EDWARD SCISSORHANDS

Directed by Tim Burton. USA. 1991.


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Tim Burton may be found in most of the real characters of Edward Scissorhands. He is The Inventor of Edward, Pegg Boggs' protector of his creation and Kim Boggs' embracement of his identity - and in this, his recognition of his own directorial entity after the production-stifled Batman. Indeed, at it's most coherent level, Burton is Edward in this doubt-less autobiography. 

The inexactitude of direction in his previous three ventures, although exciting deliriously imaginative rides, has persistently left the heart in the mouth. Burton's self- recognition of this problem is evident now as he slices his interest, Society-like, into two: Edward's introduction to garish suburbia and the inevitable tragedy of culture friction. The dissection of the whole is so precise as to bring the film to an almost noticeable standstill before the tragic narrative begins. Within this structure lie The Past (creation of Edward and subsequent death of The Inventor) and The Present (creation of Edward's emotions and never-never relationship with Kim Boggs), the parallel stories impossibly embracing within the castle on the hill. Burton supports his theme of fateful grief with motifs on all sides, as comic as Edward's anxieties of the waterbed and as satisfying as the topiary hand failing to catch the fall of Edward's adversary, so everyone - Inventor and all - can sleep. 

Potential incest is thankfully smothered in the symbolic fade of Peg Boggs' unquestioning maternal feeling towards Edward to accommodate for the love of her daughter. For this, we can be grateful to Dianne Wiest and Winona Ryder for characterisation of beguiling empathy. Elsewhere, we have superbly delineated neighbours, notably Kathy Baker's tasteless nymphomaniac; similarly crafted production design and costume (out-of-this-world topiaries and haircuts); and Danny Elfman's best score. 

In concentrating on spirit and hope yet still retaining his primary interests of acceptance and rejection in the individual, Burton has focussed finely. Equally importantly, Johnny Depp offers such a controlled performance that he is never less than believable and has never been more sympathetic. Edward Scissorhands was created with hands of steely assurance and a longing heart. 

Ed Cooper 
 
 
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