There is a reason why Edward Scissorhands is one of the most popular movies of the 90’s, and possibly of all time. How many of us STILL get strong feels when we watch it? That’s because Edward Scissorhands speaks to us at a very deep, and personal level.
Edward Scissorhands was first released in 1990. Since then, many hearts have been broken by this story about a man who is not really a man, but perhaps behaves in a more human way than many of the other people in his environment. He is gentle, kind, and has no concept of the dark side of humanity. Because his Inventor waited too long to create hands for him, Edward is stuck with scissors for hands, forever being unable to interact with his environment or with others.
The reason this story is so popular even today is that it is able to take hold of your feelings and twist them. This is done brilliantly. From the moment we are introduced to Edward Scissorhands, we can see clearly what kind of person he is. Sure, he may look a bit scary at first glance. And he’s not technically human. But when we see his face, when we look into his eyes, at his facial expression, his kindness becomes obvious. We quickly realize that this man has been living alone, with no interaction with humankind since his Inventor passed away. And he is not finished.
Can you imagine not being able to grab things? To hold a loved one’s hand? To pet your cat? To caress a baby’s cheek? To touch your own face? Not being able to touch anyone? Touch is one of the most basic human needs. Babies are soothed when touched gently by their caregivers. When we grieve, we are generally comforted by a hug or someone holding our hand, or setting a hand on our shoulder. It’s how most people show and receive empathy. A simple touch can say, “I am here for you,” or, “I love you.” Edward Scissorhands is unable to touch anybody without hurting them. Because his Inventor took so long to make hands for him, he is denied this most basic of human needs.
This creates an additional problem: being unable to interact with the world. What might it be like to observe but not interact? Lacking the ability to interact with our environment may lead to increased isolation, awkward social skills, or avoidance of everyday activities. This speaks to our basic fear of being alone, which is what Edward Scissorhands experienced most days of his life.
We also see that Edward Scissorhands is very innocent, so his concept of people is skewed. When he leaves home, it is almost like taking a naïve child and thrusting him into a wild and chaotic world of adults with ulterior motives and hidden agendas. His limited interactions have not prepared him to function outside of his home. He doesn’t see how some things are bad ideas, how some people might take advantage of him, or how others might feel threatened by him. Through the eyes of Edward Scissorhands, we are re-introduced to the beauty and cruelty of humankind.
Still, despite all the ways in which people fail to understand him, Edward Scissorhands finds a way to express his true self: creating. Not only does he add beauty to the world with his sculptures, but it also seems to be the unique way in which he shows his love.
In the end, despite all the troubles he goes through, Edward Scissorhands finds a beautiful way to interact with his environment, to show what he is capable of, and to leave his mark upon the world. And isn’t that what we all really want?