Assignment Three: Close Textual Analysis
Edward Scissor Hands (1990) by Tim Burton, is a romantic fantasy film centred upon a character, Edward (Johnny Depp), an uncommonly gentleman who is in fact an unfinished creation equipped with scissors for hands. Edward is taken in a by a suburban family (the Boggs) and quickly falls in love with the daughter Kim (Winona Ryder). To begin with Edward’s love for Kim is unrequited however as the film progresses we see Kim slowly fall for Edward and their love becomes mutual. Regrettably with Edward being a slightly different and more unusual character, it makes it hard for the two to love each other in solace. A sequence in the film that accurately communicates the difficult relationship between the two is when Edward and Kim share an intimate moment alone while the Boggs family is out searching for Edward. This scenario we witness is different from the typical romance depicted in today’s society and we, as the audience are able to see the awkward love shared between the two characters. I will analyse this sequence through its mise-en-scene, cinematography, narrative, sound, and music and discuss how these concepts help reveal the key ideas of appearance vs. reality as well as Edwards wish to conform to society, focusing particularly on Edward and Kim’s problematic love for one another.
This sequence begins just after Kim’s boyfriend Jim (Anthony Michael Hall) verbally attacks Edward calling him a freak and telling him to leave. Edward leaves the Boggs house angrily wandering the neighbourhood until he finds himself sitting alone on the side of the street. A combination of mise-en-scene concepts, lighting and costume are used to portray the director’s intentions. It is late at night and the lighting of this scene is dark and brooding, creating an atmosphere that works well with the feelings of despair and loneliness that Edward is experiencing. Edwards’s costume, which comprises of a full black attire fits well with the setting also as it exactly reflects his mood, this is because we can associate the colour black with sadness and solitude. It seems natural for Edward to be alone as at the beginning of the film we are shown his home, a decrepit gothic castle, situated on the top of the hill far from the rest of the town. Edwards home is cold, dark and uninviting and he lives by himself alluding to the fact that he fits comfortably into this environment where he sits on the pavement also alone. A wide-angle camera shot is used to emphasise Edwards’s loneliness, as we are able to see his surroundings, which reveals only him against the background of an American suburban house, it’s not long before a dog comes and sits next to Edward. Seeing that his fur has over grown his eyes, Edward snips it away so the dog is able to see.
Having hands as scissors makes it hard for Edward to do everyday activities such as dressing and using eating utensils. He is constantly impaired and he himself considers his hands as a defect or abnormality. (Sampson). In this scene where he is reflected in a lonely and gloomy space, he easily fits with the setting, making his scissor hands appear less of a physical disability. His actions towards the dog come across as a normal habit for him and we can understand this because he is by himself and not being compared to the other people of the suburban town who are depicted as normal. This brings about the idea of conformity to society, which is a powerful idea uncovered in the film. The townsfolk who although adored Edward at the beginning of the film now somewhat resent him, and this shot that shows Edward alone, simply emphasises his obvious unfitting place in the suburban society. Edward smiles at his work; happy he is able to be in some way useful. However his happiness is cut short when two bright white lights are seen coming round the corner. A swift and quick succession of music begins to play, a repetition, which...
Bibliography: Sampson, Cory. Tim Burton Collective. 12 September 2013 <http://www.timburtoncollective.com/edwardpsycho.html>.
Edward Scissorhands. Dir. Tim Burton. 20th Century Fox, 1990.
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