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Edward Scissorhands: 10th Anniversary Edition

Tim Burton's 1990 Edward Scissorhands is presented as a fairy tale, beginning with an aged Winona Ryder telling her granddaughter a bedtime story. And, like all Burton films, we're treated to a deliciously designed visual world, where every detail has been crafted with maniacal care. But story-wise, Edward Scissorhands veers madly from transcendent beauty to wacky humor to depressing fatalism, leaving the viewer with the frustrating sense that Burton doesn't quite understand what the idea of a fairy tale is really all about. The film tells the story of Edward (Johnny Depp), created by a mad inventor (Vincent Price) who died before finishing him — leaving Edward to live alone in the inventor's castle with long, sharp blades in place of real hands. After being discovered by an an Avon Lady (Dianne Wiest), she takes him home to live with her family, including husband Bill (Alan Arkin) and daughter Kim (Ryder). Initially feared as a freak by the Boggs' neighbors, Edward displays brilliant talents using his scissors on the neighborhood topiary and wins acceptance. But Kim's nasty jock boyfriend (a weirdly-buffed Anthony Michael Hall) takes a dislike to Edward, and Edward becomes a modern-day Frankenstein's monster, hunted and reviled by the polyester-clad villagers. Ten years after it first arrived, Edward Scissorhands is worth viewing mainly because it uncannily illustrates both Burton's strengths and weaknesses as a director. On the strength side is Burton the Art Director. Scissorhands is, like all Burton's films, indescribably gorgeous to look at. Burton's background as an animator and illustrator is widely known, and discussion of his visual expertise is nothing new. The area where Burton is extremely underrated is his direction of his actors. It's no coincidence that Johnny Depp has done some of his best work with Burton, here and in Ed Wood and Sleepy Hollow. And in this film Depp is phenomenal, inhabiting Edward so fully that you truly believe every nuance of his portrayal. But Burton's Achilles heel in Edward Scissorhands is Ryder as Kim and the way her character is written. Edward falls in love with Kim for no reason other than that she's pretty, and her action during the film defy sympathy. It's hard to find her character sympathetic somehow. And so the audience ends up depressed and feeling let down by the story, because fairy tales are supposed to have happy endings. It's a puzzler. Fox's "10th Anniversary Edition" DVD of Edward Scissorhands offers a beautifully remastered transfer in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), and Burton's fanatical use of color, light and shadow are well showcased here. Audio is in Dolby Digital 4.0, which highlights Danny Elfman's marvelous score. Features include a commentary by Burton, a second commentary by Danny Elfman over his isolated score, conceptual sketches, a "making-of" featurette, short sound bites of the principals chatting about the film, theatrical trailers, and TV spots.
—Dawn Taylor

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