Monday, September 8, 2008

Edward Scissorhands

I was in Wal-Mart recently and noticed that the had Edward Scissorhands in the giant bin of five dollar movies. There are all sorts of gems to be found in there. I recalled that I already have this movie at home and decided it was time to dust it off and try and remember why I purchased it in the first place. When this movie was released, it was not a smash hit. The movie was released in 1990 on the heels of Burton’s Batman success in 1989. The big box office payday failed to materialize, resulting in a worldwide gross of less than 60 million dollars. Blockbusters often have short shelf lives...they do great at the box office but aren’t good enough to watch over and over again. Then there are the treasures that open to little hullabaloo and return modest profit on the investment...but are capable of withstanding the test of time. Edward Scissorhands is just such a movie. There have been comparisons between this movie and the classic Frankenstein. I can see some similarities, but the stories are very different in many respects. Edward Scissorhands tells the story of a young man (more along the lines of Pinnochio, who is brought to life by a Scientist/Father-Figure who seems to long for companionship. The process of giving life is a slow process of piecing together parts and providing guidance and life lessons. The final act of the Scientist is to give his creation a set of hands carefully crafted to look like real hands. It is implied that this creature was made from a cookie cutting machine. This machine had a human like quality...and we see the inventor hold a heart-shaped cookie up to the trunk of the machine that is busy cutting and slicing cookies passing on a conveyor belt. The remnants of that original machine are the cutting devices, the scissors, which Edward uses as hands. Alas, the Scientist dies in his final act of love, failing to equip his creation with tools that we all take forgranted. Edward hides in the castle that is his home until he is discovered by a struggling Avon Lady bent on succeeding at her trade. She brings Edward home to try and help him. What ensues is a rise to fame followed by fear and panic. Edward does not understand his environment and misinterprets events around him. In his childlike way, he struggles to adapt but quickly becomes ostracized. A series of events turns and misunderstandings turns the community against him as his adopted family struggles to protect him. We are left with a bittersweet ending that is both mechanical and melancholy. In an odd framework of writing, we get a story of innocence that is also a study of human nature.


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