Movie-Hype (#745) - EDWARD SCISSORHANDS
I feel embarrassed even reviewing this movie, as I would assume virtually any movie watching person over 25 has seen it. However, as many of my readers are younger, and some of you are, well, just idiots, then I figured I better.
EDWARD SCISSORHANDS is getting attention because I'm highlighting the scary movies of Johnny Depp, but I could just as easily have done a retrospective on Tim Burton, who is often Depp's director, and seems to understand Depp the best. (Or vice-versa?) Johnny Depp is wonderful as Edward but more-or-less mute of speech and emotion (letting the situation speak for him) in the film. The true genius is Burton's demented vision.
I'm not going to tell you much, because if for some reason you missed this film, IT IS AN ABSOLUTE REQUIREMENT TO BE A HUMAN BEING. But the intro: Edward is basically Pinocchio, created by an inventor who died right as Edward was to get real hands. Now Edward tries to live in suburbia, where he's quite a bit different than everyone else.
In many ways, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS is more about being lonely and disaffected (especially as a teenager) than a scary movie, but the creepy atmosphere and Edward's initial grotesque appearance makes it a Halloween classic. (Trust me: you'll get over any initial revulsion of the guy, and come to love him.) Winona Ryder and Diane Wiest give great supporting performances, and Vincent Price (in his final role before he died) plays Edward's Creator/Father.
Back to Depp: the greatness of the performance (and whether this was at Burton's direction or all Depp I don't know), is how little emotion Edward displays. (And speech: he only says 169 words in the film, very little for a main character.) The temptation would be to go for all-out emoting, but that would have ruined the effect. (Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr. were both also up for this role. Both amazing actors, but it's hard to see how they wouldn't have changed the film dramatically.) Edward is sad, but mostly is an inscrutable enigma, more like a cigar-store Indian than flesh-and-blood. This fits in with the story, of course, with Edward's origins being animatronic, but has I believe an additional level of insight in that we A) learn more about Edward from the reflection he casts on/in others and B) ultimately we never learn much about how Edward actually thinks and feels, which might be the best comparison to humanity Burton has ever devised.
Suspension of Disbelief Index: An obvious 10, although if you remove "scissors for hands" with "physical deformity" and the actions of the people in the movie come closer to a 3.
Genre Grade: As a scary movie, you would have to give SCISSORHANDS a B- at best, because ultimately it's not all that scary. However, if we put it more accurate in the realm of magic-realism Fairy-Tale, we go straight to A.
Objectionable Material? - There is some scariness in Edward's appearance, and the whole atmosphere can be creepy until you get into it, but I think EDWARD SCISSORHANDS is in many ways a family film. I would say Middle School and up, and maybe younger if your kids can handle it.
Pantheon Percentile: EDWARD SCISSORHANDS goes down as one of Tim Burton's two or three greatest films, and similarly high on Depp's chart as well. I think there is a timeless quality here that ages better than most films of the period. I'm going to go way high: 93.