Nothing compares to early Tim Burton films. You know, when Johnny Depp was charmingly eccentric and not just annoyingly weird. And the films seemed to come from a a singular mind that had a vision of a gothic-chic world we hadn't seen before. It's fitting that the first project that Burton worked on in his early days as a Disney animator was The Black Cauldron–a film criticized for being too dark for children–because he's been bringing that aesthetic edge to his projects ever since. If there's one film who's look is quintessentially Burton-esque, it has to be this week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot entry over at The Film Experience: Edward Scissorhands.
I've had multiple viewings of the film over the 22 (!) years that it's been out, including one on the big screen at a Burton Retrospective in TriBeCa in conjunction with an exhibit they had on the art of The Corpse Bride. (I still think Beetlejuice has it beat in my total viewings, though. My sisters and I must have worn out that VHS tape.) So, I wasn't exactly expecting to find anything revolutionary for my viewing this time around. I also found myself asking a lot more questions about it than usual. Things I hadn't thought before, like: Why was a suburban sprawl built around a dilapidated house? Wouldn't the real estate market have just taken over that land years ago, bulldozed it, and built up more pastel-colored ranch-style houses? Also, what was this cookie-making inventor doing making a man anyway? What credentials does he have? But most importantly, why didn't he just give Edward regular hands to begin with? Who uses scissors as temporary training tools? What the hell was that gonna teach him? Having sharp objects in the place of hands is just asking for him to be ostracized. So, way to go.
But, that's just the cynical adult in me nitpicking. And it's so easy to fall into that mode nowadays. Which is why I was glad that my favorite scene from the film was still able to instill in me a sense of that childlike wonder I had when I was younger.
The film begins with a little girl asking her grandmother where snow comes from. Which begins the bedtime story of Edward Scissorhands. Throughout the film, Kim (Winona Ryder–who, by the way, was my favorite actress as kid) hasn't exactly warmed up to the idea of Edward. But as the film unfolds, she slowly recognizes his kind soul and slowly begins to understand that her affections have changed to love. Just before her family's (unattended) Christmas party, something magical happens. As she looks out the window, she sees something that she has never seen in real life. Like a miracle, snow is gently falling in her warm-weathered home. It is wondrous. And as she walks outside, she realizes that Edward is creating it by carving an ice sculpture of an angel with his hands. The moment is just so joyous that she reaches out her arms and basks in the beauty.
Edward has created this moment for her. A moment that she will always remember. Although their love is not to be, she will always remember him every time it snows. When she feels the snow on her skin later in life, she will feel his presence and the love she felt for him. "Sometimes you can still catch me dancing in it."