Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tim Burton|
|Produced by||Denise Di Novi
|Screenplay by||Caroline Thompson|
|Story by||Tim Burton
|Music by||Danny Elfman|
|Edited by||Richard Halsey
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$86 million|
Edward Scissorhands is a 1990 American romantic dark fantasy film directed by Tim Burton, produced by Denise Di Novi and Tim Burton, and written by Caroline Thompson from a story by Tim Burton and Caroline Thompson, starring Johnny Depp as an artificial man named Edward, an unfinished creation who has scissor blades instead of hands. The young man is taken in by a suburban family and falls in love with their teenage daughter Kim (Winona Ryder). Additional roles were played by Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, Kathy Baker, Vincent Price and Alan Arkin.
Burton conceived 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. declined. Edward Scissorhands was then fast tracked after Burton's critical and financial success with Batman. The majority of filming took place in Lakeland, Florida between March 10 and June 10, 1990. The film also marks the fourth collaboration between Burton and film score composer Danny Elfman.
The leading role of Edward had been connected to several actors prior to Depp's casting: a meeting between Burton and the preferred choice of the studio, Tom Cruise, was not fruitful, and Gary Oldman and Tom Hanks turned down the part. The character of The Inventor was devised specifically for Vincent Price, and would be his last major role. Edward's scissor hands were created and designed by Stan Winston.
Edward Scissorhands was released to 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.
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 scissor blades for hands. As the creation of an old Inventor, Edward was a human-like boy who was in the penultimate stage of work. The Inventor homeschooled Edward, but suffered a fatal heart attack and died just as he was about to fasten hands on Edward.
A local Avon door-to-door saleswoman Peg Boggs visits the decrepit Gothic mansion on the hill where Edward lives. She finds Edward alone – at first startled, but, upon realizing he means well and is virtually harmless, takes him to her home. As Edward is taken to Peg's home, the people in the suburbs start to get suspicious about who she brought with her. 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 overall befriend Edward, but through out the film, Edward's problems are caused by an eccentric religious fanatic named Esmeralda and Kim's overbearing boyfriend Jim, who are fearful and contemptuous of him. The housewives of the neighborhood are all fascinated by Edward. As soon as they hear about him, the neighborhood fills up Peg's phone tape asking about the unusual guest, and organize a barbecue at Peg's house, men tell jokes about Edward, the housewives feed him out of their hands, and the neighbors as a whole befriend him despite his disability. In return, Edward cuts the hedges into beautiful hedge statues, until he decides to cut a dog's hair into a show poodle style, causing the neighborhood to have him cut all their dogs' hair, before he agrees to cut the hair of the women in the neighborhood. As a result one such woman, Joyce, an ageing, unfaithful housewife, suggests that Edward open a hair salon with her, and Bill recommends he charge money for his services. While examining a proposed site, Joyce attempts to seduce him in the back room, causing Edward to leave in a panic, and calmly make a joke about how she took all her cloths off in the back room. After deciding on a location, Edward is told by Jim and Peg that he needs to get a loan from the bank to start his business and is assured by Peg that with his talent for cutting hair, getting a loan will be easy. But the bank refuses to give Edward a loan on account that he has no social security, no bank account, and no records whatsoever, having never lived in civilization, and has to get the money from other means. Wanting money for a van, Jim takes advantage of Edward's ability to pick locks to break into his parents' house to steal from his wealthy but bullying father. The burglar alarm sounds and everyone except Edward flees after he is trapped by the automatic locks triggered by the alarm. Edward is arrested, but released when a psychological examination reveals that his isolation allowed him to live without a sense of reality and common sense. Upon questioning by Peg, Edward takes full blame for the robbery, and is scrutinized for his behavior, in doing so the audience learns an important part of Edward's character, being that Edward values his friends highly, he values them above what is right. During Christmas, Edward is cast out by almost everyone except the Boggs family. When Edward returns home, he reveals that he knew it was Jim's house, shocking Kim. When she asks him why he did it, Edwards replies because Jim asked.
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. Jim arrives and calls out to Edward, startling him, resulting in Edward accidentally cutting Kim's hand. Jim accuses Edward of intentionally harming her and attacks him which causes Kim who is finally fed up with Jim's jealousy towards Edward to break up with him. Edward runs away, wandering the neighborhood in a rage, ruining one of his earlier hedge works, pokes a hole in the tire on someone's car, and trims a bush in Esmeralda's front yard into the shape of the devil. However, when a shaggy puppy comes near, Edward calms down, smiles at the dog and trims the fur out of its eyes. 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 again – she pulls his arms around her and they embrace. Jim returns to the Boggs' house in a drunken rage to confront Kim, 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. Jim then attacks him furiously and Edward cuts Jim's arm. When the police arrive, Edward flees to the mansion as the neighbors pursue him.
Kim runs to the mansion, reuniting with Edward. Jim follows her and attacks them with a handgun, beating Edward severely, who refuses to fight until Jim strikes Kim across the face when she intervenes. Edward stabs Jim in the stomach and pushes him to fall out of 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 discarded scissor-hand from the Inventor's lab. The neighbors return home with Joyce feeling guilty for framing Edward and causing the neighbors to hate him.
The elderly woman finishes telling her granddaughter the story, revealing that she is Kim and saying that she never saw Edward again. She chose not to visit him because decades have passed and she wanted him to remember her the way she was in her youth. She believes that Edward is still alive, immortal because he is artificial, and because of the winter "snow" that Edward creates by carving ice sculptures that scatter shavings over the neighborhood. The movie finishes with Kim saying "sometimes you can still catch me dancing in it".
- Johnny Depp – Edward Scissorhands
- Winona Ryder – Kim Boggs
- Dianne Wiest – Peg Boggs
- Alan Arkin – Bill Boggs
- Anthony Michael Hall – Jim
- Kathy Baker – Joyce
- Robert Oliveri – Kevin Boggs
- Vincent Price – The Inventor
- Conchata Ferrell – Helen
- Caroline Aaron – Marge
- Dick Anthony Williams – Officer Allen
- O-Lan Jones – Esmeralda
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. The drawing depicted a thin, solemn man with long, sharp blades for fingers. 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. "Every detail was so important to Tim because it was so personal", Thompson remarked. 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".
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. 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. 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. 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 or Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian, Burton opted to make Edward Scissorhands for Fox.
Although Winona Ryder was the first cast member attached to the script, 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". When it came to casting the lead role of Edward, several actors were considered; 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". Cruise asked for a "happier" ending. Burton would have loved to have Michael Jackson playing the part but there were circumstances that made it impossible. Gary Oldman and Tom Hanks turned down the part, the latter in favor of critical and commercial flop The Bonfire of the Vanities. Oldman declined as he found the story absurd, but said of the finished film: "Literally two minutes in, I went, 'Yeah, I get it'. I just got it too late." Jim Carrey was also considered for the role, while Thompson favored John Cusack. Elsewhere, William Hurt and Robert Downey Jr. expressed interest.
Though Burton was unfamiliar with Johnny Depp's then-popular performance in 21 Jump Street, he had always been Burton's first choice. 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. In preparation for the role, Depp watched many Charlie Chaplin films to study the idea of creating sympathy without dialogue. 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. Burton approached Ryder for the role of Kim Boggs based on their positive working experience in Beetlejuice. Drew Barrymore previously auditioned for the role. Crispin Glover auditioned for the role of Jim before Anthony Michael Hall was cast.
Kathy Baker saw her part of Joyce, the neighbor who tries to seduce Edward, as a perfect chance to break into comedy. 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". 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. Nick Carter from The Backstreet Boys was an uncredited casting as the blond boy playing on the Slip 'n Slide when Edward was riding in Peg's car through suburbia.
Burbank, California was considered as a possible location for the suburban neighborhoods, but Burton believed the city had become too altered since his childhood 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. 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." 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". The facade of the Gothic mansion was built just outside Dade City. Filming Edward Scissorhands created hundreds of (temporary) jobs and injected over $4 million into the Tampa Bay economy. Production then moved to a Fox Studios sound stage in Century City, California, where interiors of the mansion were filmed.
To create Edward's scissor hands, Burton employed Stan Winston, who would later design the Penguin's prosthetic makeup in Batman Returns. Depp's wardrobe and prosthetic makeup took one hour and 45 minutes to apply. 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. Rick Heinrichs worked as one of the art directors.
Edward Scissorhands is the fourth feature film collaboration between director Tim Burton and composer Danny Elfman. The orchestra consisted of 79 musicians. 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.
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, augmenting the German Expressionism and Gothic fiction archetypes.
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." 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 in suburban Burbank, CA. 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".
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. 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. 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."
Edward Scissorhands received acclaim from critics and audiences. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that the film holds an 89% approval rating, based on 56 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." 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". CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film a "A-" grade.
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. 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."
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."
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." 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.
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."
Stan Winston and Ve Neill were nominated the Academy Award for Best Makeup, but lost to John Caglione, Jr. and Doug Drexler for his work on Dick Tracy. 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. Depp was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, but lost to Gérard Depardieu of Green Card. Edward Scissorhands was able to win the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film. Danny Elfman, Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Alan Arkin, and Atwood received individual nominations. Elfman was also given a Grammy Award nomination.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- 2005: AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores – Nominated
- 2008: AFI's 10 Top 10:
- Nominated Fantasy Film
Burton cites Edward Scissorhands as epitomizing his most personal work. 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. Metal 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. 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.
Between 2014 and 2015 IDW publishing released an Edward Scissorhands series which serves as a sequel and takes place several decades after the film. The series consists of ten issues which have been collected in two trade paperbacks,it was written by Kate Leth and the art was done by Drew Rausch.
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.
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- Official website for Matthew Bourne's adaptation
- Kristin Hohenadel (2005-11-22). "Run With Scissors? And Then Some". The New York Times.
- Matthew Gurewitsch (2007-03-11). "Admire the Footwork, but Mind the Hands". The New York Times.