houses and matching cars. Then we see directly next to it in the most obscene contrast is Edwards castle on top of a massive black hill. It is very gothic and imposing, and it looks like a castle from a horror film.
Figure 4: Film Still, (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015]., (2015). edwardscissorhands. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].
IMDb, (2015). Edward Scissorhands (1990). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015]., (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015]., (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].

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