Film Review - Edward Scissorhands

figure. 1 Edward Scissorhands Movie Poster

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

figure 2. Peg warmly brings Edward into her home.
A touching and charming story of a modern day Beauty and the Beast, with music to back this further from Danny Elfman, Edward Scissorhands directed by Tim Burton displays how simple acts of kindness and pity can go further than anybody could ever expect.

figure 3. The ever-curious Avon representative
 catches a glimpse an odd sight.
The dark gloomy mansion of lonely Edward compared to the whimsically bright and colourful neighbourhood (figure 2, 3) below it holds a stark difference in the way the themes of the film are handled. – Though only appearance. Edward, tightly strung-together outfit almost acting as skin cluttered by belts and buckles is much more kind, forgiving and coy in nature. The longing stare towards Kim (play by Winona Ryder) as he is asked “Do you have anyone special?” or the very first instance where he tells Peg, the curiously pushy Avon representative not to go. “He almost never says anything, and when he does, the voice that comes out is shockingly soft and delicate, full of a child's serene wonder.” (Gleiberman, 1990) Exactly as Gleiberman puts it, he is as innocent as can be though perhaps this cannot be said about the rest his new-found friends and neighbours. They are more superficial and only ever “endorse” the scissor-handed man when he can provide a use to them. Cutting perfectly sculpted bushes, haircuts or doggy-makeovers! As Roger Ebert says quite rightly, “all of their actions were inspired by shallow melodramatic motivations.” (Ebert, 1990)

figure 4. Squabbling Chickens.
One thing that remains slightly off about this film is the nature of acceptance that is so perfectly balanced at times it shows Tim Burton’s sensitive use of secondary commentary to infer something other than “do not judge a book by it’s cover”. The levels of conformity glazed over with choice Edward Scissorhands presents is one of great unnerving stature. You may pick from three colours, but so can everbody else, thus no one is as original as they would like to think. One great quote from Edward himself is as the Satanic-obsessed woman comes in and asks if they as sheep have “strayed too far from the path” to which Edward responds, “we aren’t sheep”. From this the matter of acceptance arises. “His talent (trimming topiary animals or fashioning women’s hair styles) derives from the physical abnormality from which he gets his names; the very characteristic the separates him from everyone else also makes him special.” (Biodrowski, 2000) And with this comes a great backdoor of being able to be taken advantage of. Throughout the film however, the Boggs family are the only ones who truly see Edward for a person rather than an asset for cutting things into (however well made) pieces. Infact they are but only pleased when the Boggs realise he has talent as well as being someone who should generally be appreciated and valued. Because of this, they are not sheep indeed! Yes, they fit in; but they do not conform in the same way that the rest of the neighbourhood does. 

Speaking of which, the neighbourhood primarily made up of women are shown to be a group of squabbling chickens going back and forth conversing with each other in order to make a decision about anything. The ultimate conformity! Then the men, only ever being able to say “I know a doctor who could fix you” but never followed up on and as if it will fix all his problems that, aren’t even Edward’s himself. Edward doesn’t have many problems, minus his scissor hands, but people create problems with him.

figure. 5
Edward Scissorhands could have been another “Beauty and the Beast”-type story. Shallow, and concerned only with appearance but with ulterior commentary from Tim Burton’s part, infact maybe a mirror of himself and how it feels to grow up as an outsider who cannot conform no matter how hard he tries; the 1990 film becomes a caring and heart-wrenching story about a man with scissors for hands.


Illustration List:

Burton, T. (1990). [image] Available at: [Accessed 10 Nov. 2014].

Figure 1: Burton, T. (1990). Film Still 1. [image] Available at: [Accessed 10 Nov. 2014].

Figure 2: Burton, T. (1990). Film Still 2. [image] Available at: [Accessed 10 Nov. 2014].

Figure 3: Burton, T. (1990). Film Still 3. [image] Available at: [Accessed 10 Nov. 2014].

Figure 4: Burton, T. (1990). Film Still 4. [image] Available at: [Accessed 10 Nov. 2014].


Biodrowski, S. (2000). Edward Scissorhands – Film & DVD Review | Cinefantastique Online. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Nov. 2014].

Ebert, R. (1990). Edward Scissorhands Movie Review (1990) | Roger Ebert. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Nov. 2014].

Gleiberman, O. (1990). Movie Review: Edward Scissorhands | [online] Available at:,,20609141_318762,00.html [Accessed 10 Nov. 2014].


  1. Hi Ella,

    You are obviously putting a lot of thought into your reviews - well done :)

    Just check out my previous comments on the formatting - it takes away from the academic 'voice' of your writing, to have your text centred like you have... use the 'justify' option, or at the very least, align it to the left.
    Also, don't forget that the quotes need to be in italics, along with the film names.

    1. Oh darn, I completely misunderstood "centering" and didn't take it literally at all. I'll stop aligning it to the centre, thank you!