Monday, 14 November 2011

Film Review: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands (1990) is a classic 'fitting in with the crowd whilst still being different' story with a lot of sharp edged blades and a rather unnecessary murder.
Fig 1: Edward Scissorhands Poster

The movie starts out with an old woman narrating a story to her grand daughter. It then progresses into a story that holds a striking resemblance to the TV Show Kyle XY where a working mother (who conveniently happens to be an AVON company sales representative-the reason for which shall become evident shortly) goes to a Gothic mansion that sticks out like a sore thumb in the middle of a stereotypical 80's American Suburbia after being with several unsuccessful clients in an attempt to make a potential sale.

Fig 2: The Mansion of Edward Scissorhands

 The minute details that suggest a skilled topiary artist at work with imaginative creatures and dream lands being sculpted. That also shows that the ideas of the artist grew as they aged.
This mother; known better as Peg Boggs stumbles upon a pale boy (played by Johnny Depp) who lives in the mansion and has scissors for hands. His name is Edward and his last name is (funnily enough) Scissorhands. She takes him home after taking one look at the skin on his face, which is scarred with scissor cuts and nurses his wounds.
Edward settles in with the Boggs and is yet to meet his predictable female companion in the film, who is the Boggs' daughter Kim.
He displays his talents by cutting the hedges of the Boggs' garden and soon fills the entire marzipan coloured neighborhood with dramatic topiary.

Fig 3: The Topiary in the Scissorhands' garden

He soon moves onto hair dressing and dog grooming. What really serves as the cherry on the icing is when Edward begins carving ice sculptures that are about ten feet high.
One thing that is obvious in the movie is that one does not question where the material for Edwards 'artwork' comes from. The massive hedges for sculpture in gardens with tiny blades of grass or the gigantic blocks of ice that just park themselves in the back garden of the house.
This movie imparts the message that a person who is considered a 'freak' by society, ends up being the one that brings about the best for that very society. People do not like change. They seek comfort in uniformity and when there is a shift in their idea of balance, there is conflict. As reviewers Frederic and Mary Ann Bessant state, "Fairy tales such as Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Jack in the Beanstalk help us to see that it is important to wrestle with our feelings of self-worth, fear, helplessness, and justice."- Brussat, Frederic and Mary Ann.(1990).Spirituality and Practice: Film review.
Those deemed to be superiors in the society (such as Kim's rich boyfriend in the movie), despise them for being present as they consider them to be a threat.

Fig 4: Edward sculpting the Boggs in hedges

This movie probably focuses on what most people go through in terms of emotional conflict during the course of their lives.
There is also a short bit where Burton shows the misuse of the term 'rape' by a woman.
The plot is a tragic love story between a beast and a beauty and how they are star crossed.
The focus of compromise and sacrifice is large. It gives humanity hope to think about these things occurring in actuality.
There is definitely a lot of contrast in terms of Edward's dark KISS character design which reviewer Robert Ring says to "..also works to establish his character and his mysterious nature" as opposed to the Beverly Hills:90210 feel of the rest of the casts'.- Ring, Robert. (2008). Sci-Fi Block.Edward Scissorhands (1990).
There are also many references to Tim Burton's other film characters. Most striking would be Jack Skellington, whose silhouette is used prominently in the film.
More so, the character of Edward Scissorhands is one that almost anyone can relate to due to his innocent face and pure childlike intentions that are recreated beautifully by Johnny Depp. As reviewer Brian Skutle says,"With few words, and with all movement and expression, Depp portrays Edward as a misunderstood artist who is capable of creating great beauty"- Skutle, Brian. Scissorhands (1990)A+

Bibliography and Illustration List


Brussat, Frederic and Mary Ann.(1990).Spirituality and Practice: Film review. Film review: Edward Scissorhands. Available online at

(Accessed on 15th November 2011)

Ring, Robert. (2008). Sci-Fi Block.Edward Scissorhands (1990). Available online at (Accessed on 15th November 2011)

Skutle, Brian. Scissorhands (1990)A+ Available online at (Accessed on 15th November 2011)

Illustration List:


 Figure 1: Burton, Tim.(1990). Edward Scissorhands

Figure 2: Burton, Tim.(1990). Edward Scissorhands

Figure 3: Burton, Tim.(1990). Edward Scissorhands


Figure 4: Burton, Tim.(1990). Edward Scissorhands


  1. Hi Urvashi - just a note - it's good you're seeking to integrate your quotes into your own writing, by prefacing them with 'As so-and-so says' - but you still need to give a proper Harvard citation after the quote, which you don't do throughout.

  2. Hey Phil,
    Sorry about that. I shall make the necessary changes right away.