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Transcript of Edward Scissorhands
and Allie White
"Edward Scissorhands , a sensitive modern fairy tale, took me by surprise . . . Of the films overlooked by the Oscars this year, Edward Scissorhands is the most glaring omission. Few films have the power to make you laugh and cry at the same time, but this totally original fairy tale, which shines on every level—from Burton's striking visual sense to Danny Elfman’s evocative musical score—does so repeatedly. One of the best films for young adults in recent years, this is highly recommended."
-R. Pitman, Library Journal, 1991
Burton . . . first
sketched the pale,
character when he
himself was a
teenager in Burbank . . . ."
Bettelheim, Bruno. "Introduction: The Struggle for Meaning."
Clarke, Julie. "All Too Human: Edward Scissorhands." Screen Education 50 (n.d.): 93. Informit Humanities & Social Sciences Collection. Web. 25 Sept. 2013.
"Edward Scissorhands." Dir. Tim Burton. Perf. Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, and Vincent Prince. CBS/Fox Video, 1990. Film.
Pitman, R. "Edward Scissorhands." Library Journal 116.11 (1991): 120. Business Source Premier. Web. 25 Sept. 2013.
Potter, Russell A. "Edward Schizohands: The Postmodern Gothic Body." Postmodern Culture: An Electronic Journal Of Interdisciplinary Criticism 2.3 (1992): MLA International Bibliography. Web. 25 Sept. 2013.
Rottenberg, Josh. "7. EDWARD SCISSORHANDS. (Cover Story)." Entertainment Weekly 1105/1106 (2010): 47. MAS Ultra - School Edition. Web. 25 Sept. 2013.
Sampson, Cory. "Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands as a Psychological Allegory." The Tim Burton Collective. Web. 13 Sept. 2013.
Beaumont's "Beauty and the Beast" Edward Scissorhands
magic enchantment scientific invention
magic curse "curse" of scissorhands
Beast's castle Kim's neighborhood
Beauty captive Edward captive
absence of mother presence of mother
multiple suitors Jim
Happily Ever After Separation
Beast's physical Edward's inner
The unique message of Edward
Scissorhands is the fact that Edward
and Kim do not end up together--
the traditional Happily Ever After
is absent, as well as the physical
transformation of the "beast" into a
Fitting In: The Journey to
Finding the Beauty or
Edward is created because of
the Inventor's sense of lack
and loneliness. His love and
care for Edward causes us to
categorize his inner progression
as "Beauty ---> Beautiful."
"Nothing is more important than the impact
of parents and others who take care of [a]
-Bruno Bettelheim: The Struggle for Meaning
Although the Inventor did his best to teach Edward about morality and social behavior through literature, the texts proved superficial and inadequate, as shown when Edward's moral compass is called into question at the Boggs's dinner table.
"Much of the literature intended to develop [a] child's mind and personality . . . fails to stimulate and nurture those resources he needs most in order to cope with his difficult inner problems . . . Most of these books are so shallow in substance that little of significance can be gained from them."
-Bruno Bettelheim: The Struggle for Meaning
"By placing [Edward] in a
Gothic mansion replete
with winding staircase
and decorative interiors,
Burton reminds us that
historically those with anomalous
bodily forms were isolated from the
rest of the community in institutions
(often disused mansions) or else
paraded as public curiosities."
-Julie Clarke. All Too Human:
"Beauty ---> Beautiful"
nurturing (the mother figure of the whole town)
"Beastly ---> Monsters"
"The cookie-cutter device demonstrates the ability of a machine to reproduce multiple copies of a single unit over and over again- a reference to the clone-like, homogenous individuals who live in identical suburban houses where . . . the film's narrative is set."
-Julie Clarke. All Too Human: Edward Scissorhands
Highly Imaginative Character
The psychiatrist at the police station states that Edward is a "highly imaginative character . . . [whose] awareness of what we call reality is radically underdeveloped."
Various people in the community say the following things to or about Edward:
"You can get one of those handicap placards, no problem; park anywhere you like."
"I know a doctor who might be able to help you."
"Have they found him yet? That cripple?"
Esmerelda, the "loony" born-again Christian neighbor, calls Edward a "perversion of nature."
"It's not Heaven where he's from, it's from the stinking flames of Hell! The power of Satan is in him, I can feel it!"
While you watched the film, did any of your own diagnoses for Edward come to mind?
What might all these different diagnoses say about Edward and his role as the beast?
Many people familiar with Asperger's Syndrome have attributed Edward's difficulty in social situations to this autistic spectrum disorder.
"Often, individuals with Asperger's Syndrome desire social interaction, but are unable to perform socially due to this deficit in interpreting subtle and unwritten social rules. Often individuals with Asperger's Syndrome will excel in one particular . . . subject, which they pursue with abnormal intensity and focus."
-Cory Sampson: Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands as a Psychological Allegory
"Potential for Beauty
starts out as a typical teen
embarrassed by Edward
regrets using/betraying him
begins to see his inner beauty
falls in love
"Troubled Teen ---> The Beast"
Jim's inner degradation takes him from being the jealous boyfriend to the true Beast in this story.
"I'm not finished."
When Peg first finds Edward, his concerns are that he's lonely ("Don't go."), and that he's incomplete without hands. Edward's personality is gentle, timid, and kind.
When Edward descends into cookie-cutter suburbia, his sense of self becomes dictated by how society sees him. When they call him "exceptional," he and his creativity thrive.
In a self-fulfilling prophecy, Edward lashes out when the neighborhood turns against him. Through a series of others' lies and misunderstandings, he is now seen as dangerous and "not even human." Though Edward had left his artistic mark on the neighborhood with his shrubbery sculptures and haircuts, the animosity of the town puts the idea in his head that his "own mark is that of the wound, for everything he touches is cut, severed, disjointed." -Russell Potter. Edward Schizohands: The Postmodern Gothic Body
It takes Kim's profession of love and a kiss (his lips being the only skin that is available to be touched by her) to transform Edward's beastly sense of self into a beautiful one.
This kiss comes after Edward's most violent display yet: his slaying of Jim to protect Kim. Her acceptance of Edward-every aspect of him-awakens in him the self-acceptance he needs in order to live alone.
So Who is Edward, Anyway?
Edward's Progression From Thinking He
is Beastly to Realizing He Is Beautiful
Edward and Kim do not end up together. What conclusions (about the characters, the story, and about human nature) might be drawn from such an ending?
We all experience insecurities and handicaps (whether physical, mental, or emotional) at some
point in our lives. Rather than allowing these
difficulties to bring out our inner beasts, it's up to
us to open ourselves to relationships and
experiences which will allow beauty to come
flooding inward, and go radiating outward.
The mansion is Edward's "fantasy space;" a figurative "snow globe . . . that contain[s] an enclosed, enchanted view of the world." -Julie Clarke. All Too Human: Edward Scissorhands.