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Edward Scissorhands

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This article is about the 1990 film. For the 2005 dance theatre work, see Edward Scissorhands (dance).
Edward Scissorhands
An image of Edward (the main protagonist) and his love interest
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tim Burton
Produced by
Written by Caroline Thompson
Story by
  • Tim Burton
  • Caroline Thompson
Starring
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Stefan Czapsky
Edited by Richard Halsey
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • December 6, 1990 (1990-12-06) (Los Angeles premiere)
  • December 7, 1990 (1990-12-07) (United States)
Running time
105 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million [2]
Box office $86 million [2]

Edward Scissorhands is a 1990 American romantic dark fantasy film directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp. The film shows the story of an artificial man named Edward, an unfinished creation who has scissors for hands. Edward is taken in by a suburban family and falls in love with their teenage daughter Kim. Supporting roles are portrayed by Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, Kathy Baker, Vincent Price and Alan Arkin.

Burton conceived the idea for Edward Scissorhands from his childhood upbringing in suburban Burbank, California. During pre-production of Beetlejuice, Caroline Thompson was hired to adapt Burton's story into a screenplay, and the film began development at 20th Century Fox, after Warner Bros. passed on the project. Edward Scissorhands was then fast tracked after Burton's success with Batman. Before Depp's casting, the leading role of Edward had been connected to Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Robert Downey, Jr. and William Hurt, while the role of The Inventor was written specifically for Vincent Price.

The majority of filming took place in the Tampa Bay Area of Florida between March and June 1990.[3] Edward's scissor hands were created and designed by Stan Winston. The film is also the fourth feature collaboration between Burton and film score composer Danny Elfman. Edward Scissorhands was released with positive feedback from critics, and was a financial success. The film received numerous nominations at the Academy Awards, British Academy Film Awards, Saturn Awards, as well as winning the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. Both Burton and Elfman consider Edward Scissorhands their most personal and favorite work.

Plot[edit]

An elderly woman tells her granddaughter a bedtime story of where snow comes from, by telling her the story of a young man named Edward who has scissors for hands. As the creation of an old Inventor, Edward was a human-like boy who had everything except for hands. The Inventor suffered a fatal heart attack and died before he could give human-like hands to Edward, replacing his scissor hands.

Local Avon saleswoman Peg Boggs visits the decrepit Gothic mansion on the hill where Edward lives. She finds Edward alone. Upon realizing he is virtually harmless, she takes him to her home. Edward becomes friends with Peg's young son Kevin and her husband Bill. He later falls in love with the Boggs' beautiful teenage daughter Kim, despite her initial fear of him.

Peg's neighbors are impressed by Edward's adept hedge-trimming and hair-cutting skills, though an eccentric religious fanatic named Esmeralda and Kim's overbearing boyfriend Jim are fearful and contemptuous of him. Joyce, an ageing, unfaithful housewife in the Boggs' neighborhood, has become fascinated with Edward and suggests that Edward open a hair-cutting salon with her. While examining a proposed site, she attempts to seduce him in the back room, causing Edward to leave in a panic.

Wanting money for a van, Jim takes advantage of Edward's ability to pick locks to break into his parents' house. The burglar alarm sounds and everyone except Edward flees after he is trapped by the automatic locks triggered by the alarm, despite Kim's insistence that they return for him. Edward is arrested and released when a psychological examination reveals that his isolation allowed him to live without a sense of reality and common sense. Infuriated by Edward's rejection, Joyce claims that he tried to rape her. During the Christmas season, Edward is feared and cast out by almost everyone except the Boggs family. When Edward returns home he reveals that he knew it was Jim's house they were trying to rob and that he did it because Kim asked him to, much to Kim's shock. This in turn causes Kim to show a sour demeanor towards Jim.

While the family is setting up Christmas decorations, Edward creates a large angel ice sculpture (modelled on Kim). The shavings create an effect of falling snow, which Kim dances under. "Hey!" Jim calls out to Edward, distracting him, resulting in Edward accidentally cutting Kim's hand. Jim says that Edward intentionally harmed her and attacks him. Edward runs away, wandering the neighborhood in a rage. Kim, fed up with Jim's behavior towards Edward, breaks up with him, and he goes to his friend's van to get drunk. While Peg and Bill search for Edward, he returns and finds Kim alone in the Boggs' house. She asks Edward to hold her, but he is afraid that he will hurt her. She pulls his arms around her and they embrace. Jim returns to the Boggs' house in a drunken rage, forcing his friend to drive his van while inebriated. Kevin is almost run over, but Edward pushes him out of the way, cutting Kevin's arms and face, causing witnesses to think he is attacking him. When the police arrive, Edward flees to his hilltop mansion as the neighbors pursue.

Kim runs to the mansion, reuniting with Edward. Jim follows her and attacks them. Edward stabs Jim in the stomach, causing him to fall out a window to his death. Kim confesses her love for Edward and they share a kiss before saying goodbye. Kim tells the townspeople that Edward and Jim fought each other to death and tells them that the roof caved in on Edward, showing them a disembodied scissor-hand from the Inventor's lab. The neighbors return home.

The elderly woman, revealed to be Kim herself, finishes telling her granddaughter the story, saying that she never saw Edward again. She chose not to visit him because she wanted him to remember her the way she was in her youth. She believes that Edward is still alive, seemingly immortal since he can never age. It is revealed that Edward creates the town's snow by carving ice sculptures that scatter shavings over the neighborhood.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The genesis of Edward Scissorhands came from a drawing by then-teenaged director Tim Burton, which reflected his feelings of isolation and being unable to communicate to people around him in suburban Burbank. Burton stated that he was often alone and had trouble retaining friendships. "I get the feeling people just got this urge to want to leave me alone for some reason, I don't know exactly why". During pre-production of Beetlejuice, Burton hired Caroline Thompson, then a young novelist, to write the Edward Scissorhands screenplay as a spec script. Burton was impressed with her short novel, First Born, which was "about an abortion that came back to life". Burton felt First Born had the same psychological elements he wanted to showcase in Edward Scissorhands.[4] "Every detail was so important to Tim because it was so personal", Thompson remarked.[5] She wrote Scissorhands as a "love poem" to Burton, calling him "the most articulate person I know, but couldn't put a single sentence together".[6]

Shortly after Thompson's hiring, Burton began to develop Edward Scissorhands at Warner Bros., with whom he worked on Pee-wee's Big Adventure and Beetlejuice. However, within a couple of months, Warner sold the film rights to 20th Century Fox.[7] Fox agreed to finance Thompson's screenplay while giving Burton complete creative control. At the time, the budget was projected to be around $8–9 million.[8] When writing the storyline, Burton and Thompson were influenced by Universal Horror films, such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), The Phantom of the Opera (1925), Frankenstein (1931), and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), as well as King Kong (1933) and various fairy tales. Burton originally wanted to make Scissorhands as a musical, feeling "it seemed big and operatic to me", but later dropped the idea.[9] Following the enormous success of Batman, Burton arrived to the status of being an A-list director. He had the opportunity to do any film he wanted, but rather than fast track Warner Bros.' choices for Batman Returns[4] or Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian, Burton opted to make Edward Scissorhands for Fox.[10]

Casting[edit]

Although Winona Ryder was the first cast member attached to the script,[9] Dianne Wiest was the first to sign on. "Dianne, in particular, was wonderful", Burton said. "She was the first actress to read the script, supported it completely and, because she is so respected, once she had given it her stamp of approval, others soon got interested".[11] When it came to casting the lead role of Edward, Fox was insistent on having Burton meet with Tom Cruise. "He certainly wasn't my ideal, but I talked to him", Burton remembered. "He was interesting, but I think it worked out for the best. A lot of questions came up".[11] Cruise wanted the ending to be "happier".[12] Michael Jackson expressed having interest for the role, but was ignored. Tom Hanks then turned it down in favor of The Bonfire of the Vanities. William Hurt and Robert Downey, Jr. had both openly expressed interest.[13]

Though Burton was unfamiliar with Johnny Depp's then-popular performance in 21 Jump Street, he had always been Burton's first choice.[11] At the time of his casting, Depp was wanting to break out of the teen idol status which his performance in 21 Jump Street had afforded him. When he was sent the script, Depp "wept like a newborn" and immediately found personal and emotional connections with the story.[14] In preparation for the role, Depp watched many Charlie Chaplin films to study the idea of creating sympathy without dialogue.[15] Fox studio executives were so worried about Edward's image, that they tried to keep pictures of Depp in full costume under wraps until release of the film.[16] Burton approached Ryder for the role of Kim Boggs based on their positive working experience in Beetlejuice.[11] Drew Barrymore previously auditioned for the role.[17] Crispin Glover auditioned for the role of Jim before Anthony Michael Hall was cast.[8]

Kathy Baker saw her part of Joyce, the neighbor who tries to seduce Edward, as a perfect chance to break into comedy.[9] Alan Arkin says when he first read the script, he was "a bit baffled. Nothing really made sense to me until I saw the sets. Burton's visual imagination is extraordinary".[9] The role of The Inventor was written specifically for Vincent Price, and would ultimately be his final feature film role. Burton commonly watched Price's films as a child, and, after completing Vincent, the two became good friends. Robert Oliveri was cast as Kevin, Kim's younger brother.[18]

Filming[edit]

Burbank, California was considered as a possible location for the suburban neighborhoods, but Burton believed the city had become too altered since his childhood[11] so the Tampa Bay Area of Florida, including the town of Lutz and the Southgate Shopping Center of Lakeland was chosen for a three-month shooting schedule.[5] The production crew found, in the words of the production designer Bo Welch, "a kind of generic, plain-wrap suburb, which we made even more characterless by painting all the houses in faded pastels, and reducing the window sizes to make it look a little more paranoid."[19] The key element to unify the look of the neighborhood was Welch's decision to repaint each of the houses in one of four colors, which he described as "sea-foam green, dirty flesh, butter, and dirty blue".[20] The facade of the Gothic mansion was built just outside of Dade City. Filming Edward Scissorhands created hundreds of (temporary) jobs and injected over $4 million into the Tampa Bay economy.[21] Production then moved to a Fox Studios sound stage in Century City, California, where interiors of the mansion were filmed.[19]

To create Edward's scissor hands, Burton employed Stan Winston, who would later design Penguin's prosthetic makeup in Batman Returns.[22] Depp's wardrobe and prosthetic makeup took one hour and 45 minutes to apply.[23] The giant hedge sculptures that Edward creates in the film were made by wrapping metal skeletons in chicken wire, then weaving in thousands of small plastic plant sprigs.[24] Rick Heinrichs worked as one of the art directors.

Music[edit]

Edward Scissorhands is the fourth feature film collaboration between director Tim Burton and composer Danny Elfman. The orchestra consisted of 79 musicians.[25] Elfman cites Scissorhands as epitomizing his most personal and favorite work. In addition to Elfman's music, three Tom Jones songs also appear: "It's Not Unusual", "Delilah" and "With These Hands". "It's Not Unusual" would later be used in Mars Attacks! (1996), another film of Burton's with music composed by Elfman.[26]

Themes[edit]

Burton acknowledged that the main themes of Edward Scissorhands deal with self-discovery and isolation. Edward is found living alone in the attic of a Gothic castle, a setting that is also used for main characters in Burton's Batman and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Edward Scissorhands climaxes much like James Whale's Frankenstein and Burton's own Frankenweenie. A mob confronts the "evil creature", in this case, Edward, at his castle. With Edward unable to consummate his love for Kim because of his appearance, the film can also be seen as being influenced by Beauty and the Beast. Edward Scissorhands is a fairy tale book-ended by a prologue and an epilogue featuring Kim Boggs as an old woman telling her granddaughter the story,[22] augmenting the German Expressionism and Gothic fiction archetypes.[27]

Burton explained that his depiction of suburbia is "not a bad place. It's a weird place. I tried to walk the fine line of making it funny and strange without it being judgmental. It's a place where there's a lot of integrity."[20] Kim leaves her jock boyfriend (Jim) to be with Edward, an event that many have postulated as Burton's revenge against jocks he encountered as a teenager. Jim is subsequently killed, a scene that shocked a number of observers who felt the whole tone of the film had been radically altered. Burton referred to this scene as a "high school fantasy".[22]

Release[edit]

Box office[edit]

Test screenings for the film were encouraging for 20th Century Fox. Joe Roth, then president of the company, considered marketing Edward Scissorhands on the scale of "an E.T.-sized blockbuster," but Roth decided not to aggressively promote the film in that direction. "We have to let it find its place. We want to be careful not to hype the movie out of the universe," he reasoned.[28] Edward Scissorhands had its limited release in the United States on December 7, 1990. The wide release came on December 14, and the film earned $6,325,249 in its opening weekend in 1,372 theaters. Edward Scissorhands eventually grossed $56,362,352 in North America, and a further $29,661,653 outside North America, coming to a worldwide total of $86.02 million. With a budget of $20 million, the film was declared to be a box office success.[29] The New York Times wrote "the chemistry between Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder, who were both together in real life at the time (1989–1993), gave the film teen idol potential, drawing younger audiences."[23]

Critical response[edit]

Edward Scissorhands received critical acclaim from critics and audiences. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that the film holds an 91% approval rating, based on 55 reviews, with an average score of 7.7/10. The site's consensus reads: "The first collaboration between Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, Edward Scissorhands is a magical modern fairy tale with gothic overtones and a sweet center."[30] Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 77 (out of 100) based on 19 reviews from mainstream critics, considered to be "generally favorable".[31] CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film a "A-" grade.[32]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone praised the piece by stating, "Burton's richly entertaining update of the Frankenstein story is the year's most comic, romantic and haunting film fantasy." He continued by praising Depp's performance stating, "Depp artfully expresses the fierce longing in gentle Edward; it's a terrific performance" and the "engulfing score" from Danny Elfman.[33] Staff of Variety spoke highly of the film, "Director [Burton] takes a character as wildly unlikely as a boy whose arms end in pruning shears, and makes him the center of a delightful and delicate comic fable." [34]

Marc Lee of The Daily Telegraph scored the film five out of five stars, writing, "Burton's modern fairytale has an almost palpably personal feel: it is told gently, subtly and with infinite sympathy for an outsider who charms the locals but then inadvertently arouses their baser instincts." whilst additionally adding praise to Depp's performance, "[Depp] is sensational in the lead role, summoning anxiety, melancholy and innocence with heartbreaking conviction. And it's all in the eyes: his dialogue is cut-to-the-bone minimal." [35]

Desson Thomson of The Washington Post wrote, "Depp is perfectly cast, Burton builds a surrealistically funny cul-de-sac world, and there are some very funny performances from grownups Dianne Wiest, Kathy Baker and Alan Arkin." while finding contemporary homages to The Elephant Man, Brothers Grimm stories and The Ugly Duckling [36] Rita Kempley of The Washington Post granted the film praise, "Enchantment on the cutting edge, a dark yet heartfelt portrait of the artist as a young mannequin." She too praised Depp's performance in stating, "[...] nicely cast, brings the eloquence of the silent era to this part of few words, saying it all through bright black eyes and the tremulous care with which he holds his horror-movie hands.[37]

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an "A-" rating and praised it in "The romanticism has a personal dimension -- for Edward is, of course, Burton's surreal portrait of himself as an artist: a wounded child converting his private darkness into outlandish pop visions. Like Edward, he finds the light." He also commented very positively on character of Edward, "[...] who is Burton's purest achievement as a director so far." Of Depp he wrote, "Depp may not be doing that much acting beneath his neo-Kabuki makeup, but what he does is tremulous and affecting." As well as Eflman's score of the piece by saying it to be, "[A] lovely, storybook score highlights the pop romanticism of Burton's conception. The romanticism has a personal dimension." [38]

Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote, "Mr. Burton invests awe-inspiring ingenuity into the process of reinventing something very small." [39]

Accolades[edit]

Stan Winston and Ve Neill were nominated the Academy Award for Best Makeup, but lost to John Caglione, Jr. for his work on Dick Tracy.[40] Production designer Bo Welch won the BAFTA Award for Best Production Design, while costume designer Colleen Atwood, and Winston and Neil also received nominations at the British Academy Film Awards. In addition, Winston was nominated for his visual effects work.[41] Depp was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, but lost to Gérard Depardieu of Green Card.[42] Edward Scissorhands was able to win the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation[43] and the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film. Danny Elfman, Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Alan Arkin, and Atwood received individual nominations.[44] Elfman was also given a Grammy Award nomination.[10]

Legacy[edit]

Burton cites Edward Scissorhands as epitomizing his most personal work.[10] The film is also Burton's first collaboration with actor Johnny Depp and cinematographer Stefan Czapsky. In October 2008, the Hallmark Channel purchased the television rights.[45] Metalcore band Motionless in White have a song entitled "Scissorhands (The Last Snow)" with its lyrics written about the film in homage to its legacy and impact on the gothic subculture.[46] Scottish indie rock band The Twilight Sad named a mini-album Here, It Never Snowed. Afterwards It Did after a line spoken in the final scene of the film.

An extinct lobster-like sea creature called Kootenichela deppi is named after Depp because of its scissor-like claws.[47][48]

Stage adaptations[edit]

A theatrical ballet adaptation by the British choreographer Matthew Bourne premiered at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London in November 2005. After an 11-week season, the production toured the UK, Asia and the United States.[49]

The British director Richard Crawford directed a stage adaptation of the Tim Burton film, which had its world premiere on June 25, 2010, at The Brooklyn Studio Lab and ended July 3.[50][51]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "EDWARD SCISSORHANDS". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved 7 December 1990.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. ^ a b "Edward Scissorhands". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 7 December 1990.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  3. ^ "Names in the News". Portsmouth Daily Times. March 23, 1990. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Mark Salisbury; Tim Burton (2006). Burton on Burton. London: Faber and Faber. pp. 84–88. ISBN 0-571-22926-3. 
  5. ^ a b Hanke, p.97-100
  6. ^ Donna Foote; David Ansen (1991-01-21). "The Disembodied Director". Newsweek. 
  7. ^ John Evan Frook (1993-04-13). "Canton Product at Colpix starting gate". Variety. Retrieved 2008-12-04. 
  8. ^ a b Frank Rose (January 1991). "Tim Cuts Up". Premiere. pp. 42–47. 
  9. ^ a b c d Nina J. Easton (1990-08-12). "For Tim Burton, This One's Personal". Los Angeles Times. 
  10. ^ a b c Edwin Page (2007). "Edward Scissorhands". Gothic Fantasy: The Films of Tim Burton. London: Marion Boyars Publishers. pp. 78–94. ISBN 0-7145-3132-4. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Salisbury, Burton, p.89-94
  12. ^ Chris Hewitt (2003-01-02). "Tom Cruise: The alternative universe". Empire. p. 67. 
  13. ^ Easton, Nina J (1990-08-12). "For Tim Burton, This One's Personal". The Los Angeles Times. 
  14. ^ Johnny Depp (2005). "Foreword". Burton on Burton. London: Faber and Faber. pp. ix–xii. ISBN 0-571-22926-3. 
  15. ^ "Johnny Depp on his inspiration for Edward Scissorhands". Entertainment Weekly. May 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-22. 
  16. ^ Giselle Benater (1990-12-14). "Cutting Edge". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  17. ^ Bernard Weinraub (1993-03-07). "The Name Is Barrymore But the Style Is All Drew's". The New York Times. 
  18. ^ DVD production notes
  19. ^ a b Laurie Halpern Smith (1990-08-26). "Look, Ma, No Hands, or Tim Burton's Latest Feat". The New York Times. 
  20. ^ a b Hanke, p.101-105
  21. ^ Joe Frank (1990-04-17). "Lights Camera Action Big Bucks". St. Petersburg Times. 
  22. ^ a b c Salisbury, Burton, p.95-100
  23. ^ a b Collins, Glen (1991-01-10). "Johnny Depp Contemplates Life As, and After, 'Scissorhands'". The New York Times. 
  24. ^ Frank, Joe (1990-05-22). "Something's Strange in Suburbia". St. Petersburg Times. 
  25. ^ Larry Rohter (1990-12-09). "Batman? Bartman? Darkman? Elfman". The New York Times. 
  26. ^ Danny Elfman, DVD audio commentary, 1998, 20th Century Fox
  27. ^ Graham Fuller (December 1990). "Tim Burton and Vincent Price Interview". Interview. pp. 110–113. 
  28. ^ Hanke, p.107-116
  29. ^ "Edward Scissorhands". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  30. ^ "Edward Scissorhands (1990)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  31. ^ "Edward Scissorhands Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  32. ^ "CinemaScore - Edward Scissorhands". CinemaScore. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  33. ^ "Edward Scissorhands". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 December 1990.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  34. ^ "Review: ‘Edward Scissorhands’". Variety. Retrieved 31 December 1989.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  35. ^ "Edward Scissorhands, review: 'a true fairytale'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  36. ^ "‘Edward Scissorhands’". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 December 1990.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  37. ^ "‘Edward Scissorhands’". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 December 1990.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  38. ^ "Edward Scissorhands". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 7 December 1990.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  39. ^ "Edward Scissorhands (1990)". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 1990.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  40. ^ Edward Scissorhands. "Edward Scissorhands". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  41. ^ "Edward Scissorhands". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  42. ^ "Edward Scissorhands". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  43. ^ "1991 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. Retrieved 2010-04-23. 
  44. ^ "Past Saturn Awards". Saturn Awards.org. Retrieved 2008-05-07. 
  45. ^ Daniel Frankel; Mike Flaherty (2008-10-22). "BET, Hallmark pact for pics". Variety. 
  46. ^ "Track-By-Track: Motionless in White". Alternative Press. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  47. ^ Colin Smith. "Actor Johnny Depp immortalised in ancient fossil find". Imperial College London. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  48. ^ Jack Losh (May 17, 2013). "Fossil named after Johnny Depp because of ‘scissor hand’ claws". The Sun. Retrieved May 18, 2013. 
  49. ^ "The Company". New Adventures. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  50. ^ "Edward Scissorhands," Tim Burton's Dark Fairy Tale, Tested as a Play in Brooklyn
  51. ^ Nina J. Easton "For Tim Burton, This One's Personal" Los Angeles Times (8-12-90)

External links[edit]