This wonderful fairytale is the first time that Tim Burton, Danny Elfman and Johnny Depp have all worked together on a film. They have three subsequent movies together and they are all simply magical. I just don’t think they can do wrong when the three of them are together, they make such a wonderful team and really seem to understand where each other is coming from.
Peg (Dianne Wiest) is the first character we meet in the movie. She is a lovely woman, thoughtful, mild-mannered and sweet. However, she is a horrible at being an “Avon Lady” (not for lack of trying on her part). After having no luck around town she decides to go up to the gloomy castle on top of the hill and try her luck there. This is when she discovers Edward (Johnny Depp).
Edward is living up there by himself. She is shocked to discover that instead of hands, he has very large scissors. Obviously, this makes everyday life rather difficult, as evidenced by all the scars on his face. Throughout the movie we see flashbacks that explain how Edward came to be and why he has scissors for hands.
Peg can’t bring herself to leave him there alone, so she decides he should come and live with her family. Her husband and son seem to readily accept him into the family. There is a fabulous “family dinner” scene on his first night there. It shows the dynamic of the family and how they don’t seem all that concerned that she brought home an unusual stranger to live with them.
The only member of the family that is missing is their daughter, Kim (Winona Ryder). She is currently away on a camping trip. Since she isn’t home, Peg has Edward sleep in Kim’s room. Which leads to her surprise discovery of Edward when she arrives home unexpectedly in the middle of the night. Kim isn’t as immediately accepting of Edward as the rest of the family was.
Having a new, “mystery” person in the neighborhood causes quite the buzz. All the neighbors are dying to meet him. The women in particular are fawning all over him. They also start discovering the talents he posses, such as creating topiaries and giving haircuts to dogs. Which of course leads to the women also wanting their hair cut by him. The cuts are wonderfully quirky; they look like something out of Dr. Suess.
Unfortunately for Edward, Kim’s boyfriend, Jim (Anthony Michael Hall) takes a dislike to him. Jim doesn’t like that Edward has a crush on Kim and torments him all he can. Jim also manages to get him in legal trouble. I guess you can’t have a fairytale without a villain.
The visual style in the movie is just gorgeous. I love the dramatic difference between the dark and gloomy castle on the hill; the beautiful, colorful, surreal topiary garden at the castle and the cookie cutter tract homes with the vivid paint colors. The music is terrific and suits the movie so well.
The actors are all perfectly cast for their roles. I particularly liked the interaction between Johnny and Dianne. His character is so innocent and vulnerable. Hers is so caring and protective of him. They both were incredible and you could really feel a mother/son type bond between them.
I read somewhere Johnny only spoke 169 words during the entire movie. I’m not sure if that is correct (I’m not crazy enough to take the time to count them up) but I do know that he had very little dialogue. You don’t miss him talking though, because he is so expressive in other ways. Johnny is just a fabulous actor.
I was thrilled to see Vincent Price, as the Inventor. It was a small but moving/memorable part. I have always been a fan of his and it was lovely to see him in the movie.
Some of my favorite quotes:
Peg – “Think how it would make you feel if someone were staring at you.”
Kevin – “I wouldn’t care.”
Peg – “Well, I would, so don’t do it!”
Kevin – “Man, those things are cool. You know, I bet they’re razor sharp. One karate chop to a guy’s neck …”
Peg – “Kevin!”
Kevin – “Can I bring him to show and tell on Monday?”
Bill – “No, no, no, that’s a terrible idea, son. Go to the garage and get the oilcan. We don’t want him rusting up on us now, do we.”
Peg – “Goodness you scared him half to death.”
Kim – “I scared him to death?”
Bill – “Sweetheart, you can’t buy the necessities of life with cookies.”
Peg – “No matter what, Edward will always be special.”
For those of you that don’t know Danny Elfman is the former frontman of the band “Oingo Boingo”. Their music is amazing and unique. I had the good fortune to see them perform live back in 1989 and they were absolutely fabulous. Danny was such an incredible, energetic frontman and was a joy to watch.
Following is additional information about the movie that contains spoilers. If you don’t want to be spoiled don’t read any further.
I really didn’t like Jim. He was just evil. He only cared about himself, what he wanted and didn’t care if he hurt anyone else. Although, I have to say Anthony Michael Hall was excellent at being a bad guy. Hard to believe he’s the same guy that played the nerd on “The Breakfast Club”.
The ending was so tragic. Kim finally realizes she loves Edward, but it’s too late. There is no way to straighten out everything that has happened. I guess he’s destined to live up on the hill all alone.