“You see, before he came down here, it never snowed. And afterwards, it did. If he weren’t up there now…I don’t think it would be snowing. Sometimes, you can still catch me dancing in it” – Winona Ryder, Edward Scissorhands (1990)
When I think of the feeling of the holiday season, the first image that comes to mind is the scene in Edward Scissorhands (1990) with the snow from Edward’s ice sculpture. Kim Boggs (Winona Ryder) begins in the family’s house helping her mother prepare for a Christmas party none of their neighbors will likely attend after a series of incidents involving Edward. Kim catches sight of something out the window not usually seen in her neighborhood…snow. When she investigates, she finds Edward standing on a ladder and carving an ice sculpture of a giant angel with his hands. The action of his scissors shaving through the ice has created the effect of snow. The scene becomes one of the most enchanting in Tim Burton’s body of work as Kim begins to dance in the falling ice.
I won’t go over a full synopsis of the film since I am sure most readers have seen it (if not, please go experience it for yourself). The film begins with Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest) going door-to-door selling Avon, with no success. In one last effort, she decides to visit the dark and crumbling castle that looms over the colorful suburb. When she arrives, she notices several expertly-cut topiary animals among other oddities. Eventually, she finds Edward sitting alone within the shadows. While frightened by him at first from the intimidating layers of scissors that form his hands, Peg soon realizes his gentle nature. Upon learning he is all alone, Peg invites him to come home with her. Much like another outsider played by Johnny Depp, Ichabod Crane, Edward disrupts the illusion of the cookie-cutter suburbia with his presence and excites the neighborhood with everything new he brings into the residents’ lives. Most of them accept Edward into their community, particularly when he demonstrates that he can use the abnormality of his hands to serve them. When Edward is taken advantage of and unable to express himself in a healthy way after a lifetime of isolation, the community is no longer as welcoming.
More than anything, I feel that Edward Scissorhands shows us that, no matter the circumstances, everyone has something to offer. Everyone deserves patience, empathy, and kindness. While it became clear by the end of the film that Edward was admired for what he could do for the community and not his individual merits, Edward uses his unique abilities to care for others and make others happy. The kindness Peg shows him in the beginning is most likely the only kindness he has known since the death of The Inventor (Vincent Price). Her consistent acts of kindness and acceptance encourage Edward to open up and try the same. Even when it gets challenging, the Boggs family prioritize understanding Edward and helping him have a more stable relationship with the world around him.
The ice dancing scene with Kim, who becomes closer and closer with Edward throughout the film, acts as a peaceful break during a tense time when the community who had admired Edward so much had turned against him. The scene is about the positive things Edward can create and the joy he brings to others. No matter how metaphorical this film was intended to be, the character of Edward and the way he is accepted or not accepted by others shows us the impact of how we treat those who are different than we are. Whether we are born differently, made differently, express ourselves in atypical ways, we deserve kindness and patience.
Be patient. Be kind. Watch Tim Burton movies.
Enjoy your holiday season however you celebrate, and I will be back soon with my favorite horror novels of 2020.
Until next time,