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Edward Scissorhands is a 1990 American romantic family dark fantasy horror film directed by Tim Burton, produced by Denise Di Novi and Tim Burton, and written by Caroline Thompson from a story by Tim Burton and Caroline Thompson, starring Johnny Depp as an artificial man named Edward, an unfinished creation who has scissor blades instead of hands. The young man is taken in by a suburban family and falls in love with their teenage daughter Kim (Winona Ryder). Additional roles were played by Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, Kathy Baker, Vincent Price, and Alan Arkin.

Plot Edit

An elderly woman tells her granddaughter the story of a young man named Edward who has scissor blades for hands. As the creation of an old Inventor, Edward is an artificially created human who is almost completed. The Inventor homeschools Edward, but suffers a heart attack and dies before he could attach hands to Edward.

Some years earlier, Peg Boggs, a local Avon door-to-door saleswoman, visits the decrepit Gothic mansion where Edward lives. She finds Edward alone and offers to take him to her home after discovering he is virtually harmless. Peg introduces Edward to her family: her husband Bill, their young son Kevin, and their teenage daughter Kim. The family come to see Edward as a kind person, though Kim is initially fearful of him.

The Boggses' neighbors are curious about their new house guest, and the Boggses throw a neighborhood barbecue welcoming Edward. Most of the neighbors are fascinated by Edward and befriend him, except for the eccentric religious fanatic Esmeralda and Kim's boyfriend Jim. Edward repays the neighborhood for their kindness by trimming their hedges into topiaries. This leads him to discover he can groom dogs' hair, and later he styles the hair of the neighborhood women. One of the neighbors, Joyce, offers to help Edward open a hair salon. While scouting a location, Joyce attempts to seduce Edward, but scares him away. Joyce tells the neighborhood women that he attempted to seduce her, reducing their trust in him. The bank refuses to give Edward a loan as he does not have a background or financial history.

Jealous of Kim's attraction to Edward, Jim suggests Edward pick the lock on his parents' home to obtain a van for Jim and Kim. Edward agrees, but when he picks the lock, a burglar alarm is triggered. Jim flees and Edward is arrested. The police determine that his period of isolation has left Edward without any sense of reality or common sense. Edward takes responsibility for the robbery, telling a surprised Kim he did it because she asked him to. Edward is shunned by those in the neighborhood except for the Boggses.

During Christmas, Edward carves an angelic ice sculpture modeled after Kim; the ice shavings are thrown into the air and fall like snow, a rarity for the neighborhood. Kim dances in the snowfall. Jim arrives and calls out to Edward, surprising him and causing him to accidentally cut Kim's hand. Jim accuses Edward of intentionally harming Kim, but Kim, fed up with Jim's jealousy, breaks up with him. Edward flees in a rage, destroying his works until he is calmed by a stray dog. Kim’s parents set out to find Edward while Kim stays behind in case he returns. Edward does return to the Boggs home to find Kim there who asks him to hold her, but Edward fears he will hurt her. Jim drives around in a drunken rage and nearly runs over Kevin, but Edward pushes Kevin to safety, inadvertently cutting him. This causes those witnessing the event to think that Edward is attacking Kevin, and Jim tries attacking Edward. Edward defends himself, cutting Jim's arm, and then flees to the mansion.

Kim races after Edward, while Jim obtains a handgun and follows Kim. In the mansion, Jim ambushes Edward and fights with him; Edward refuses to fight back until he sees Jim slap Kim as she attempts to intervene. Enraged, Edward stabs Jim and pushes him out of the mansion through a window to his death. Kim confesses her love to Edward and kisses him before departing. As the police and neighbors gather, Kim leads them to believe that Jim and Edward killed each other.

The elderly woman finishes telling her granddaughter the story, revealing that she is Kim and saying that she never saw Edward again. She prefers not to visit him because decades have passed and she wants him to remember her as she was in her youth. She thinks Edward is still alive, immortal because he is artificial, and because of the "snow" which Edward creates when carving ice sculptures.

Cast Edit

  • Johnny Depp as Edward
  • Winona Ryder as Kim Boggs
  • Dianne Wiest as Peg Boggs
  • Anthony Michael Hall as Jim
  • Kathy Baker as Joyce
  • Robert Oliveri as Kevin Boggs
  • Conchata Ferrell as Helen
  • Caroline Aaron as Marge
  • Dick Anthony Williams as Officer Allen
  • O-Lan Jones as Esmeralda
  • Vincent Price as The Inventor
  • Alan Arkin as Bill Boggs

Production Edit

The genesis of Edward Scissorhands came from a drawing by then-teenaged director Tim Burton, which reflected his feelings of isolation and being unable to communicate to people around him in suburban Burbank. The drawing depicted a thin, solemn man with long, sharp blades for fingers. Burton stated that he was often alone and had trouble retaining friendships. "I get the feeling people just got this urge to want to leave me alone for some reason, I don't know exactly why." During pre-production of Beetlejuice, Burton hired Caroline Thompson, then a young novelist, to write the Edward Scissorhands screenplay as a spec script. Burton was impressed with her short novel, First Born, which was "about an abortion that came back to life". Burton felt First Born had the same psychological elements he wanted to showcase in Edward Scissorhands. "Every detail was so important to Tim because it was so personal", Thompson remarked. She wrote Scissorhands as a "love poem" to Burton, calling him "the most articulate person I know, but couldn't put a single sentence together".

Shortly after Thompson's hiring, Burton began to develop Edward Scissorhands at Warner Bros., with whom he worked on Pee-wee's Big Adventure and Beetlejuice. However, within a couple of months, Warner sold the film rights to 20th Century Fox. Fox agreed to finance Thompson's screenplay while giving Burton complete creative control. At the time, the budget was projected to be around $8–9 million. When writing the storyline, Burton and Thompson were influenced by Universal Horror films, such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), The Phantom of the Opera (1925)Frankenstein (1931), and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), as well as King Kong (1933) and various fairy tales. Burton originally wanted to make Scissorhands as a musical, feeling "it seemed big and operatic to me", but later dropped the idea. Following the enormous success of Batman, Burton arrived to the status of being an A-list director. He had the opportunity to do any film he wanted, but rather than fast track Warner Bros.' choices for Batman Returns or Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian, Burton opted to make Edward Scissorhands for Fox.

Casting Edit

Although Winona Ryder was the first cast member attached to the script, Dianne Wiest was the first to sign on. "Dianne, in particular, was wonderful", Burton said. "She was the first actress to read the script, supported it completely and, because she is so respected, once she had given it her stamp of approval, others soon got interested". When it came to casting the lead role of Edward, several actors were considered; Fox was insistent on having Burton meet with Tom Cruise. "He certainly wasn't my ideal, but I talked to him", Burton remembered. "He was interesting, but I think it worked out for the best. A lot of questions came up". Cruise asked for a "happier" ending. Tom Hanks and Gary Oldman turned down the part, Hanks in favor of critical and commercial flop The Bonfire of the Vanities. Oldman found the story to be absurd, but understood it after watching "literally two minutes" of the completed film. Jim Carrey was also considered for the role, while Thompson favored John Cusack. Elsewhere, William Hurt, Robert Downey Jr. and musician Michael Jackson expressed interest, although Burton neglected to converse with Jackson.

Though Burton was unfamiliar with Johnny Depp's then-popular performance in 21 Jump Street, he had always been Burton's first choice. At the time of his casting, Depp was wanting to break out of the teen idol status which his performance in 21 Jump Street had afforded him. When he was sent the script, Depp "wept like a newborn" and immediately found personal and emotional connections with the story. In preparation for the role, Depp watched many Charlie Chaplin films to study the idea of creating sympathy without dialogue. Fox studio executives were so worried about Edward's image, that they tried to keep pictures of Depp in full costume under wraps until release of the film. Burton approached Ryder for the role of Kim Boggs based on their positive working experience in Beetlejuice. Drew Barrymore previously auditioned for the role. Crispin Glover auditioned for the role of Jim before Anthony Michael Hall was cast.

Kathy Baker saw her part of Joyce, the neighbor who tries to seduce Edward, as a perfect chance to break into comedy. Alan Arkin says when he first read the script, he was "a bit baffled. Nothing really made sense to me until I saw the sets. Burton's visual imagination is extraordinary". The role of The Inventor was written specifically for Vincent Price, and would ultimately be his final feature film role. Burton commonly watched Price's films as a child, and, after completing Vincent, the two became good friends. Robert Oliveri was cast as Kevin, Kim's younger brother. Nick Carter from The Backstreet Boys plays an uncredited role as the blond boy playing on the Slip 'n Slide as Edward rides in Peg's car through suburbia.

Filming Edit

Burbank, California was considered as a possible location for the suburban neighborhoods, but Burton believed the city had become too altered since his childhood so the Tampa Bay Area of Florida, including the town of Lutz, inside of the subdivision named Carpenter's Run, and the Southgate Shopping Center of Lakeland was chosen for a three-month shooting schedule. The production crew found, in the words of the production designer Bo Welch, "a kind of generic, plain-wrap suburb, which we made even more characterless by painting all the houses in faded pastels, and reducing the window sizes to make it look a little more paranoid." The key element to unify the look of the neighborhood was Welch's decision to repaint each of the houses in one of four colors, which he described as "sea-foam green, dirty flesh, butter, and dirty blue". The facade of the Gothic mansion was built just outside Dade City. Filming Edward Scissorhands created hundreds of (temporary) jobs and injected over $4 million into the Tampa Bay economy. Production then moved to a Fox Studios sound stage in Century City, California, where interiors of the mansion were filmed.

To create Edward's scissor hands, Burton employed Stan Winston, who would later design the Penguin's prosthetic makeup in Batman Returns. Depp's wardrobe and prosthetic makeup took one hour and 45 minutes to apply. The giant topiaries that Edward creates in the film were made by wrapping metal skeletons in chicken wire, then weaving in thousands of small plastic plant sprigs. Rick Heinrichs worked as one of the art directors.