Cinematography of Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands

Categories: Tim Burton

What type of and what journeys are undertaken in the film Edward Scissor hands by Tim Burton

The movie takes place in an entirely artificial world, where a Gothic castle crouches on a mountain top high above a story book suburb with a goofy neighbourhood where all of the houses are shades of pastels and all of the inhabitants seem to be emotional clones of the jetsons.

Edward’s Journey

The main character, Edward goes on a major journey. From the beginning of the film we see scenes depicting how it feels if you are different and are amongst people who fit neatly into societies accepted roles.

Edward is looking for love and understanding, which is something that you long for. He has been taken from his comfort zone to a more populated and somewhat scary environment. Edwards journey is learning how to trust, and how to fully understand that people with differences are sometimes better off alone.

Taken from his comfort zone and being put into a busy and noisy neighbourhood, Edward realises that there is going to be major changes in his life in order for him to adapt to his new environment and new ways of living.

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He is an outcast, trying to find his place in a world in which he does not belong.

He has significant differences in his appearance to the everyday person with 5 fingers and toes, instead he has sharp scissors as hands and an ashen white complexion. Burton uses this as a prop for discrimination, and that’s exactly what Edward gets.

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He knows he is different physically but wants to show people that he can love and he does have feelings and its whats on the inside of a person that really counts, and this is what Kim saw in Edward.

Whilst Edward helps Pegg chop the lettuce for the barbeque, he see’s Pegg open a can of bettroot. He experiences a flash back that takes the ausience on a journey through an old lab or factory. The inventorappears and marvels at his cookie machine. He picks up a cookie in the shape of a heart and holds it up to the chest of a robbot that has scissors for hands and is chopping lettuce. This shows Edwards inner journey so far, having been giving feelings and a heart. Burton gives the suggestionthat these inner qualities are more important than hands.

Edwards Inventor died before he gave Edward his hands. When Edward see’s a photo of Kim his eyes light up with intense feelings. Upon meeting Kim, it was evident that their would be a connection between the two characters, and a romantic journey would soon be on the way.

Kim’s Journey

Kim is Pegg Boggs daughter who is going out with a dead beat called Jim. Kim acted as most teenagers would if they came home to find that there was a strange young man with scissors for hands sleeping in their bed. At first she makes fun of Edward and uses him unwillingly to break into her obnoxious boyfriend’s house.

Soon after this event Kim begins to see Edwards beauty and uniqueness in comparison to the people she is surrounded by everyday. Kim goes on a an inner journey of self discovery and learns a valuable lesson of life in general, that being that it doesn’t matter if the person is back white or blue you accept them for who they are on the inside, and that’s all that matters. She has full acceptance of differences and believes in Edward.

The Community

However the Neighbourhood’s journey is motivated by how they can use Edward Physically. They learn to accept him because he can be useful to them. At First they were unsure, but when they saw him as an object for their own fulfilment, they were quick to accept his peculiar yet useful appearance

There is one character in the film who lives next door to the Boggs family, She is a very religious women and tries to get the neighbourhood to watch out for Edward, and that he is a message sent from Satan, and he is no good. At First this didn’t seem to worry the neighbourhood, but perhaps on the inside they were very cautious of his difference to the norm society.

But not everyone shares sypathethies and some bad guys are determined to abuse the naive and innocent Edward. Suddenly, after the burglary, rumours spread like wildfire and suddenly once again, everyone is staying away from the lonely young man. Yet only Kim has faith

What Obstacles or challenges do some of the characters undergo or face during their journeys


The first challenge or obstacle for Edward is really at the beginning of the film when he is in the car with Pegg. It is obvious that Edward has never been outside his castle, he is fascinated by the surroundings of the town, he tries to look closer but hits his head on the window, not realising its their. It is soon recognised by the viewer just how much Edward has been out of contact with the rest of the world, something that would soon be changing.

Dealing with the fact that his inventor died Edward was forced to move on with his life living totally by himself with scissors for hands and no real friends. He had to live with the fact that he was an invention that was never quite finished and he would never change, a task within itself being hard to deal with. This for him would have been hard to deal with but he used his time sculpting plants into animals and maintaining a beautiful garden, whilst in the winter when it would snow, Edward would carve ice sculptures with his gift and talent using his scissors.

Edward has to face the community at a big neighbourhood barbecue where he is confronted with many different people and their attitudes. He was put on the spot to see all of these people with normal lives compared to him only meeting one person in his life…and that being his inventor, Edward only ever knew one other human, so meeting new people was quiet a large task for him.

He had to watch the girl that he was falling in love with, get tormented by her boyfriend, but did things for her that were morally wrong, but did it out of the goodness of his heart. Edward knows that Jim is not good for Kim, but doesn’t try to stop her from being with him, instead he uses his somewhat peculiar charm to win her over, which he himself never thought was possible.

Another challenge that Edward faces is that of which when he is confronted by Pegg Boggs at the start of the film. She decides to go to the castle, where no one else has ever been just to see if she could sell some Avon. She finds Edward and her first impression is that she tries to leave…but he says, ” wait”. She stops, looks at him, and then applies some treatment to his face. He is scared when she touches him, but then just stands there. Its this trusts that started Edward on his journey to believing in others.

Eating dinner was another challenge Edward faced at the dinner table. Everyone would watch as he tries to grasp a pea in the clamp of the scissors but no success. It would be even harder with Kevin (Kim’s brother) watching him all the time. It made him feel different and in a sense not included. Poor Edward yet again was made to feel as an individual.


When Edward first arrived Kim was not too sure about him, and her boyfriend didn’t like him either. She would go out with her boyfriend and come home and look at Edward, on the inside she knew she liked him, but didn’t know if it was physically possible.

She was faced with a serious challenge when her boyfriend asked her to get Edward to join into the robbery. She knew it was morally wrong but did it to keep her boyfriend happy. Yet when Edward gets stuck inside the house, Kim try’s to get Jim to help but Jim is so obnoxious he quickly drives away. She knows in her heart that she needs to get Edward out, and knows he is scared. However the next day, when Edward gets home from gaol, He says that he did not dob her in, and when she asks why he says that ” I did it because you asked me to”. So Kim really feels for Edward, he has a gentle spirit, and it is clearly portrayed through his personality.

What Discoveries or changes are made


One of Edwards’s major discoveries is just how different he is compared to the rest of neighbourhood and society. When he actually gets out and sees’s what life is like outside his own home, he discovers that he is the only one with such a significant difference. And discovers that people with such physical differences are often discriminated against for being unique in there own personal way. Although this makes him upset, he chooses for it not to affect him. The neighbourhood accepts him in a perverse and freakish way, the people seeing him as a curiosity. He soon becomes popular for his gift of cutting hedges into pieces of beautiful art and arousing the dormant passions of spiteful housewives.


Kim discovers that it doesn’t matter what a person looks like, or what they do in their life, its what they have on the inside that counts. Edward has a pure gentle and kind heart and is willing to love her with all his soul. She realises that a persons emotions build their character more than their handsome looks. By the end of the Film, when she pretends Edward has died, On the inside Kim knows that there has been a spiritual change in her life. She no longer judges people by their appearance, but furthermore the content of their character.

What techniques does the composer use to convey meaning? And what are the effects of those techniques

Tim Burton has always been a guarantor for visionary movie making a very strong visually driven direction. This style makes him a very distinguishable director but at the same time makes him very unique as well. Burton always gives the material a spin that is unique and interesting, no matter how banal the subject may appear at first. With this film, however, he created a romantic drama with serious undertones, very serious and dark, to the point that the film’s opening almost plays like a classic horror film.

Successful satire has to have a place to stand, and a target to aim at. The entire world of Edward Scissorhands is satire, and so, Edward inhabits it, rather than taking an aim at it. Even if he lived in a more hospitable world, however, it is hard to tell what satirical comment Edward would have to make, because the movie makes an abrupt switch in his character about two thirds of the way through. Until then he has been a gentle goofy soul, a quixotic outsider.

Like all good fairy-tale fables, this one has a moral. People who are different are going to have a difficult time in this world. It’s an easy moral for almost anybody to relate to since almost everybody has felt different at one time or another, especially in one’s youth. What teenager hasn’t longed to be the Student Body President, the quarterback of the football team, the captain of the cheerleading squad, the straight-A scholar, the popular, gorgeous or handsome kid as the case may be, instead of the middling nerd, the undesirable, the social reject we’ve sometimes felt we were? But for Burton that isn’t enough. He also piles on layers of slight, superficial satire. He pokes fun at middle-class suburban living middle-class values, small-town hypocrisy, small-mindedness, gossiping, and backbiting.

One of the most striking aspects of the film is its visual style. From the character of Edward, to the looming castle and the peculiar small town suburbia, everything is stylised to extremes. The neighbourhoods are all painted in bright pastel colours with houses that are as uniform as the attitudes of its inhabitants, and Edwards’s artistry only furthers the impression of a completely artificial world. His trademark use of miniatures is in full force with the long shots of the town and mansion. His camera work is smooth and flowing, and the film has a wonderful sense of humour

The film certainly does not fall flat of a narrative even though all its focus is on the visuals. Although since it is a rather traditional outsider story, told in a very different way one could argue the plot is rather predictable. The presentation, the pacing and emotional impact created by the film is just as powerful and makes “Edward Scissorhands” a beautifully enchanting modern day fairy tale with a social subtext. It has a somewhat cyclic nature.

  • Flash backs show Edwards inner journey. In one particular flashback Edward sees his inventor contemplating giving Edward feelings and emotions with significance to a heart shaped cookie. It’s in this flash back that suggests these inner qualities are more important than hands.
  • The colour of these flash backs being black and white play a significant part in the movie. The black and white tones of these flashbacks emphasises the time change of the rather dark idea of a person being constructed scientifically, but still the most important part is his feelings.
  • There are many shots where misenscene’s are used. Like when Kim and Edward hug. This frame shows them in a close up, emphasising this new love

The whole film indicates an inner journey is taking place from the establishment shots in which the camera pans over the mountain and the village indicating to the audience of the unique contrast.

The music used by Danny Elfman compliments every shot made. From the beginning when the camera pans over the mountain there is heavy tones of dark mysterious music, but when then put to contrast to the neighbourhood there is soft calm music and birds chirping. Its these contrast that help set the scenes in the film.

Edward Scissorhands presents this outlandishly strange premise, but with a gentleness worthy of Edward himself, Burton demonstrates how Edward is just an extreme metaphor for the gangliness and isolation experienced by most adolescents. Kim is a popular beauty-queen among her school set, but she isn’t any happier than Edward is. Besides, she doesn’t even seem to have a special trait or reliably unique skill, at least her new brother of sorts can cut hair, clip hedges, and provide excellent show-and-tell material for her younger brother.

The film opens with a loving grandmother offering to explain to her adorable granddaughter where snow comes from, and then turns into a dark and disturbing parable of loneliness, nonconformity, and the tyranny of small minds. Edward Scissorhands, is a deeply touching movie, it isn’t overtly a Christmas movie, but it does touch on the grimmer side of the religion that currently dominates the much more ancient tradition of a midwinter celebration.

The appropriately over-the-top performances from much of the cast and the overly bright fakeness of the world their characters inhabit might make it easy for some to dismiss Edward Scissorhands as fluff fantasy with nothing of importance to offer, but Johnny Depp won’t let that happen. Regardless of the oddity of his character, Depp keeps the film rooted in reality — whatever motive you attribute to the neighbours, the profound affect that their mass rejection of Edward has on him is undeniably, recognisably true. Edward is heartbreakingly poignant.

His sudden rage, which he expresses by ripping his scissors across wallpaper and drapes, is all the more startling because he has been so courteous with his sharp edges before. His “fingers” snap and twitch when he’s nervous, which is often — not equipped with the verbal skills to defend himself, his despair radiates wordlessly. Even Edward’s humorous moments — as when he encounters the one piece of furniture to which he’s a serious danger: a waterbed — Depp imbues with a touch of pathos.

How does “Edward Scissorhands” relate to the core text “My Place”

Pegg Boggs and Sally Morgan share a similar personality trait. Both characters have big hearts and kind souls. In “Edward Scissorhands” Pegg strives to help Edward deal with his differences. Just like Sally who tries to get her grandmother to talk and accept her true identity. Both characters try to get their close ones to accept themselves for who they are, and to know that its what’s on the inside of a person that really matters, not what they look like. Sally excepts that Nan has been brought up in a different era and accepts this different, just like Pegg accepts Edward and his situation.

However “My Place” and “Edward Scissorhands” involve completely different journeys in the sense that Morgan’s is a true account and autobiography of her real family and Tim Burtons film is a fantasy. This contrast shows that scissors for hands is a symbol illustration that is used to point out the discrimination felt by people who are actually physically different, just like Nan and Gladys who were discriminated against for their aboriginality.

After Edward’s inventor died, he stayed living in the big house alone. This hiding away is parallel to Nan and Gladys hiding their Aboriginality. However both Sally and Pegg bring out the inner beauty of these people with differences and give them the sense of security and reassurance that they were both once unable to feel.

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Cinematography of Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands. (2016, Jul 05). Retrieved from

Cinematography of Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands

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