Storytelling has been a part of the human condition since before recorded history. It is only natural for people to want to hear a tall tale or be enthralled by a flight of fancy that appeals to the imagination. The format of the story changes with time but not the deep seated need for the story. One type of story that seems to be under used in modern times is the fairy tale or fable. It is a format for story telling that can be brilliant in its simplicity. Most often the fairy tale is intended for children serving the dual purpose of entertainment with the undercurrent of a morality play. Once in a great while a film comes along that is the modern embodiment of this most ancient literary format, if that film also represents the blending of extremely talented people on both sides of the camera the result can be pure magic. One such film came to be in the form of ‘Edward Scissorhands’. The film is dark, strange and completely delightful. In many ways it is difficult to describe this movie; it comes across as a children’s flick that has been retargeted to adults. It has also secured a place in cinematic history by helping to forge some professional relationships that not only still endure but thrive by continuing with innovative films. This movie has been available on DVD for several years now but at last it has been given the high definition treatment that it so richly deserves. Since the adoption of Blu-ray as the high def standard 20th Century Fox has been steadily revisiting some of the great movies in their extensive catalogue and it time for this groundbreaking film to get a breath of new life. If this one slipped by you before take this opportunity to add it to you collection; it will certainly bring the family a lot of entertainment.
The story was crafted by Caroline Thompson and Tim Burton with Thompson also handling the scripting while Burton provided his distinctive directorial style. This team would go on to continue their dark collaboration on ‘The Nightmare before Christmas’ and ‘Corpse Bride’. This movie also began the long and highly successful alliance with actor Johnny Depp and composer extraordinaire Danny Elfman. Like many fairy tales this one is set in a different world than we live in where the natural laws behave different than we are used to. The foundation for the story comes from a most unlikely sources; ‘Frankenstein’. It is just part of the genius here that one of the seminal horror stories of all time could be re-worked into a dark fable such as this. The film begins with an elderly woman telling her granddaughter a bedtime story. It is about a young man name Edward (Depp) who is nothing like other young men around. First of all he was not born but rather assembled by a lonely old scientist (Vincent Price) in his mysterious Gothic mansion that sits atop a hill that overlooks a bright suburban town. One day a local housewife named Peg (Dianne Wiest) was looking to increase her business as an Avon lady by calling on the mansion, the place was deserted except for Edward, it seems that the scientist die just before finishing his creation leaving Edward with sharp scissors in lieu of hands. Living in isolation after the death of his creator has left Edward totally unprepared for social interaction; in many ways his view of the word around him is childlike; filled with awe and wonder. Peg feels sorry for Edward all -alone in the deserted castle and invites the strange young man to stay with her family. When Edward arrives at Peg’ home he is introduced to her son Kevin (Robert Oliveri) and her teenage daughter Kim (Winona Ryder). At first the neighbors are uncertain about the pale, scarred young man but his popularity rises swiftly when they discover his innate talent for topiary and hair styling. With his scissor hands he is a natural creating topiary in surrealist animal shapes and elaborate hairstyles unlike anything the ladies have ever seen.
Not everybody in the small community is ready to welcome Edward. Local religious zealot Esmeralda (O-Lan Jones) believes him to be an unnatural abomination and Kim’s jock boyfriend Jim (Anthony Michael Hall) who is jealous of her attraction to his open, gentle affect. When Edward casually touches Kim he inadvertently cuts her leaving him open to accusations that he is a monster and danger to the community. Having been brought up isolated from others has left Edward unable to cope with the growing hatred. The central theme here is a familiar one for Burton; the outsider’s quest to be accepted. This is blend with ancillary points focusing on the fleeting natural of fame and the harmful results of prejudice. Edward is the epitome of teen angst; emotionally isolated, uncertain of his body and closed in by feelings of being completely misunderstood. Highlighting these feeling of isolation is the fact that although he desperately craves physical contact the blades that are his fingers hurts anyone he tries to get close to. Kim sees the dilemma that Edward could fulfill her emotionally but physically they could never be together. The knives separating Edward from everybody were also the novelty that allowed him to become popular. The theme of how people like to build someone up before ultimately tearing them down helps to strengthen the central narrative of the story.
Tim Burton has become on his generation’s most preeminent story tellers. His ability to infuse the macabre into tales otherwise delegated to children’s literature. With films in his catalogue created a holiday hybrid combining two diametrically opposite celebrations; Christmas and Halloween. With this movie Mr. Burton focuses his eccentric perspective on a bucolic suburban community and how it would react to something completely beyond their experience or understanding; a childlike man with potentially lethal blades in lieu of fingers. Mundane aspects of life in such a peaceful community such as yard work and a trip to the beauty parlor are woven with the tinge of fantasy that places such occurrences with a spectacularly whimsical coating. one of Mr. Burton’s most intriguing directorial style is this synergistic merger adult settings filtered through the innocence of a child. This movie brings the audience back to when imagination was more influential than reality.
There have been previous releases of this movie remastered to high definition so if you have one the only reason for adding this to your collection is if little pieces of faux memorability have an appeal for you. The important thing is this is the only way a film can approach the filmmaker’s vision is 1080p video and a robust DTS-HD Master audio 5.1 track can provide. Together they pull you into the story into the fantasy an removed from the burdens of normality.
Posted 08/04/09 10/09/2015