Edward Scissorhands, What You May Have Missed
Edward Scissorhands is not your average love story, it is dark and quirky, a moving tale about being different. To me, this movie is Tim Burton's take on a tale much like Beauty and the Beast. It's extremely well designed with that Burton blend of pastel goth and emotionally dark melancholy. It is the story of an outcast, the story of accepting those who are different, and a story that focuses on the terrible impacts of sheep like mob thinking in our society. Framed as a sad fairytale, Edward Scissorhands opens with, Kim (Winona Ryder), telling her granddaughter a bedtime story about how snow came to upon their sunny little town.
From there we go back - back to the picture perfect suburbia, with it’s cookie cutter homes, and perfectly manicured lawns, that house a society of bored, sheeple. Kim's mother, Peg (Dianne Wiest), a sweet but persistent Avon lady, stumbles upon this dark mansion at the edge of town. where she finds Edward (Depp) - a young man created by a lonely old inventor (Vincent Price), who was given a brain, a heart, eyes, and all the valuable organic parts we so often take for granted and the scars marking his terrible-pale face, he makes for a startling discovery upon first glance. Peg isn't like the other women populating her dull little corner of the suburbs - as a woman who earns a living by finding the beauty in everyone, she overlooks Edward's outward appearance to see the delicate, frightened, and innocent wide eyed gentleman within. Most of the women in this community, all bored gossipy housewives. They are just as lonely as Edward, and eager for something new and different to consume and destroy. The women of the town exploit Edward’s abilities, but Edward sees none of this because he only notices Kim. Beneath the halo of blonde hair and the macho boyfriend and the normal teen extracurriculars, she is lonely and different, too. Maybe she just doesn't know it yet, or maybe she doesn't want to admit it.
Edward Scissorhands doesn't follow the ordinary love story model in that the intimacy shared between Kim and Edward is brief, and unlike most fictional romances, this one has a somber and soul crushing ending.There is no actual coupling, all they share is a single kiss and a short embrace, but it's more powerful than a lifetime of comfort and happiness together - to someone like Edward who sees the value in what we often take for granted, these fleeting moments are life-changing. It's that previously-mentioned mob way of thinking that drives them apart, as Burton terrifyingly and accurately depicts the way small-minded sheeple reality and rabidly turn on anything unconventional. What was once this wonderful novelty quickly becomes dangerous to those who willfully efuse to perceive Edward as anything but an object. Instead, he is a toy they've grown sick of playing with, or like a puppy that's gotten a little too aggressive and loud.
Unlike Beauty and the Beast, there is no magical ending where the Beast’s curse is outweighed by an act of love. Edward Scissorhands is forced to retreat to his lonely mansion where an aggressive argument with Kim's boyfriend, Jim (Anthony Michael Hall, (almost completely/basically) playing Gaston, giant biceps and all), turns deadly. After sharing one sad, beautiful moment with his princess and rescuing her from the real beast, Edward is left as we first found him: alone.
It's only when Kim makes a story about Edward's brave death that the small-minded people of the little town regret their actions. It takes a tragic event to inspire empathy. Maybe more than a beautiful twisted love story, Edward Scissorhands is a cautionary tale about empathy, or lack there of. Which is more horrific than any modern day horror film. Because there is a ring of absolute truth to it. The majority of our society rejects what is unconventional and different. The end of the film delivers the answer to the mystery of the snow: it's Edward, alone on the hilltop carving ice sculptures that cause bits of snow to fall onto the town. Unlike those little people in that little town, Edward can empathize. He overlooks their flaws and embraces their differences. As a gift to those pitiful lonely people he gives them something beautiful because everyone deserves beauty.
Maybe what's most strange about the love story in Edward Scissorhands isn't the Beauty and the Beast story, but the idea of deeply caring, understanding feelings. It's something that shouldn't be an idea; it should be innate, but we find it so very hard to grab/understand. Empathy and, understanding are not always the norm, so it's strange. Yet It is, after all, the root of true love, peace and happiness.
Here's an fun and awesome video with 7 lesser known facts about the movie.
With that being said, after watching the movie countless times I decided to paint Edward Scissorhands last year. I was at a point in my life where I needed empathy from those around me and the movie deeply resonated. It was a dark time, and those closest to me lacked the empathy and support I needed. Instead they chose to point out my differences and I felt ostracized. It wasn't the first time in my life I had felt that way, so I was able to carry on and cope, but it was incredibly lonely, and scary. Working on this painting helped me focus on how I was so beautifully different, and gave me a better perspective and empathy to those who couldn't understand me.
After finishing Edward, I posted him on Reddit in the art threads. Unfortunately it was taken down due to the fact it is considered fan art. Many art shows and galleries weren't willing to take him either, likely for fear of copyright infringement, or due to the fact they don't understand the context of why I chose to put him on canvas. So, Edward Scissorhands hung in my studio for a little over a year, keeping me company and listening to me sing while I painted. It wasn't until I was tagged on an instagram post, by a fellow aspiring artist, that Edward would have a place where he fit in. East End Gallery, in Houston TX, is holding "Tim Burton's Crazy Reality" an art show that will feature Tim Burton characters. I am so excited for him to be traveling to this show, and I hope there that he will be adopted and find a home that loves and enjoys his presence as much as I have.