Fig 1. Movie Poster
Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands (1990) is a movie that is all about how alienated an outsider can be when introduced to a group of people who follow trends like a collection of lost sheep. as Marc lee Says: “It is told gently, subtly and with infinite sympathy for an outsider who charms the locals but then inadvertently arouses their baser instincts” (Marc Lee 2014)
In terms of production design Tim Burton perfectly uses mise-en-scene to set a perfect atmosphere and send a brilliant message across. Many examples of this can be found throughout the film, for example the extremely picturesque gothic household that houses Edward and previously before the inventor who brought him into this world. The gothic house is completely black and is situated on top of a black mountain that towers above the rest of the neighbourhood reinforces the fact that Edward is certainly an outsider and the people below are completely blinded, this is quite obvious as there is never any mention of why the house is up there, or how it got there.
Fig 2. Neighbourhood
On the ground in the neighbourhood there is something that seems very sameish, this is largely because of the houses, innards of the house and cars that litter the neighbourhood. Each and every household looks the exact same, except they have different tacky pastel colours. The same goes for the cars as well (see fig 2.). This is certainly a key signifier that everyone within the neighbourhood lacks originality and if they are offered a chance to grab hold of something that is deemed 'original' they snap at the chance because they feel it will set them apart from the rest of the people. In return this makes them even more of a sheep.
Costumes are also a big part of why Edward Scissorhands works, for example we have Edward himself who is dressed in all dark leather clothing with frayed edges, choker necklaces, messy black bird nest hair and last but not least his overly large razor sharp scissors that are on the end of his arms instead of functioning hands (See fig 3.) . But as soon as he opens his mouth it is clear that he is not so angry and something to be scared of, but instead he has a very timid and shy voice, one that resembles the voice of an innocent child who is speaking to someone for the first time.
Going back to the point that was stated earlier, it is truly when we can see the true colours of the people who inhabit the neighbourhood when Edward is brought home from the gothic house and everyone sees him. Its almost as if all of the women have nothing better to do other than gossip and bicker about anything that is 'new' and 'unusual' within the area as the don't really have large extensive lives that spread further than the vicinity of the tatty coloured neighbourhood.
This is why at first when everyone meets Edward for the first time they are somewhat skeptic until they discover that he is a dab hand at gardening, especially shaping hedges into figures or animals. Of course when this is discovered everyone wants to have their hedges trimmed much like how Janet Maslin explains: “ On the lawns of these houses, more and more of Edward’s singular topiaries - - in the forms of a ballerina, a penguin, a set of bowling pins and so on.” (Janet Maslin 1990), and then more discoveries are made with Edwards scissors like he is brilliant at haircuts and doggy trims. This ultimately means that once Edward's true potential was discovered he was sucked dry of all of his 'originality' and then cast away as said in Rolling Stone magazine: “Burton shows how the townspeople’s curiosity about Edward turns to suspicion and hostility” (Peter Travers 1990)
As the story goes on Edward meets Kim who is Pat's Daughter () and falls madly in love with her, the only catch is that she is with the 'jock' like figure who makes it his mission to hurt Edward
after his catches a feeling that Edward wants Kim. This is somewhat a forbidden love because Edward knows he can't have her because of the way he is and because of his hands. Although when Kim's boyfriend decided to plan a betrayal and cause Edward to be wanted by the police, Kim started to doubt her love for her boyfriend and also realises that Edward loves her. This becomes a more of a reality when Kim walks outside to discover Edward crafting an ice sculpture of her, but because Edward is flailing in all sorts of directions to reach every part of the sculpture he accidentally cuts Kim's hand when she goes to reach out to him. After events unfurl from this point Edward is basically constantly wanted by the Police for either going on a destruction spree because Kim's boyfriend turned up to protect her and called Edward a 'freak' (this causes her to split up with him anyway). The second police visit comes from when Edward saves Kevin from an oncoming car and manages to scratch his face up when he tries to calm Kevin down.
From this point on no-one wants Edward around anymore, so he runs. Runs back to his gothic house atop of the blackened mountain, but Kim also follows Edward and coincidentally so does Kim's now ex-boyfriend. One thing leads to another and he starts to try beat Kim until Edward intervenes and stabs him to death. Meaning he must now go into hiding. Kim helps Edward achieve this by going outside and showing the prying females one of Edward's scissor hands and announcing that they both killed each other. The females then realise what fools they had been the whole time, especially the lonely housewife who accused Edward of rape. After this Kim never sees Edward ever again, but he still resumes ice sculptures for years of the life he experienced down in the neighbourhood. This is when we find out that the old woman telling the story is in fact Kim, but who is the little girl. To much is left unsaid in that incident.
Despite the somewhat abrupt ending it can definitely be argued that Edward Scissorhands is one of Burton's best standalone films and has an astounding use of mise-en-scene.