Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Edward Scissorhands, or Let It Snow

As I type, a lot of the Southern East Coast is having a snow day. LA is, of course, sunny and barely cold. Edward Scissorhands makes me wish for a snow day.

I can't say much about this film--even a title was hard--because I do love it and have since I saw it however many years ago. I was amazed at how it basically holds up. The clothes and houses were so hilariously dated and outrageous when the film was released that they don't seem so dated now. My favorite might be the neighbor wearing the Christmas tree dress. There is a wonderful sense of humor in the costuming and set design. Just look at all of the neighbors storming up to the gothic house with intent to lynch or maim or at least scowl at Edward. They look like they've escaped from Whoville.

About the scissors question posed to me: I'd venture that the point is all art needs to be a little dangerous to the person experiencing it to be art but that a lot of art is ultimately not even remotely dangerous. The technicolor cracker box houses with perfectly manicured lawns housing perfectly coifed housewives are ultimately incredibly boring--as are the housewives. Even the housewife trying to be seductive is remarkably milquetoast. The haircuts are thrilling and, ultimately, erotic because they think their heads could be chopped up or off at any moment. Art is meant to cause a stir in the way it contrasts our world or blatantly reflects our world back to us. But Edward's art doesn't hurt anyone--he doesn't cut anyone while cutting hair or shrubs and cutting Kim while carving ice was actually caused by Kim getting in the way and the boyfriend yelling. He hurts people only when trying to save them from a worse fate--being shot or run over by a car--when he's not being "an artist" but is, instead, trying to be a human/social being. The amusing thing about the art is that the new scissorhanded haircuts are not too different than the ones the women had previously--they all had wacky hair to begin with--and Edward's other art is very Disneyland/World. Seems Burton may have read a little Baudrillard.


  1. You're sort of smart, you know that? I think you're exactly right about the relationship between danger and art. I'm about to be unbearably pretentious, but it reminds me of that Kafka quote about books being the ice-axe to break up the frozen sea inside us. Edward's body literalizes this precept.

    On a completely different topic, you know who I really like in this movie? The dad. He's so unruffled and accepting of Edward, and it seems he's going to raise a really good son. This would be an interesting text for a reading of masculinity, in fact.

  2. So, that me being smart thing goes out the door when I have to look up the quote--not up on my Kafka it seems :) Meanwhile, did you know there is a Wikiquote? It has the original and variant translations. Interesting. But, back on topic, yes, I think it goes with the Kafka quote perfectly. We read, watch movies, go to museums, to affirm that we can feel, that we do have souls.

    I know! I loved him, too! Alan Alda is just super super! But, yeah, based on the mom's reactions and demeanor and the dad's initial "Eddie" naming, you'd expect him to be less than accepting. But he's just "ok, that's cool" for most of the time and when Edward does do something wrong, he tries to teach him--the finding money question and the talk about replacing the wallpaper. Huge contrast to the entirely absent men in other houses and the boyfriend's dad who locks away everything.