4) Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Tim Burton’s enthralling, gothic fairy tale takes narrative elements from classics, such as Frankenstein and Beauty And The Beast, and presents a seasonal story of love, acceptance and triumph over adversity, in which the social outcast wins the day.
The film opens with an old woman regaling her grandchild with an atmospheric bedtime story, intended to explain the origins of snow. She describes a humanoid boy named Edward (Johnny Depp) who was not born, but rather built in a castle high above the town by a lonely inventor (Vincent Price) who was desperate for a child. Unfortunately for the Edward, his creator suffers a catastrophic cardiac arrest before he can complete his project, and Edward is left with scissors for hands.
Edward is discovered in his isolated tower by a local woman named Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest), who takes pity on the abandoned boy and welcomes him into the family home – where she resides with her husband, Bill (Alan Arkin), and her daughter Kim (Winona Ryder). The neighbourhood – which is a Pleasant Valley Sunday-type of fever dream – regards Edward with the utmost curiosity before embracing him. That embrace is not innocent, though, as it transpires that each character wants something from Edward, who has yet to discover who he really is, within himself. As he gains the confidence of his own needs and desires, the good townsfolk begin to turn on him.
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The action plays out against a backdrop of slowly blossoming romance between Edward and Kim – a love and attraction that is beautifully delicate and chaste as a result of Edward’s innocence and potentially lethal appendages. While it is this romance that ultimately brings the community tensions to the boil, it is also this romance that saves Edward – despite the fact that the couple are unable to pursue it.
As it is revealed that the old woman telling the bedtime story is indeed Kim, we learn that the snow enjoyed by the town is created by Edward, who channels his creative energy into ice sculpting, high in his tower above the neighbourhood – creating great swatches of ice shavings that fall onto the streets below. His artwork is inspired by his love of Kim, and now, in her twilight years, she is able to reflect on her ‘path not taken’ and appreciate all that her choice has given to her – including her grandchild.