Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1991, thirty years ago. In second place was Total Recall, which I have seen; three films I have not seen came third, fourth and fifth, respectively Ghost, Back to the Future III and The Witches. Edward Scissorhands was nominated for one Oscar, Best Make-up, but beaten by Dick Tracy. IMDB users rank it 3rd on one system and 7th on the other, which is not bad. Goodfellas and Home Alone beat it on both rankings. I've have voted for Total Recall ahead of Edward Scissorhands, but for both ahead of this year's Oscar winner, the worthy but dull Dances with Wolves.

There is precisely one crossover with previous Oscar- and Hugo/Nebula-winning films; the star here, Johnny Depp, was one of the unlovely protagonists of Platoon, a translator most of whose scenes were cut from the final version.

I quite like Edward Scissorhands – it has an utterly implausible premise, of a Gothic castle which happens to be right next to a slice of Fifties suburbia, but once you accept that the humour is precisely in the lack of congruity between the two worlds, you can relax into it. It would be very easy to get this wrong, and Burton and Depp manage to make sure that we never quite lose our suspension of disbelief, as Edward's presence exposes the nastiness within the apparently nice neighbourhood. For me this is embodied by Anthony Michael Hall, the nicest of the kids in The Breakfast Club, playing the abusive boyfriend here, attempting to rob his own father and letting Edward be framed for it.

Having said that, it's more of a story of the women, with Dianne Wiest's Peg making the initial generous offer to integrate Edward into the community and Winona Ryder's Kim initially unhappy but (inevitably) becoming the romantic lead.

Also notable that the one black person in the film is the local police chief, played by Dick Anthony Williams, who is also one of the most sympathetic characters.)

(I did wonder at first how Edward goes to the toilet, but given that he is artificial, perhaps he doesn't need to.)

I think everyone has experienced the feeling that they don't really fit in, even people who grew up in the most blissful suburbs, and the genius of the film is to make us all feel more sympathy for the weird (and not necessarily human) Edward at the expense of the "normal" people who he finds himself amongst. It didn't blow me away, but I did like it more than I had expected to on rewatching.

Next in this sequence is Terminator 2, Judgement Day, which won both the Hugo and the Nebula-equivalent Ray Bradbury Award. But first, The Silence of the Lambs.

One thought on “Edward Scissorhands

  1. Thanks! And understood. Though I think this means I can add you to the list of unintentional blockers…

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