Listen to our Edward Scissorhands episode on:
- Google Play
- Player FM
- Pocket Casts
It may be difficult to imagine under present circumstances, but there was a time when Johnny Depp was one of the most exciting actors working in Hollywood. In particularly, it was Depp’s early collaborations with director Tim Burton that helped cement his reputation as a unique and fascinating talent – marrying poster boy looks to an offbeat, alternative sensibility that set him apart from his fellow A-listers. And though he’d already gained attention for his TV work, a handful of supporting film roles and a likeable turn in John Waters’ cult teen comedy Cry Baby, it was Burton’s Edward Scissorhands that truly cemented Depp’s arrival as a movie star,
Watching Edward Scissorhands back with as unprejudiced an eye as possible, it’s hard to deny that Depp is very, very good in the role. A virtually mute robot with blades for fingers – originally conceived by Burton as an avatar for his own adolescent loneliness – Scissorhands is the kind of character who could easily come off as either creepy or ludicrous. But Depp’s physicality injects a palpable vulnerability that allows you to believe that the people he encounters would feel natural empathy towards him.
The movie was also an important moment for Burton – having made his name with Beetlejuice and established his box office credentials by successfully helming the 1989 Batman movie, the director was in the enviable position in which he could have chosen practically anything he wanted for his next project. Yet rather than jumping into another blockbuster, he chose to make the film he has since described as the most personal of his career.
Like most of Burton’s films, there’s more idea than solidly structured story to Edward Scissorhands – the film is a visual and musical delight with an excellent central performance and a uniformly appealing supporting cast, including Dianne Wiest as the warm hearted matriarch who takes Edward in, and Winona Ryder adopting a magnificent wig and an endearingly shonky old lady voice as the obligatory love interest. But it’s fair to say that the melodramatic final act jars a little in comparison to the whimsical first half, and the ending ultimately feels a little rushed.
Still, if Edward Scissorhands is ultimately a bit more style than substance, it’s still one of the most striking and enjoyably odd hit movies of the era, and a timely reminder of the talents of an actor and director who’ve both gone slightly off the boil in recent years. As we ease into our festive mini-season for December, friend of the show Paul Hawkins from Blokebusters joins us to wax nostalgic and to help pitch some potential sequel ideas that might just restore Depp and Burton’s credibility… or possibly hammer the final nail into their careers. Either way, it’s a win-win for the rest of us.
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Next week, we’re kicking our festive mini-season into high gear with an unquestionable modern Christmas classic. Until then happy listening, and remember – waterbeds aren’t just easily punctured, they’re also terrible for your back.