Now I know that there are some of you out there who won't agree with my inclusion of this film as a Christmas movie in my 25 days because it does not seem synonimous with the holiday. Many of you will even go so far to say that it isn't even about Christmas...and no, it isn't, but it does feature the holiday in both its prologue, third act, and coda and frankly that's good enough for me. Also, it deals with a very important dramatic question for any Christmas loving child...."where does snow come from"? And thus, we are launched into the narrative of Edward Scissorhands, one of the most touching and personal films that Tim Burton has ever made.
For those of you who don't know the story, it is a modern day fairy tale (that a grandmother tells to her granddaughter in the film no less) that takes place in today's peasant kingdom...suburbia, and how those that live there react to an outsider who is brought into their midst. Shy Avon lady Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest), frustrated with being unable to sell any cosmetics that day, wanders up to the old mansion on the hill hoping to find a customer. What she finds in the decrepit mansion is Edward (Johnny Depp), an artificial man with scissors for hands. At first Peg is afraid, but then she sees how gentle and alone Edward its, her heart melts and she takes him home with her so that she can take care of him. There he meets the other members of the family including Kim (Winona Ryder), Peg's daughter (whom he falls in love with) and the neighbors. At first everyone is impressed with Edward's talent for topiary work (bush trimming) and hair styling, but when he is framed for a robbery and spurns the affections of the neighborhood ho he becomes reviled and mistrusted by the neighbors. The ending is bittersweet and always makes me cry, mainly because of the interesting way that Burton and screenwriter Caroline Thompson wrap up the story and also because of the themes present (the reviled outsider, the fear of the unfamiliar, and love).
This was often described as a pet project for Burton, indeed the character of Edward in many ways reflects the person that Burton was in high school (odd, quiet, and misunderstood)...he even gets revenge on the school jock in the end. In such a way, he makes Edward someone that many of us can relate to (we've all been picked on or left out at some point in our lives). I know that he's the character I most identified with when I was younger...but I think now I relate more to the motherly Peg. Dianne Weist plays her with an honesty and sincere sweetness that never seems false or condescending. She is simply a kind person who gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, even though sometimes it allows her to be walked over by her neighborhood friends. The reason I say that I relate to her is that I often play the caring, kind friend to people I know. I'm sometimes nurturing and protective, and I no longer feel as though I don't belong...I'm more like Peg...I exist amongst similar people and we coexist as if we are the same, but at a deep level I know that I am my own different person and that I will never be fully one of them. I'd be the person to take in an Edward and would try to help him if I could and would never fear him because of his differences. I'm not perfect, mind you...and Miss J will be the first to tell you how non-nurturing and un-motherly I can be. But I know that some of that person exists in me, and its nice when he gets to show himself and pushes aside the grouchy cynic.