Why We Need Edward Scissorhands Now, More Than Ever


09 Feb
09Feb

Susan Leighton

In 1990, Tim Burton gave us his version of the Frankenstein legend, Edward Scissorhands. Johnny Depp starred as the titular character, the creation of “The Inventor” played by horror icon, Vincent Price in his last appearance on the silver screen. 

Edward is not a real boy. He is an “artificial” one. While he appears to be normal, there is one glaring difference that separates him from other humans. He has scissors for hands. 

It was his maker’s intention to replace the shears but he died of a heart attack before he could do so leaving his charge a “freak of nature.” Isolated from the outside world, no one knows Edward exists until one day he is discovered by local Avon salesperson, Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest) who knocks on his door. 

Immediately taken with the shy and uncommunicative youth, she brings him home with her to meet her family. Her husband Bill (Alan Arkin) and son Kevin (Robert Oliveri) like Edward right off the bat. However, her daughter Kim (Winona Ryder) is terrified of him because of his unusual appearance. 

Edward, on the other hand, is instantly smitten with Kim. Of course, she is taken and dating the popular jock in her high school, an immature and mean-spirited teen named Jim (Anthony Michael Hall). 

Desperate to impress Kim and win her affection, Edward creates magical topiary creations with his scissors in the Boggs’ yard as well as for the neighbors. It is through this endeavor that Peg realizes that he might be able to cut hair. 

An empath of sorts, Edward can figure out what look suits his subjects and then goes about creating it like an artist painting a portrait. This newfound talent garners him a lot of fans and puts him on the radar of the local cougar, Joyce (Kathy Baker). 

She wants nothing more than to seduce Edward but he only has eyes for Kim. In an attempt to entice him, Joyce proposes that they open up a hair salon together. While they tour a potential location, the aging temptress tries to put the moves on him. Terrified, Edward bolts from the site and gets as far away from Joyce as he can. 

Meanwhile, Jim plans to rob his parents so that he can procure money to buy a new van. He convinces Edward to use his scissor hands to pick the lock on his front door so that it looks like a thief broke into his house. Wanting to fit in, Edward reluctantly agrees to do it. 

Nothing good will come of this little enterprise because the alarm goes off instantly. Jim flees into the night and Edward, not understanding what is going on, ends up getting caught by the police. 

While Edward is at the police station, he is given a psychological exam. The doctor concludes that because he grew up secluded from society, he can’t cope with reality and has no common sense. This diagnosis is grounds for the charges against Edward to be dropped. However, he has a new problem on the horizon because a spurned Joyce is telling everyone in the neighborhood that he raped her. 

The chaos that results from the attempted robbery and Joyce’s accusations ends up alienating Edward from everyone in the neighborhood. They turn their backs on him and the Boggs family, making them all pariahs. 

Throughout this trying ordeal, Kim finds herself falling in love with Edward because of his gentle nature. She sees beyond his façade and into his pure heart which no one else can seem to do. 

One of the most beautiful scenes in this film that shows just how much Kim has come to love Edward occurs while her parents are putting up holiday decorations in their house. In the backyard, Edward is creating an ice sculpture of an angel. 

The shavings fall to the ground and it gives the illusion that it is snowing. Entranced by the beauty of the moment and admiring the lovely work that Edward is doing, Kim finds herself dancing in the makeshift winter wonderland. 

Sadly, their love is not to be because society keeps infringing upon the pair. Kim can’t even enjoy some alone time with Edward because Jim is right there to distract her while the pair are in the midst of an embrace. Unfortunately, Edward is startled by Jim’s sudden appearance and ends up slicing open Kim’s hand causing another incident. 

Jealous that his girlfriend prefers the “freak” over him, Jim decides to accuse Edward of attacking Kim. Angered and hurt, Edward runs away. Infuriated at Jim’s constant provocation of her love, Kim breaks up with him. 

By now, like the townspeople in James Whale’s Frankenstein, the neighborhood forms a mob to bring Edward to justice. Realizing that he has no place in this world, despite Kim’s love for him, he returns to his mansion, where he feels safe. 

Even though Edward is not physically with Kim, she knows he loves her and that the two of them will be together forever because they carry a piece of each other in their hearts. 

I adored this movie 31 years ago when I saw it in the theater. For those of us who were never the popular kids in school, we saw a lot of ourselves in Edward Scissorhands. We didn’t know how to embrace our differences and be comfortable in our own skins because we just wanted to belong so that we didn’t feel so isolated. 

Tim Burton’s story is a timeless classic and a reminder that unconditional love and acceptance does exist. Sometimes, we tend to forget that especially with everything that has happened over the past four years. 

When it seems as if you will never find your "soul tribe," don't give up. They are out there. Just keep your heart open and believe, you are not alone...

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