This film is, in a way, a scathing attack on suburban “culture”, if it has one, and the supposed value in being normal; to conform to an impossible ideal. It is also a very good movie. Edward Scissorhands is a gothic romantic fantasy about an inventor (Vincent Price) who creates a man called Edward (Johnny Depp) but dies before he can give him proper hands. Sometime later he is met by a down-on-her-luck Avon lady named Peg Boggs (Diane Wiest), who brings him home with her. Hijinks ensues.
Happiness is in short supply in this movie. You can feel yourself cringe every time Edward moves his hands, afraid he might destroy something. He never looks comfortable when near people. That is because he is unfinished, imperfect; taken out from the oven much too soon. An orphaned child in a man’s body, he is plunged into our society. He must learn to swim whilst drowning. It doesn’t end well, as you might expect, though in the beginning, he shows promise. He even tries to take out a bank loan to start a business.
The bank’s denial, the start of society’s denial of him, marks the turning point of the movie. This is where it unravels, crashes, and spirals out of control for him. And the ironic thing is that he is innocent; a convincing scape-goat for the others to blame for their own problems. The neighbours, especially the nagging women, are anything but normal themselves. You’ve got the religious crackpot who harkens on about how Edward is the devil, the large lady who doesn’t care about anything but gossip, and you’ve got the bored lecherous housewife who covers up her own sexual advances by saying that he came on to her. That he “raped” her. She sounded very casual about it on the phone. It is this culture of trying to save face, to appear normal to their “normal” peers that does him in in the end.
Jim (Anthony Michael Hall), Kim Boggs’ (Winona Ryder) boyfriend is the straw that broke the camel’s back. He represents the violent, selfish side of society; the one that actually has the “courage” to confront what he feels is the problem. He is almost cartoonish in his portrayal though: the psychopathic way he coerces people to do what he wants, often with verbal abuse at first, and the way he felt no guilt when he abandons Edward to the police doesn’t paint him as a sane man. He is the embodiment of toxic masculinity, but more importantly he represents the antithesis of Edward. The ape who wears a suit is still an ape, but all that society cares for is the suit. Until that is, the suit is stained with blood. Edward Sissorhands is available on DVD and Blu-Ray.