Welcome to day 3 of the Christmas in July Blogathon 2020! Today we are joined by the cinephile and poet SG from Rhyme and Reason. SG uniquely combines his love of movies with his love of poetry, as you’ll see below. Definitely go check his blog out for a unique movie review format. Today, SG reviews the non-traditional Christmas film Edward Scissorhands.
Scissors for hands – what a curious trait!
What a sad and bizarre and improbable fate!
For scissors for hands, with their razor-sharp edges,
Would terrify all, and especially hedges.
How lonely ‘twould be to be born with such digits,
Endangering life with the slightest of fidgets!
For who could love someone so strange and pathetic,
With hands so unsightly, unsafe, and synthetic?
Somebody could, though you might call it schmaltz,
For love can look past all exterior faults.
Some mock and some fear, but if one understands,
That one can love past even scissors for hands.
MPA rating: PG-13
Thanks to Drew for letting me take part again in his annual blogathon. When it comes to Christmas in July, I tend to gravitate to films that aren’t full-on Christmas movies but still fulfill the mid-year need for some holiday spirit. This year, I decided to check out a film I hadn’t sought out before, due to my family’s general dislike of Tim Burton’s macabreness, but that I had heard fit into the unorthodox Christmas mold. Now that I’ve seen Edward Scissorhands, it’s hard to say it fits into any mold at all, but I can see why it brought attention to this first team-up of Burton and star Johnny Depp.
Even before the credits rolled, Edward Scissorhands struck me as a modern Grimm’s fairy tale, charming, weird, dark, and sad, yet still somehow beloved by many. Dianne Wiest plays Peg Boggs, a mother and Avon saleswoman, who enters the deserted medieval castle looming over her suburban neighborhood (not weird at all, right?) and discovers the lonely and timid Edward (Depp). He is an artificial man, created by the inventor who once lived there (Vincent Price in one of his last roles) but sadly unfinished and left with giant scissors in place of hands. Peg quickly decides to bring the orphaned Edward home with her, and he is taken wide-eyed into the friendships and vanities of suburban America, soon falling in love with Peg’s daughter Kim (Winona Ryder).
Tim Burton has called Edward Scissorhands his favorite and most personal film, and I can see why since it epitomizes his offbeat stylistic flourishes, of course heightened by a haunting Danny Elfman score. Both when Peg explores the Gothic castle and when the metal-bodied Edward explores her home, there’s a distinct visual contrast between the characters and the setting. Likewise, as Edward spreads his gift for topiaries, the presence of uniquely shaped hedges throughout the cookie-cutter pastel houses lends a special peculiarity to the environment, traces of the visiting stranger who doesn’t seem to belong.
Yet there’s also a clear lesson about books and their covers. Despite the clear ribbing of small-town sensibilities and gossip, most of the neighbors are surprisingly accepting of Edward, and despite his imposing hand blades, he proves to be a gentle soul, tenderly cutting the hair of people and pets and only ever cutting himself by accident. It is this very kindness that wins over Kim, despite his eccentricities. It isn’t until cruelty imposes on Edward, mainly in the form of Kim’s jealous boyfriend (Anthony Michael Hall), that he is viewed as dangerous, leading to rumors and a scenario straight out of Frankenstein.
So how is this at all Christmas-y? Well, mostly it’s not; the Christmas elements don’t come in until the climax, which takes place on the eve of a Christmas party in the Boggs home. Plus, actual hands were to be a Christmas present for Edward, and his use of his blades for ice sculpting creates the appearance of falling snow, becoming heartbreaking and poetic by the end. It’s not heavy on the holiday trappings, but there’s enough to warrant inclusion on a typical list of unconventional Christmas fare. It also kicked off Burton’s affinity for injecting Christmas into his dark films, as he did in Batman Returns and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Considering how reminiscent certain elements and themes are to Frankenstein and Beauty and the Beast, it’s surprising how original Edward Scissorhands feels, a genuine representation of Tim Burton’s surreal whimsy before it became clouded by lesser CGI-heavy adaptations of others’ stories. Personally, I thought Depp was a little too awkwardly blank-faced most of the time, but I could still see the subtle emotions at play. I thought Wiest with her selfless concern for Edward was the real star and heart of the film, and I was also glad to see Winona Ryder. If I hadn’t been a child in the ‘90s, I would have had a huge crush on her. I’m still not sure I’ve developed a taste for Tim Burton, especially since I was more depressed than wistful by the end, but Edward Scissorhands is one of the stronger entries in the director’s quirky oeuvre.
(audience member, when Edward is on a talk show) “But if you had regular hands, you’d be like everyone else.”
(Edward) “Yes, I know.”
(host) “I think he’d like that.”
(audience member) “Then no one would think you’re special. You wouldn’t be on TV or anything.”
(Peg) “No matter what, Edward will always be special.”
Rank: List Runner-Up
© 2020 S.G. Liput
P.S. Thanks again to Drew for having me once more and hosting this blogathon! As for my plus-one for the Christmas party, I think I’d like to bring Lily James, along with some mistletoe. 😊
You’re welcome, SG! Thank you for joining in again.
Tomorrow my Ultimate Decades enters the Christmas in July Blogathon.
Until next time, cheers!