EDWARD SCISSORHANDS — Strange Christmas Movies #9 (of 24)

For the days leading up to Christmas, Strangers and Aliens presents 24 Christmas movies that aren’t Christmas movies, but really kind of are, for various reasons.

edward_scissorhands#9 — Edward Scissorhands

What it’s supposed to be: Tim Burton’s love letter to classic monster movies, which also happens to be a teen metaphor, featuring Johnny Depp as the title character in a story that blends gothic romance and suburban lifestyles

Why it’s a Christmas movie: The opening of the movie (from the 20th Century Fox Logo, even) takes place in a snowy winter, and Winona Ryder in old age make-up starts to tell the tale of why it snows. Her story follows the traditional cinematic three act structure, and the entire third act takes place at Christmas.

Thoughts: Welcome back to Strange Christmas Movies, Tim Burton!

This is a lovely movie. especially compared to Batman Returns!

In fact, I had forgotten how much I liked this movie until I rewatched it recently. It perfectly captures the tone of awkward adolescence, marrying it beautifully to the tone of the Universal monsters (specifically, Creature from the Black Lagoon and Frankenstein).

Let’s just avoid discussion of the whole goth thing for now. Taking this movie as it’s offered, it’s dark, it’s melancholy, it’s sweet, and it’s wonderful crafted. It’s not perfect, but between Burton’s film sensibilities and Depp’s character acting, it feels like it could be perfect.

This is the story of a young man, Edward, who was created by a scientist (Frankenstein overtones abound!) who for some reason had to give him scissors for hands. He is found by a kind Avon lady, setting up an inverse fairy tale. The Avon lady steps into what seems like a fairy castle, but instead of entering the fairy tale, she brings Edward, the fairy tale creature, out.

And this is another movie where the Christmas season helps really set the mood of the story. Christmas is a time for family, but Edward has none. Indeed, Edward’s only family died when giving him an early Christmas present. It’s a disturbing scene, made more tragic because it’s Christmas.

In the movie, as Edward finds himself transplanted from his gothic grey life into the pastel suburbs, teen angst grows, misunderstandings abound, and love is found.

Oh, but not all is tragic. Unlike Frankenstein, where the monster is chased and killed (until the sequel), or the Creature of the Black Lagoon, which sinks to his death after his persecution (until the sequel), we get a bittersweet ending for our Edward Scissorhands and the townsfolk. And Edward Scissorhands gives back to the people who did nothing but take from him.

Is It Naughty or Nice? Is this movie worth seeing?

Yes. This is a charming fairy tale for people who love love. For people with romantic streaks that have not yet been beaten down by cynicism.

Santa Ben’s Verdict: Nice.

Your verdict? Let me know below in the comments!

Next: Hellboy II

Previous: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

You can follow this series of posts by clicking here: Strange Christmas Movies

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3 responses to “EDWARD SCISSORHANDS — Strange Christmas Movies #9 (of 24)”

  1. Jim Sweeney Avatar
    Jim Sweeney

    I do like Edward Scissorhands a lot, and yet for me it is one of the many good films that fails to be great because it kinds of falls apart at the end.

    ****SPOILER ALERT****

    It seems silly that the film should climax with the death of Anthony Michael Hall’s bully. Why do so many rich and/or popular alpha male bullies suddenly wax psychotic and homicidal in movies when things don’t go their way. It’s really a goofy stereotype that plays off class envy.

    1. Ben Avatar

      I found it surprising, too. In fact, I forgot he did that the last time I watched it. I remembered a fight scene at the end, but in my memory Anthony Michael Hall fell through a roof or something. I and completely forgotten that Edward took things into his own, ahem, hands.

      But like I said, I found it more surprising than silly. The killing was an extreme action, although he would have been acquitted of any murder charges. From the evidence we were given, it was self-defense.

      “Class envy”? Not sure I would go with you to that interpretation. Although, as someone bullied my whole life for being smaller than everyone else, maybe some of that is my internalization of Edward’s plight?

      But I view the extreme bully cliche as something else: a hyperbolic metaphor of people with strength and power who use their power to dominate and control and harm.

      Think of it this way: Edward was someone with power (the blades) trying hard to be gentle the entire movie; Anthony Michael Hall was someone with power (muscles) trying to manipulate and control. In the end, Edward uses his power to protect himself and Winona, but in doing so he takes control of Anthony Michael Hall’s character. The bully just bullied the weaker one into being a bully himself.

  2. Jim Sweeney Avatar
    Jim Sweeney

    I agree with your analysis of Edward’s tragic manipulation. I just think the extreme aggression on the part of the privileged jock is lazy storytelling and even lazier character development. I mention class envy because most viewers who have a media-skewed view of “elite” society will not question this extreme turn of events. The hyperbolic metaphor has worked its way into a commonly-held worldview. It goes without saying that the strong alpha male “1 percenter” is mentally unstable and driven by megalomania, forcing kindly disenfranchised misfits to take drastic action in defense of their very lives. We see similar dramatic interplay in Ender’s Game, but it makes sense there because the boys are actually enmeshed in military training. In Edward Scissorhands it is just seems like an absurd non sequitur.

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