For the first time in over a year, I mentioned to a few people that I had not seen [insert movie here] and I was not met with a look of judgmental horror. Now, insert Edward Scissorhands and please mind your manners as you read on.
So help me if, as a kid, I politely avoided watching this movie because the posters I saw of Johnny Depp scared the living shit out of me. And so help me if, as an adult, I never really found Depp fascinating enough to peruse his canon of beloved movies. The reason why I finally decided to break the cycle was simple, really: Everyone who has watched it loves it, so much so that it elicits this sweet, practically universal facial expression. I’m a sucker for genuine sentimentality. Edward was a true delight.
I’m pretty sure this has been said before, but Edward Scissorhands is probably the father of steampunk. He’s all metal and leather and dishevelment, but for more utilitarian reasons than the trend now accommodates. He’s also super adorable in his getup, whereas most people who try to copy it just end up looking strapped into themselves. Even in his loud clothes, with his mechanical walk, he seems comfortable. Until he talks to people, anyway.
Depp didn’t talk much in this movie. His lines probably fit on less than five pages. But all the acting was in the eyes and the hands. He spends most of the film in various subtle, heartbreaking states of bewilderment, showing it by bugging his eyes and twitching his metallic phelanges. And even though his intended function was unclear–stupid Vincent Price Frankenstein just created a person for no reason?–his purpose was clearer than crystal. He was made to shape foliage and melt hearts, two by two. No matter if he sliced things in the interim.
Being the nitpick that I am, I want to pose a couple of lingering questions: One, how did Edward keep himself alive alone in the castle if he couldn’t even consume food that was presented to him on a plate? Ten knives for fingers do not a cutlery set make. Explain, Tim Burton. And two, why, exactly, did Anthony Michael Hall’s character have to die? That seemed like a bit much. An arrest would have sufficed. The whole murder thing at the end sort of gave me a weird feeling about Edward being the pure antihero that he was, but at least we know that he kept to himself after that, and didn’t disturb Winona Ryder as she aged very ungracefully. (Sorry, Stan Winston, but you are no Rick Baker.)