Appearance in Suburbia: Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands

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In the film “Edward Scissorhands”, directed by Tim Burton, is a fantasy story both fairy tale and horror-imagery. The important setting is the suburbia, through the verbal and visual features, of characters’ costumes and the lighting effects helps the audience to have a deeper understanding of Burton’s ideas of appearance into the suburbia as a novelty caused fascination, love and revulsion.

The story is about an Avon lady named Peg Boogs who discover the unfinished experiment of a mad scientist: a weird looking and shy man called Edward living in the neighborhood’s old abandoned castle.

The scientist died before replacing Edward’s large shears with real hands and so his creation is left unfinished and all by himself until Peg shows up.

She attempts to bring Edward into her suburban neighborhood to live among her family and gossipy neighbors, where at first, he experiences positive reactions until he transforms the neighborhood into fantastical garden by trimming trees and bushes.

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He inverts new individual haircuts for all of the town’s women. He somewhat becomes a celebrity. It was hard for him to find his place within the neighborhood. Later on in the movie, he turned into the hated, mistreated outsider. In the end, he had to go back to his own environment where he feels safer.

The thing that strikes you most about the film is the contrasting imagery of the fairy tale versus the horror theme.

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The colors black and white and opening music establish the relationship with the horror theme. The beginning scene which shows the lady telling the story to a child gives the film its fairy tale theme. The suburban world is apparently perfect.

In the setting of the film, the suburbia has a major role in helping the audience understand the ideas of conformity and that appearances can be deceiving. The long shot that introduced the suburbia created a calm and peaceful atmosphere. The identical house structures and the pastel color paints showed the audience the idea of Bourgeois Utopia. This idea or suburbia was precipitated by the white flight trend in America in the 1950’s. White upper and middle class people wanted to move away from non-white inner city neighborhoods to predominantly white suburbia called Levittown.

He built house in the same architectural style just like the houses in the suburbia in the film. Here people are conservative and wanted refuge from the threatening elements of living in the cities at the time. This could be seen on the film, when Joyce started to exclude Edward, everyone followed her; they were all scared to be different.

The costumes of the residents of the suburbia on the film are all colorful and bright. In the scene of the Barbeque welcoming party, a mid-shot casted over the community which showed the characters dressed in this monotonous sense. The males are dressed in their typical daily work wear while the females are all nicely groomed. This showed the idea of traditional gender roles and how it is very committed to here. The females would stay home and do chores while the males would go out and work as they were the ‘breadwinners’ of the household.

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Appearance in Suburbia: Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands. (2023, Feb 23). Retrieved from

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