Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Christmas movie for sad goth kids

Everyone should watch Edward Scissorhands. If you haven't seen it already, now's a good time - it's not really a Christmas/Holiday film but it does have a lot of the dark holiday feel that showed up in The Nightmare Before Christmas a few years later.

Edward Scissorhands is a great Tim Burton film with Johnny Depp starring as a lovably odd outsider, something that wasn't a tired cliche for Burton or Depp when the movie was first released. The movie is beautiful, full of over-saturated colors and insane art direction and robots that are clearly exact reproductions from Burton's notebooks, but there is an underlying surreality that makes each scene stand out clearly in your memory even when it has been a few years between viewings. It isn't an overtly funny film, but the prosaic suburban setting becomes sort of a silent slapstick character as its tacky wall-hangings and eye-scorching stuccoes underscore the weird action.

The effervescence of the movie is intoxicating - it's hard not to get sucked in by the stunning visuals (which include remarkably stupid haircuts, otherworldly topiaries, and impossible ice sculptures), the wonderful acting (Dianne Wiest is particularly wonderful, perfectly balancing on the middle ground between cheer and frustration), or the star-crossed lovers plot. So don't fight it; let yourself get sucked in and enjoy it - don't question the premise, don't worry about what Edward really is - suspend disbelief and let yourself exist in this odd little world for a while.

It really is a delightful film, but it does seem to be targeted squarely in the direction of the goths in the world. Edward stands out, he knows he is different, and there's nothing he can do but "be [his] own sweet self" and try to ride out the wave. In some ways this technique doesn't work for him, but it does work in the one way that matters - the openness of his heart, the sincerity of his kindness, and the honesty of his soul bring him wonderful friends and the love that he so badly needs, at least for a while.

As an interesting note for burgeoning film buffs, Edward Scissorhands (aside from being wonderful for its own sake) was made much stronger by brief appearances from Vincent Price as The Inventor, Edward's father. It was, sadly, Price's final film and it is a bit sad to sit through his screen time, watching his eyes and his joy and knowing that this was the last film to capture that wry spirit.

All in all, though, Edward Scissorhands remains an excellent choice for an evening of casual viewing; it is family friendly (except for some sexuality and a single utterance of "shit"), has a good story, and will probably be enjoyed by everyone you know - no matter how "normal" someone is, there's a little Edward in all of us, and all of us can share in his struggles.

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