‘Edward Scissorhands, a Christmas film? Surely not!’ I hear you cry. But I guarantee it- once you realize that this film is all about the search for love, innocence and belonging (three massively Christmassy themes,) you won’t be able to see it any other way. The story centers around Edward (Johnny Depp), a gentle creature in the vein of Frankenstein’s monster who is put together by a kind but elderly inventor who –quite irresponsibly, actually- is so well into his twilight years when he starts his project that he dies before he can give his creation hands. Edward is thus left lonely and unfinished in the inventor’s gothic mansion forever stuck with what was intended to be a temporary solution- scissors for hands.
Intensely naive, impressionable and desperate for love, Edward consents to go with avon lady Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest) and stay with her in candy-coloured suburban neigbourhood, with her candy-coloured suburban family. At first Edward is a novelty (handy for all your hedge-trimming and hair cutting needs,) but soon the misunderstood Edward is vilified as the monster we all knew he would be made out to be.
Johnny Depp and Danny Elfman (the only actor and composer Burton seems to have in his phonebook) come together under Tim Burton’s direction (which has never since been so imaginative or sensitive) to make a truly magical and haunting piece of cinema. When you watch this movie you can almost imagine Burton jumping up and down and screaming ‘It’s alive!’ like the eponymous scientist in 1931’s classic horror Frankenstein.
Edward Scissorhands is Burton’s masterpiece, and Burton is Edward, the outcast-genius discovering the golden, subverted, gothic formula which he has tried to apply to every other one of his cinematic ventures with little success. And this makes more and more sense when you look at the fact that Burton has often compared himself -and been compared by others- to the Edward character, having grown up in sunny Burbank California as the introspective kid with an Edgar-Allen Poe obsession.
So what makes Edward Scissorhands such an exquisite Christmas film?
Outside the refuge of his ‘father’s’ mansion, the environment Edward finds himself in is summery, liquorice coloured, conventional and ultimately hostile. In amongst the vulgar townspeople, popular cheerleader Kim Boggs (Winona Ryder) who at first shuns Edward, eventually sees that underneath his strange appearance he has a tender heart (and is also Johnny Depp and therefore still hot) and falls for him.
The sickly sweet colours of the town perfectly contrast the wintery hues of the gothic mansion high up on the hill and the snow-spray which falls from Edward’s ice sculptures reminds the jaded townspeople (and the audience) of the innocence they have lost by touching them with his own. If you have ever wondered if you are made of stone, I defy you to watch the iconic scene where flame-haired Winona Ryder dances under the snow spray of Edward’s ice angel as Christmas trees glitter in the window and Elfman’s haunting score plays in the background.