The most private movie of Tim Burton: Edward Scissorhands

Starring Johnny Depp, Edward Scissorhands is one of the representative films of director Tim Burton, and also the first cooperation between Burton and Depp that have worked repeatedly for almost 30 years. In the movie, Edward, an unfinished artificial man who has scissor blades instead of hands, is taken to a suburban family from the castle, and falls in love with a girl. Edward Scissorhands is famous for its amazing skills of makeup and production design, and it was nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling for Oscars. The image of the leading actor Edward and the dreaming community in the film have impressed many movie-lovers.


The concept of Edward Scissorhands from the painting of the director in high school

“I tend to see the dark side.” Tim Burton’s films are noted for the unique dark, gothic, and eccentric horror and fantasy style. Known as the dark comedy genius, Burton was an introspective person during his lonely childhood. He devoted himself to painting by which he expressed his feelings and thoughts toward the world, and the concept of Edward Scissorhands was inspired by one of his paintings. The scissor blades which replace the hands of Edward make him unable to touch others, which is a symbol of Burton’s loneness and struggle that he had a hard time getting along with other at a juvenile age. “I had never truly been in an intimate relationship, and I also had no friends. I always had a feeling that people ended up leaving me. I don’t know why I thought this way all the time,” Burton said. “This is a story about inability to be touched and to communicate with others. Just like Edward is doomed to be misunderstood.”

Director Tim Burton attends the photocall of the film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children in Rome, Italy, on December 6, 2016. Photo by Eric Vandeville/Sipa USA(Sipa via AP Images)

The classic image of scissorhands

“Johnny Depp’s eyes talk without making sound,” Tim Burton said. Wearing black leather tights and the hands being made up with blades, Edward Scissorhands’ strong image has impressed many audiences. Despite his scary and complex makeup and outfits, Edward is the one who has the purest heart and acts like a human-being the most in the film. Edward starring Johnny Depp has only 169 words of lines in the movie; thus, in order to deal with Edward’s expressions, Depp watched a lot of Chaplin’s silent movies. “Burton emphasized Edward’s pure personality. To me, Edward is a symbol of the sense of helplessness that everyone has faced in different life stages. When feeling useless, you think whatever you do is going wrong,” Depp said.

The origin character of Edward is based on the painting that Burton drew in the high school. This was only the draft and there were some lines on the hands without fingers. The makeup artist of Jurassic Park Stan Winston came up with an idea that the fingers could be replaced by real scissors to build up his unapproachable image. It took Depp about 2 hours every day to make up for Edward’s outfits. “If my creation is able to set up a character, increasing the interactions between actors and audiences, then those customs and properties can also become a unique performing fashion which makes roles more realistic and enriches the movie,” Winston said.

Dreaming Community

The art director Bo Welch claimed he took Edward Scissorhands back to the “forgotten times.” Before digital and computer effects have been widely used, all the settings and properties of decor scenery should be hand-made by carpenters and set designer. Therefore, the community of pink tone and the design of bushes in the yard were all created by the set dressers.

The film was shot in Lutz, Florida, and Welch said that in the beginning, they visited each householder for asking for consent to transform their houses, and it took time to communicate with every resident. “In the beginning, they didn’t like the change, but with the shooting, they were getting used to it.” “We built this community which was seen through Edward’s eyes,” he said. Bo Welch thought for Edward living in a castle for long time, the light and soft colors of the community attracted him. In addition, he shrank the windows of the houses in the community to show the selfishness and unfriendliness of the neighbors in the movie.

To the director Tim Burton, making movies is a pretty private thing. If permitted, he rather puts them in a drawer than shares with others. “I question why I have to do this often. I hate to release my movies, which makes me very nervous. Then I will talk to myself: ‘What am I doing? What am I doing? What am I doing?”

To some, no matter movies or paintings are a process of creators to express themselves. Perhaps the director combined personal experience into the works, which resonates with the audiences, and that is one of the reasons why Edward Scissorhands has been so popular until now.