Edward Scissorhands
Directed by:
Written by:
Caroline Thompson
Tim Burton
Caroline Thompson
Music by:
Art direction:
Edited by:
Colleen and Richard Halsey
Distributed by:
20th Century Fox
Release date(s):
December 7, 1990
Running time:
105 min.
$20 million
Gross revenue:
$86.02 million

Edward Scissorhands is 1990 is a gothic fantasy romance film directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp. The film also marks the fourth collaboration between Burton and film score composer Danny Elfman. Both Burton and Elfman consider this film their most personal and favorite work.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

An elderly woman tells her granddaughter a bedtime story of where snow comes from, the lone and seemingly abandoned mansion on the hilltop. There was a man named Edward, who was created by an incredibly skilled inventor and had scissors for hands. Edward was almost complete, as he had nearly everything, except for hands. The Inventor suffered a fatal heart attack and died before he could give real hands to Edward.

Local Avon saleswoman Peg Boggs visits the decrepit Gothic mansion on the hill where Edward lives. She finds Edward alone. Upon realizing he is virtually harmless, she takes him to her home. Edward becomes friends with Peg's young son Kevin and her husband Bill. He later falls in love with the Boggs' teenage daughter Kim, despite her initial fear of him.

Peg's neighbors are impressed by Edward's adept hedge-trimming and hair-cutting skills, though an eccentric religious fanatic named Esmeralda and Kim's overbearing boyfriend Jim are fearful and contemptuous of him. Joyce, aging, unfaithful housewife in the Boggs' neighborhood, has become fascinated with Edward and suggests that Edward open a hair-cutting salon with her. While examining a proposed site, she attempts to seduce him in the backroom, causing Edward to leave in a panic.

Wanting money for a van, Jim takes advantage of Edward's ability to pick locks to break into his parents' house. The burglar alarm sounds and everyone except Edward flee after he is trapped by the automatic locks triggered by the alarm, despite Kim's insistence that they return for him. Edward is arrested and released when a psychological examination reveals that his isolation allowed him to live without a sense of reality and common sense. Infuriated by Edward's rejection, Joyce claims that he tried to rape her. During the Christmas season, Edward is feared and cast out by almost everyone except the Boggs family. When Edward returns home he reveals that he knew it was Jim's house they were trying to rob and that he did it because Kim asked him to, much to Kim's shock. This, in turn, causes Kim to show a sour demeanor towards Jim.

While the family is setting up Christmas decorations, Edward creates a large angel ice sculpture (modeled on Kim). The shavings create an effect of falling snow, which Kim dances under. "Hey!" Jim calls out to Edward, distracting him, resulting in Edward accidentally cutting Kim's hand. Jim says that Edward intentionally harmed her and attacks him. Edward runs away, wandering the neighborhood in a rage. Kim, fed up with Jim's behavior towards Edward, breaks up with him, and he goes to his friend's van to get drunk. While Peg and Bill search for Edward, he returns and finds Kim alone in the Boggs' house. She asks Edward to hold her, but he is afraid that he will hurt her. She pulls his arms around her and they embrace. Jim returns to the Boggs' house in a drunken rage, forcing his friend to drive his van while inebriated. Kevin is almost run over, but Edward pushes him out of the way, cutting Kevin's arms and face, causing witnesses to think he is attacking him. When the police arrive, Edward flees to his hilltop mansion as the neighbors pursue.

Kim runs to the mansion, reuniting with Edward. Jim follows her and attacks them. Edward stabs Jim in the stomach, causing him to fall out a window to his death. Kim confesses her love for Edward and they share a kiss before saying goodbye. Kim tells the townspeople that Edward and Jim fought each other to death and tells them that the roof caved in on Edward, showing them a disembodied scissor-hand from the Inventor's lab. The neighbors return home.

The elderly woman revealed to be Kim herself, finishes telling her granddaughter the story, saying that she never saw Edward again. She chose not to visit him because she wanted him to remember her the way she was in her youth. She believes that Edward is still alive, being immortal since he can never age. It’s revealed that Edward creates the town's snow by carving ice sculptures that scatter shavings over the neighborhood.

Production[edit | edit source]

Development[edit | edit source]

The genesis of Edward Scissorhands came from a drawing by then-teenaged director Tim Burton, which reflected his feelings of isolation and being unable to communicate to people around him in suburban Burbank. The drawing depicted a thin, solemn man with long, sharp blades for fingers. Burton stated that he was often alone and had trouble retaining friendships. "I get the feeling people just got this urge to want to leave me alone for some reason, I don't know exactly why." During the pre-production of Beetlejuice, Burton hired Caroline Thompson, then a young novelist, to write the Edward Scissorhands screenplay as a spec script. Burton was impressed with her short novel, First Born, which was "about an abortion that came back to life". Burton felt First Born had the same psychological elements he wanted to showcase in Edward Scissorhands. "Every detail was so important to Tim because it was so personal", Thompson remarked. She wrote Scissorhands as a "love poem" to Burton, calling him "the most articulate person I know, but couldn't put a single sentence together".

Shortly after Thompson's hiring, Burton began to develop Edward Scissorhands at Warner Bros., with whom he worked on Pee-wee's Big Adventure and Beetlejuice. However, within a couple of months, Warner sold the film rights to 20th Century Fox. Fox agreed to finance Thompson's screenplay while giving Burton complete creative control. At the time, the budget was projected to be around $8–9 million. When writing the storyline, Burton and Thompson were influenced by Universal Horror films, such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), The Phantom of the Opera (1925), Frankenstein (1931), and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), as well as King Kong (1933) and various fairy tales. Burton originally wanted to make Scissorhands as a musical, feeling "it seemed big and operatic to me", but later dropped the idea. Following the enormous success of Batman, Burton arrived at the status of being an A-list director. He had the opportunity to do any film he wanted, but rather than fast track Warner Bros.' choices for Batman Returns or Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian, Burton opted to make Edward Scissorhands for Fox.

Filming[edit | edit source]

Burbank, California was considered as a possible location for the suburban neighborhoods, but Burton believed the city had become too altered since his childhood so the Tampa Bay Area of Florida, including the town of Lutz, inside of the subdivision named Carpenter's Run, and the Southgate Shopping Center of Lakeland was chosen for a three-month shooting schedule. The production crew found, in the words of the production designer Bo Welch, "a kind of generic, plain-wrap suburb, which we made even more characterless by painting all the houses in faded pastels, and reducing the window sizes to make it look a little more paranoid." The key element to unify the look of the neighborhood was Welch's decision to repaint each of the houses in one of four colors, which he described as "sea-foam green, dirty flesh, butter, and dirty blue". The facade of the Gothic mansion was built just outside Dade City. Filming Edward Scissorhands created hundreds of (temporary) jobs and injected over $4 million into the Tampa Bay economy. Production then moved to a Fox Studios sound stage in Century City, California, where interiors of the mansion were filmed.

To create Edward's scissor hands, Burton employed Stan Winston, who would later design the Penguin's prosthetic makeup in Batman Returns. Depp's wardrobe and prosthetic makeup took one hour and 45 minutes to apply. The giant topiaries that Edward creates in the film were made by wrapping metal skeletons in chicken wire, then weaving in thousands of small plastic plant sprigs. Rick Heinrichs worked as one of the art directors.

Reception[edit | edit source]

Edward Scissorhands was released to positive reception from critics and was a financial success, grossing over four times its $20 million budget.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • After the Disney/Fox merger, this, along with other Tim Burton films distributed by 20th Century Fox, is now owned by The Walt Disney Company, the studio that made The Nightmare Before Christmas. Ironically Johnny Depp plays Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney's franchise Pirates of the Caribbean (2003-today) and worked with them in several films, including Burton's Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Videos[edit | edit source]

  Burton films

Pee-wee's Big Adventure · Beetlejuice · Batman · Edward Scissorhands · Batman Returns · Ed Wood · Mars Attacks! · Sleepy Hollow · Planet of the Apes · Big Fish · Charlie and the Chocolate Factory · Corpse Bride · Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street · Alice in Wonderland · Dark Shadows · Frankenweenie · Big Eyes · Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children · Dumbo · Beetlejuice Returns


The Island of Doctor Agor · Doctor of Doom · Stalk of the Celery Monster · Luau · Vincent · Hansel and Gretel · Frankenweenie · Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp · The Jar · Conversations with Vincent · The World of Stainboy · Kung Fu · Mannequin · Bones · Here With Me

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