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EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1993)

"Edward Scissorhands" is a contemporary adaptation of the classic dark fairytale of the exiled "other"; a modern day version of Frankenstein that tells of the trials and tribulations of attempting to institutionalize one man into society after he was discovered living alone in an abandoned mansion on top of the hill. As the young man, Edward, does his best to learn how to live in 'gaslight district' utopia, he will become the biggest buzz for bored housewives and neighborhoods over, both of good and bad opinion.

The cast includes: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Alan Arkin, Anthony Michael Hall, and Vincent Price.

Written by: Tim Burton (story) and Caroline Thompson (story and screenplay).

Directed by: Tim Burton.

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Genre: Fantasy, Comedy, Drama, Romance.

Tagline: Sometimes a gentleman comes in the most unlikely package…

Rated: PG13 for occasional language, thematic content, and some sexual references.

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The film opens in a classic fairytale setting where grandmother is tucking in granddaughter. As Burton would have it, it's a cold wintry night and the snow outside is falling. Since the granddaughter can't fall asleep she asks her grandmother to tell her a story about how the snow came to fall which of course sets the stage to launch us into fairytale land of the past as the grandmother reflects back on how one man by the name of Edward (Johnny Depp) was responsible for making the snow fall in her city.

As the scene pans back in time the classic dark fairytale commences with a memorably dark montage of caricature and animation that tells of a bizarre laboratory located in the hull of a dark mansion atop an isolated hill wherein lives an uncanny, albeit brilliant and gentle Inventor (Vincent Price) who dreams of creating a man. But old in age and living alone, the creative man soon dies before he can complete his project. Thus alone, and incomplete, Edward Scissorhands spends his days in exile away from the social utopia of his neighborhood, that is, until his local Avon lady, Peg (Dianne West), pays him an unlikely visit.

Discovering him to be alone the humanitarian Peg takes Edward back to her home where she can help raise and 'civilize' him. Meanwhile the nosy neighbors, bored with playing the role of lonely housewife 24/7, have taken a keen interest in their mysterious new guest. After a successful BBQ Edward becomes all the rave of the town. One by one the female neighbors take an uncanny interest, some more sensually motivated than others, in their new neighbor and implore Edward to pay them luncheon visits. In the midst of all their cookies and "lemonade" Edward returns their hospitality via striking garden sculptures, pet and personal hair care and styling, as well as a myriad of other surprising treats.

While Joyce (Kathy Baker) does her best to seduce her unsuspecting neighbor, it seems Edward may have another female in mind, such as Peg's daughter, Kim (Winona Ryder). But Kim is a self-conscious teenage girl weary of other people's opinions, including those of her hotshot boyfriend, Jim (Anthony Michael Hall). As Jim begins to suspect Edward's particular affections, he plots how to set Edward up to slander his reputation. One innocent criminal moment next and suddenly Edward goes from being the "talk of the town" to being, "the talk of the town", only this time in a bad way. What was once an esteemed unique young gentleman is now being turned into a criminal 'sex offender' as Jim, Joyce, and the rest of the offended neighbors do their best to oust the naïve Edward who refuses to play into their traps.

With Christmas on the near horizon, Peg struggles to keep alliances with her now weary neighbors who are beginning to speculate attending her local Christmas party primarily because of her precarious guest of honor. Meanwhile the innocent Edward makes it snow for the first time in the history of the town with the help of a giant ice sculpture. But wile Kim is standing invisibly by, her troublemaking boyfriend shows up to make trouble for Edward by once again falsely accusing him of troubles of which he is entirely innocent. But with everyone weary of Edward's now volatile humor scaring the entire neighborhood it seems that perhaps the only thing for Edward to do is to go back home to his house on the hilltop. With the police after a missing Edward, Kim anxiously questioning her feelings, the nosy female neighbors all upset (gathering on their trademark corner to gossip about everything and nothing at all), and a reflective Peg speculating Edward's precarious future, and Bill (Alan Arkin) searching for his 'foster son' in vain, all hold their breath in anticipation of hearing some word from their notorious neighbor... Edward Scissorhands.

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, like much of Burton's work, is an amazing conflation of good and bad, fantasy and nightmare, romance and horror, all juxtaposed into a Technicolor wonder as the audience watches Edward move in and out of utopian modern day suburbia to the starkly contrasting "haunted hilltop mansion". With much the same Burton flair as his films "Nightmare Before Christmas" (in deed one can't help but see an uncanny resemblance between Jack Frost and EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, "Big Fish", and "Batman" there is always the genre of Gothic running through his works. From the architecture, to the costumes, to the themes, the potent prevalence of Gothic pervades Burton's films with fantastic picaresque panache.

Moreover, in EDWARD SCISSORHANDS the contrast between a Gothic "outcast" immersed in the Technicolor vacuum of suburbia is a wonderful treat; both cinematically and thematically, as Burton interweaves complex montages, literary conventions, and thematics into a vivid spectacle of striking art direction and cinematography. Adding further complexity to the film and arguably operating as the fundamental component assisting in the continuous recognition of the fantasy genre is the film's score. Both haunting though compelling, soothing yet melancholic, the score lingers in high octaves that smack of a boys choir singing Christmas carols to bell accompaniment; a perfect backdrop for the book-ended winter-set scenes.

More than a visual spectacle, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS is a remarkably witty script. Nuance and detail is observed in everything from the set descriptions, to the characterization, to the witty metaphors and often trite insights into the sheltered naivete of Edward's psyche, as is realized by his inability to recognize the most commonplace social interactions and vernacular (for instance the shish kabob scene). Tim Burton steps into the shoes of "the inventor" and brings to life yet another real "anti-heroic" masterpiece that, like its Burton predecessor "Batman", creates the complexly ambivalent anti-hero; innocent, jaded, neither wholly good, or wholly bad, and inept to fully comprehend the unnecessary evils of society. That said, Johnny Depp is simply spectacular and it's a real treat to watch him immerse himself in the uncanny role of this half-machine, half-human exile that, scissors, black combat boots, and all, is the most unlikely gentleman to emerge on the silverscreen in a long while. Though Arkin, West, Ryder, and Baker all did fantastic jobs with their role, Depp is simply a stand out in the film.

As one critic notes of the film: "Like eve[r]ything I've seen by Tim Burton, this film is at one and the same time, warm and frightening, tender and heart-wrenchingly evil, uplifting and dark. The good and bad in humanity are [depicted in easily observable, albeit stark contrasts]..."

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS was nominated for an Oscar for Best Makeup. The film also garnered another 5 wins including the Academy of Sci-Fi's Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film and 10 nominations including a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor (Johnny Depp).

Main Characters:

Johnny Depp plays Edward Scissorhands, the uncannily unfinished gentleman.

Winona Ryder plays Kim, Edward's first potential love interest.

Dianne Wiest plays Peg, your local Avon lady who takes Edward under her wing.

Alan Arkin plays Bill, Peg's supportive wife.

Anthony Michael Hall plays Jim, Kim's hotshot boyfriend.

Kathy Baker plays Joyce, Peg's nosy, sexually precocious neighbor.

Robert Oliveri plays Kevin, Peg's inquiring young son.

Vincent Price plays the Inventor, the man behind the creation of Edward Scissorhands.