Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The ORIGINAL Team Edward

So, Edward Scissorhands hits me where I LIVE. Johnny Depp (!) plays a tortured and sensitive artist (!!!!) who falls in tragic love (!!!!!!) with Winona Ryder (hereafter referred to as "Wino Forever"). Of course, those elements are just my personal crack. Really, I think the movie could be subtitled "The Fantastical Autobiography of Tim Burton." Edward looks like Burton (I did say "fantastical") and is an off-kilter artist in a world in no way equipped to understand or accept him.

I taught this movie at the end of my American Literature and the Gothic class, and the students all picked up on the way that the traditional Gothic elements (the creepy house on the hill, Edward's uncanny body, Vincent effing Price) were not where fear was located--the hyper-saturated suburbia is the real scary thing in this film. Edward, because of his inability to "blend," as his kind foster mother futilely attempts to enable both through make-up and assimilation, is alternately feared and fetishized by the citizenry.

Upon rewatching, I was struck by first, how funny it is, and second, the "you damage everything you touch" element. It doesn't really fit in to my Edward as Artist argument, but is undeniably true. He cuts Wino's brother accidentally, slashes up his own face, and kills Anthony Michael Hall. Any thoughts on this, Nat? Why scissorhands? Does it have something to do with the Romantic notion that artists are always doomed to be alone? Or is it saying something about an inherently destructive capacity that lurks within creativity? And, on a more important note, how about them cheekbones? JESUS.

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