Analysis Of Film Elements And Their Role In Edward Scissorhands

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Edward Scissorhands is written by Tim Burton who is also famous for Beetlejuice and many more. Edward Scissorhands is a movie of a young man is machine turned and pulled from the comfort of his isolated mansion into the world of the local suburbia. Edward is a loveable, childlike and sensitive character but who is also bewildered by the wonders of the humanity around him but following this loveable character Tim Burton includes the terrifying appearance with scissors for hands. Many who watch the movie describes it as a typical style of Tim Burton’s type of fairytale with includes alternative aspect and romance which is common in most of his movies. However, through the use of mise-en-scene throughout the movie, Burton is able to deliver much more of a serious subject relevant to social criticism by exploring two different understandings of life within the movie by the use of set designs, costumes, lighting and screen shots.

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To begin, the idea of two realisms is first illustrated in the opening sequence of the movie. The distinction of colours between the community and Edward’s mansion right away hints at the huge variations between the two worlds that are on the point of collide: Edward’s isolated and reclusive life vs. suburbia’s gossip-filled, flamboyant and extroverted atmosphere. To achieve this difference on a symbolic level, the suburban neighbourhood was portrayed with houses which are all lined in formation with similar colours and structure, even the colours and decorations within all the houses are pretty much the same Even the weather in this town seemed vivid. The people who are local to the town are all different but are all narrow mined in the same way which is clear when they gather to gossip about Edward, these are all clear examples of how these is not much difference from one another in a way that they are controlled by the same, concrete social group. This symbolized the seemingly “ideal” and happy life supposedly found in this type of community. In contrast, Tim Burton introduces another realism from Edward’s perspective. The impression of where Edward comes from is completely different from what is observed with the suburbia. Edward’s mansion was portrayed in bland shades of grey, and its dirty, cobweb-filled style reflected Edward’s mysterious and isolated life. Edward’s mansion is black gothic castle which is totally out of place compared to the light open area of the neighbourhood below, the mansion is shown as frightening, unsafe and almost looks like a place where monster would abode. This contrast was further dramatized by the camera shots: the mansion was often depicted far away on a hill, whereas the small town was shown much closer. This helps create an uncomfortable feeling and introduces us to the second realism of the world depicted by Tim Burton.

The costume and makeup within the film additionally matched the symbolism of the set style. Edward’s costume and makeup reflected his character’s personality. His costume consisted of a black leather jump suit and extremely pale makeup, that matched his quiet and isolated nature. Special emphasis was given to his eye makeup. Artists accentuated his eyes to create a dark, grave look on his face. His eye sockets were created to seem terribly deep, which made him appear mysterious and lonely — even potentially dangerous. In addition, his face was covered in scars, which was the result of living with his razor-sharp fingers. These scars additionally mirrored Edward’s wounded personality, which was the result of living in isolation after losing his creator. The other characters’ costume additionally mirrored their personality and significance.

Peg’s initial outfit was a very conservative, soft-coloured dress, along with conservative makeup and hairstyle. This reflected her innocent, loving, and motherly nature. In contrast, Joyce — the neighbourhood gossip and adulteress — wore clothing that depicted a much more “loose” personality. Her wardrobe consisted of tight and colourful clothing, high heels, and vivid red hair and makeup. Jim, Kim’s boyfriend, wore athletic clothes and a leather jacket, which pointed to his preppy yet rugged and rebellious personality. Furthermore, most of the characters’ clothing and makeup evolved as their personalities changed. As Edward began to open up to his new surroundings, he started wearing regular clothing (slacks and a button-up shirt). Peg’s hairstyle and dress became much less conservative throughout the movie, and by the end of the film she had a very short, non-traditional hairstyle. Kim, Peg’s daughter, eventually dressed in attire that matched the colours of Edward’s costume (soft, bland colours rather than the vivid pastels just like the surrounding residents), particularly once breaking up with her boyfriend.

Aside from the costumes and makeup, the lighting during this film additionally mirrored the character’s mood or personality. When Peg first found Edward, viewers could only see his silhouette in the shadows of the mansion’s attic due to backlighting. Dark, restrained lighting was used throughout shots of the mansion, and therefore the solely vital light the viewer will see was the sunshine coming back through the random windows or the hole in the roof. However, after Edward left the mansion and warmed up to the suburban community, the lighting changed into bright and colourful scenes. In the most dramatic scenes within the film — Edward breaking into the house, running away at the end, and killing Kim’s ex-boyfriend — the lighting again shifted back into low-key, very dark lighting. This change in lighting established the complete mood of every dramatic scene.

Besides the clever use of lighting, this film also used many symmetrical and up-close camera shots to help the viewer relate to Edward’s emotions and struggles. One example of this was when Edward was eating at the dinner table with his new “family.” One shot would show the entire family gathered around the table in a symmetrical fashion, and then it would switch back to a close-up shot of Edward’s reaction. An up-close shot would also show his facial expressions as he struggled to get a few peas onto his bladed fingers. Then, the camera would switch to a point-of-view shot (from Edward’s perspective) as he frustratingly tried to balance the peas on his blades as he brought them to his mouth. Other uses of up-close, point-of-view, and symmetrical shots were used throughout this film. In another scene, Edward tried to frantically open the door, but was unable to do so.

This scene was emphasised by switching to an up-close, point-of-view shot of Edward’s scissored hands and their inability to grasp the knob. Even the longer street shots of the suburban neighbourhood utilized symmetry for a more balanced scene.

In conclusion, Edward Scissorhands was an incredibly unique tale of an “invented” man from a dark, murky mansion who was totally alone and isolated in the world. Despite his lonely background, Edward had an honest heart and a generous, loving nature. He genuinely wanted to help people. In contrast, the individuals from the seemingly perfect, colourful suburbs engaged in ruthless gossip, rampant infidelity, theft, and other immoral behaviour. These people tried to alter Edward to their ways in which of living, supposing that they might facilitate him become “normal.” However, Edward never quite slot in to their society. In truth, he was much more “normal” than the residents of the suburban community, and unfortunately, the film ended much like it began: with Edward living alone in total isolation. Despite having already compelling plot line, the mise-en-scene virtually brought this film to life, and also the artistic costume choices and makeup, the vivid colours and lighting, and also the symmetrical, close-up camera shots told this story in an unforgettable way. 

16 December 2021

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