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FEATURE EDWARD SCISSORHANDS
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opposite of what he's seen as. The themes of image and perception. ofsomebody being viewed as something opposite to what he is. was something that was important to me. and something he could relate to.‘
Don‘t get the idea that this is one for the arthouses though. Burton plays a masterly balancing act between the considerations of making serious points. and retaining a
5 commercial edge. The casting of real-life
lovers Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp was a shrewd touch. with more than a hint of mischief. Depp‘s previous image has been as the cool dude. all curling lip and quiff. As Edward he achieves a nice line in vulnerability. although you do tend to
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wonder how he can fashion intricate hairdos to perfection. but can't scratch his nose without needing stitches. Ryder is suitably ingenuous as the wild child with the heart of gold. The temptation must have been to go hell-for-leather for the romance angle. but. to his credit. Burton is trying to tell a more
complex story than that.
The early part of the film certainly revels in Edward‘s capacity for the cute. llis ready welcome from the neighlmurhood. féted at barbecues. and vamped by sexually frustrated housewives are all the stuffof ! broad comedy. At this stage. there is a serious danger ofthis becoming a 'nice~ film. Burton is smarter than that. however. Not
for him the sickliness of Spielberg. Instead.
he offers us a rather pointed assault on the casual hypocrisy and emptiness of small-town suburban existence. We are given a wonderful aerial shot of all the pastel-coloured houses (Burton got permission to repaint the whole village of Land ()‘Lakes in Florida — there's a psychological treatise begging to be written about the lengths people will go to to get in the movies) with their toylike cars heading off to the office.
Burton has a keen eye for the minutiae of a
closed community that was all rigid social mores and painfully kitsch interior design. ‘I grew tip there.‘ he says. ‘lt‘s like growing up in a place where there‘s no sense of history. culture. passion for anything. You’re either forced to go into it and cut out a large
portion of your personality. or you develop a I
very strong interior life which makes you feel separated from it.‘ The second halfof the film. where the locals turn against Edward is distinctly disturbing. as the colourful Christmas-lit town takes on a manic edge. hurtling down the outsider. Fairytales were originally gruesome morality tales. packed with details of dismembered children. ravenous wolves. poison. and people being baked in pies. The 20th century anthologists. and particularly Burton's old employers Disney were responsible for damping them down to become banal homilies about the inadvisability of accepting apples from strangers. In [2d ward .S'cissur/zands. Burton has managed to give the format back some of its nastiness. and take a few potshots at Suburbiaville. USA at the same time. It’s alsoia very funny. uplifting and entertaining film. Who knows. those accountants might
just get their money back.
lid ward .S'r‘is'mr/zands has a wide release
across ( 'enrral Scotland from 9 A ugusl
Few national heart throbs make a career move that demands a daily two-hour session in the special effects make-up chair and mastery of 12‘ long scissorhand appendages, but for Johnny Depp, the goth-like titular character in Edward Scissorhands, if provided a role that distanced him from his pretty boy good looks.
Four seasons as OfficerTom Hanson
in the American cop television series 21 Jump Street had put him on poster-adorned walls across the length and breadth of the country, from his
native Kentucky to his current home of
8 The List BoJuly — 8 August 1991
New York City. This was an image he had already sent up to a certain extent by appearing, again in the title role, in John Waters’ 1990 film Cry Baby, where he played a juvenile delinquent local rock star. Previously, his big screen appearances had included Slow Burn, Platoon, and A Nightmare on Elm Street— a part he had won only two days after his first-ever audition.
Preparation for the part of Edward included detailed study of Charlie Chaplin films so that the young actor could observe the particularly expressive acting style and body movement at the silent star. Director Tim Burton was obviously impressed, as he has since gone on record saying: ‘I feel sad for Johnny a lot of the time. He's perceived by his looks . . . and I just kind ol relate to him because of that. Not because of the looks, but because he’s not that way at all, he’s a misunderstood soul.’
Misunderstood or not, Depp is certainly the envy of many an actor and red-blooded male. Not only is he engaged to screen partner Winona Ryder, he has just signed a multi-picture development deal with
Twentieth Century Fox that will see him ;
graduate from star to producer in the nearluture.
who provided her with her first big
With nine films and nine teenage roles already under her belt, many would say that Winona Ryder holds the monopoly on slightly strange on-screen adolescents. Perhaps this isn’t such a surprise, considering that she is only nineteen and had a fairly odd counterculture upbringing, where the likes of Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg were good lriends of the family.
Edward Scissorhands is her second collaboration with director Tim Burton,
breakthrough as Lydia, the gloomy teenage link with the afterlife in Beetlejuice. Well on the wayto forming ‘ their own mutual admiration society, she calls him ‘one of the most brilliant
f directors today’ while he describes her . as ‘magical’.
Since her starring role in Michael Lehmann’s cult hit Heathers, the film offers have come fast and furious, and Ryder has been up there on screen with the likes of Dennis Quaid in Jerry Lee Lewis biopic Great Balls of Fire and Cher in current release Mermaids. Last year, however, she had to turn down Francis Coppola and Godfather III on the advice of her doctor who reckoned she was running herself into the ground.
Her latest role has her as an attractive blonde, but nevertheless alienated, girl-next-door who falls tor the gentle innocence of Edward. Perhaps fact is merging with fiction when she describes her character's love tor Edward, played of course by real life boyfriend Johnny Depp: ‘She finds his purity and honesty attractive. She grows to have a connection with him, and eventually to love him. It’s more about inner beauty.‘