Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Edward Scissorhands

US movie (1990). 20th Century-Fox. Pr Tim Burton, Denise Di Novi. Exec pr Richard Hashimoto. Dir Burton. Spfx/mufx Stan Winston Studio, Michael Wood. Vfx VCE, Peter Kuran. Screenplay Caroline Thompson. Starring Johnny Depp (Edward Scissorhands), Anthony Michael Hall (Jim), Robert Oliveri (Kevin Boggs), Vincent Price (Inventor), Winona Ryder (Kim Boggs), Dianne Wiest (Peg Boggs). 98 mins. Colour.

On a hill above a pastel-coloured suburb is a castle. Here dwelt a Frankenstein-style inventor, who died just before completing his Monster. Peg, an Avon Lady desperate for clients, calls and finds a timid youth with two masses of blades in place of hands. She takes him into her family and names him Edward; soon he is lionized for his useful dexterity with the blades, and Peg's daughter Kim comes to love him. But public opinion turns: the Ugly Duckling is made a scapegoat and must flee back to the sanctuary of the castle. A vastly aged Kim, who has been telling this story to her granddaughter (see Frame Story), adds the explanation that he must still be there, for the snowflakes falling outside the house are in reality splinters from the ice-statues he carves with those ever busy scissorhands.

ESH is an attempt to construct a modern-day Fairytale and so, as in many fairytales, the ambience is stripped down to mere basics: the suburb is never related to any greater world, and the passage of time is fitful (one moment it is summer, the next Christmas). Again traditionally, ESH incorporates many Recursive elements. The net effect of such ploys, designed presumably to make the tale universal and immediate, is unfortunately to distance us from it. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.