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Edward Scissorhands (1990)

by on 2011/10/23

“Get the hell outta here! Go you freak!”

* * * * *

I didn’t grow up in suburbia.

I’m not sure I could have survived it.

I grew up on a big, isolated farm. When school was hell – and it usually was – I could at least take the long, long bus ride home where I could fly kites, read strange poetry, draw cartoons, dress eccentrically, build houses out of hay bales and be left alone.

I was protected from judging eyes, unkind words and physical abuse by huge tracts of land.

Some kids aren’t so lucky.

Few films have captured the killing suffocation of suburbia as well as Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands.

Filmed in Tampa Bay, FL, Burton created a surreal version of suburban hell. The action is set in a maze of manicured lawns with houses the colour of “sea-foam green, dirty flesh, butter and dirty blue.” When an Avon lady named Peg Boggs (Diane Wiest) rings the doorbell of a Gothic castle, she discovers the abandoned creation of a genius inventor played by Vincent Price (The House on Haunted Hill).

This creation is  a pale young man, swaddled in black leather, with scissors for hands.

The kindly Peg takes Edward (Johnny Depp) into her home. Her husband Bill (Alan Arkin) and son Kevin (Robert Oliveri) take it in stride. Peg’s flighty daughter Kim (Winona Ryder) isn’t as welcoming. She stumbles upon the sleeping Edward, tucked into her water bed.

Kim meet Edward. Screaming and geysers of water ensue.

Neighbourhood Watch tongues wag over the addition of an odd new addition to the Bogg’s household. “I just saw this strange guy drive in with Peg. I didn’t get a good look at him. He looked kinda pale,” a Nosy Parker breathlessly reports.

It isn’t until the neighbours discover that the weird, silent interloper has special talent they can exploit, that Edward is welcomed. Sort of.

He can cut, chop and slash like a hairdresser on fire. He transforms shrubs, pets and housewives’ hairdos into gorgeous works of art. Always eager to keep up with the Joneses, Edward is used as a secret weapon in the suburban one-upmanship.

This honeymoon is short-lived. Edward scares the religious zealot, spurns the advances of tract housing sexpot Joyce (Kathy Baker) and accidentally cuts Kim. The bullies descend – always eager to kick those who are down.

Heartbreaking and achingly beautiful, Edward Scissorhands holds a very special place in my heart for so many reasons.

Edward Scissorhands is a fitting tribute to the incomparable, immortal Vincent Price.

Tim Burton creates worlds that really speak to me. I wouldn’t mind living in a place where hedges are made into towering animals and ice sculptures of angels create blizzards of ice. Creepy, dark, wonderful beauty.

Most of all, Edward Scissorhands is a film for anyone who has ever had trouble fitting in.

Being an individual is hard.

But it shouldn’t be fatal.

It Gets Better.

* * * * *

105 minutes

Rated PG-13 for housewives in hot pants, the stabbing death of a particularly unsympathetic jock (Anthony Michael Hall), and a frank depiction of why angry mobs and bullies suck

105 minutes

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