So, it’s not even bonfire night yet, so what better than to dive headlong into a marathon of Christmas films? I’m still taking it easy on the Yuletide content, but after yesterday’s Rocky IV with its very brief Christmas setting, at least today’s offering has a pivotal segment take place at Christmas.
And today it’s…
2nd November, Day 3
Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton, 1990)
For the first time in this countdown, we open with a typically wintery scene, as a young girl asks her grandmother to tell a bedtime story. Seeing the snow, the grandmother is reminded of a story about the big house that overlooks their neighbourhood. We go back a bright, pastelee coloured fifty’s version of the neighbourhood, when door to door Avon saleswoman Peg Boggs (Diane Wiest) is unsuccesfully trying to sell make up. After a particualrly disappointing experience, she sees the mansion on the hill and decides to try sell her wares there. She enters the house, but finds it abandoned, save for a scared young man, Edaward (Johnny Depp) hiding in the attic. He’s very pale, is dressed all in leather, and has an unruly mop of bjet black hair. Oh, and scissors as hands. Peg’s maternal instincts take over, and she makes Edward come home with her, where he settles into the household alongside Peg’s husband Bill (a great performance from Alan Arkin) and son Kevin (Roberto Oliveri, who was also in Snooty Usher Welsy’s fav Honey I Shrunk The Kids). After some inital trepidation, Peg’s neighbours start to welcome Edward as well, especailly when he turns his hand (see what I did there?) to topiary, pet grooming, and eventually cutting the hair of the women of the neighbourhood. When Peg’s daughter Kim (Winona Ryder) returns from a trip with her boyfriend Jim (Anthony Michael Hall), Edward starts having confusing feelings towards her. Eventually, jealousy and suspicion starts to turn the neighbours against Edward, and when Jim asks a favour of Edward, his feelings for Kim make him do something stupid. Can Edward really live a normal life with the Boggs family? Or will their Christmas party reunite the neighbourhood?
The first Tim Burton film on the list is one of his most personal works. The isolated Edward from the very beginning is inspired by Burton’s feelings of alienation as a youngster. This is also the first collaboration between Burton and Johnny Depp, and it’s one of the very best. Due to his longevity, there are plenty of film goers who only know Depp’s post-Pirates Of The Carribean work, which has been rather patchy, to say the least. Earlier on in his career though, he had a series of quality perfromances, almost as if it was a deliberate attempt to shed his “teen idol”, pretty boy image. For me, Depp’s best work came in his next team-up with Burton (1994’s Ed Wood), but this whole period has plenty of excellent Depp roles to choose from.
I’ve already mentioned how great Alan Arkin is, and Vincent Pryce as The Inventor (who sadly died before finishing Edward) gives one last memorable performance. The paranoia the neighbours exhibit feels totally real and natural, as does the developing romance between Edward and Kim.
What makes this a “proper” Christmas film (unlike yesterday’s Rocky IV, which just happens to end on December 25th) is that as part of the all-American, nuclear family, Christmas should be the time that brings everyone together, however, it is the time that the neighbours’ fear and prejudices boil over. There are a few films later on in my countdown that deal more overtly with these sort of issues, but Christmas is vital to the sturcture of the film. But… that’s an arguement for another day.
Literally my only problem with the film is the use of Tom Jones music for what is meant to be a fifties set film, and who can really be unhappy with Sir Tom? Edward Scissorhands is a great film, one of Tim Burton’s best, and a cracker of a Christmas film. (I am so using that line again)
Overall, I give this
Two 5 out of 5s in my first three movies – am I being overly kind with my ratings? Maybe, but it’s Christmas. Well, it’s not, it’s early November – but you catch my meaning.
I’ll be back tomorrow with another Christmas film – the Dan Akroyd and Eddie Murphy comedy Trading Places.
Hey guys, it’s only 54 more days to Christmas.
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
PS Here’s my list so far: