Edward Scissorhands – Essay
The gothic fairy-tale film Edward Scissorhands by Tim Burton deals with important ideas about how we treat others and about the nature of identity. The director engages the viewer with a story about Edward, an unknown being living in a Castle above a picture-perfect suburb. When Edward is brought into the town he is initially accepted but rapidly is hated and victimized by the town. The film explores significant ideas such as don’t judge a book by its cover, Conformity and belonging. These show us that we as humans need to be more accepting towards others and help us to treat others with love and care, and how it feels to be excluded.
Tim Burton examines significant ideas about how we treat others, particularly focusing on the discrepancy between appearance and reality. The theme ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ deals with the idea of people being mistreated because of the way they look. This can also be when someone looks and acts kind but in actuality is an evil person. This idea is seen when Edward is first introduced into the town, it is clearly shown that everyone believes that Edward is intriguing but dangerous. This can be seen as during the opening scenes the music is dark and ominous. Other characters that follow this theme is Jim, who at the beginning of the film is a very kind and caring person but as the film progresses you can see that Jim is a very controlling person. It is not Edward who is the real ‘monster’ but Jim who looks the part of the all-American hero. We the audience can see this in the final standoff between Edward and Jim when Jim attempts to murder Edward. This shows us why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The idea of Don’t judge a book by its cover is a significant idea as it helps us to see why positive relationships and connections with others are so important to our sense of self.
‘Edward Scissorhands’ also deals with the significant ideas of judgement and acceptance. When we judge a book by its cover we inevitably fail to truly see the who that person is on the inside and the judgement of others stands as a barrier to us understanding and accepting them. The ideas of judgement and acceptance are seen through the recurring motif of the neighbourhood women gathering to gossip about Edward. Esmerelda says that Edward is “straight from the stinking flames of hell!”. The film shows us that the way the women, like Esmerelda, have judged Edward based only upon his appearance and not his gentle nature is wrong, and it teaches us that we should instead look into a person’s heart, rather than upon their look. Further, the idea of acceptance and judgement is also seen in the neighbourhood’s final rejection of Edward. As an aerial camera angle captures the horde of neighbours chasing Edward back to his castle Joyce lies saying “All along I felt in my gut there was something wrong with him.”. Burton reveals the cruelty of the women denying Edward acceptance based upon false judgements, showing us the dangers of jumping to conclusions. The theme of judgement and acceptance teaches us about how we should treat others, and the bad impact of treating people based upon the way they look.
Edward Scissorhands explores the idea of conformity through Peg Boggs’s suburban lifestyle. Burtons choice of the pastel colours show how all of the people in the suburb conform to the norm, this contrasts with the black and white colours of Edwards castle this shows us that Edward does not conform. The pastel colours show a true one-dimensional colour scheme throughout the film. These colours also represent how all the women are essentially the same as all they do converse and gossip, showing no true individuality. When Edward is on the talk show an audience, member asks Edward “If you had regular hands you’d be like everyone else” then another unnamed character says “Then no one would think you’re special. You wouldn’t be on TV or anything”. This shows that the town does not believe that Edward is should be given extra attention, and all he has is just his Scissorhands. Burton shows this scene as an interrogation set in a talk-back show as many characters are quickly asking questions to Edward which effectively makes him feel metaphorically ‘smaller’ than everyone else. Edward Scissorhands shows that conformity is not always a good thing, and in fact is a bad thing as it forces everyone to be the same and discourages individuality.