|Title:||Edward Scissorhands: 10th Anniversary Edition (1990)|
20th Century Fox - His story will touch you, even though he can't.
Once upon a time in a castle high on a hill lived an inventor who's greatest creation was named Edward. Although Edward had an irresistable charm, he wasn't quite perfect. The inventor's sudden death left him unfinished, with sharp shears of metal for hands. Edward lived alone in the darkness until one day a kind Avon lady took him home to live with her family. So began Edward's fantastical adventures in a pastel paradise known as Suburbia.
From Tim Burton comes an unforgettable fairy tale starring Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest and Vincent Price as the Inventor.
|Cast:||Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, Kathy Baker, Robert Oliveri, Conchata Ferrell, Caroline Aaron, Dick Anthony Williams, Vincent Price|
|Academy Awards:||Nominated for Best Makeup, 1991.|
|DVD:||Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9; audio English DD 4.0 & Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround; subtitles English, French; closed-captioned; single sided - dual layered; 24 chapters; rated PG-13; 105 min.; $29.98; street date 9/5/00.|
|Supplements:||Audio Commentary Tracks by Tim Burton & Danny Elfman; Featurette; Concept Art; Original Theatrical Trailer; TV Spots.|
|Purchase:||DVD | Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker - Ken Hanke | Score soundtrack - Danny Elfman|
Prior to the late 1990 release of Edward Scissorhands, I was already pretty firmly in the bag for director Tim Burton. After all, I'd absolutely adored two of his three prior efforts: both 1985's Pee-wee's Big Adventure and 1989's Batman were (and remain) some of my all-time favorite films. I'd also enjoyed Burton's other picture, 1988's Beetlejuice, but not to such a great extent.
As such, it was a given that I'd see ES but not so definite that I'd enjoy it. The movie seemed to offer a few negatives. For one, it just looked campy and silly, and it didn't help that Johnny Depp played the lead role. The man held a very different place in popular culture ten years ago, since he then was known best as a teen-idol who starred on TV's 21 Jump Street; his movie career had not taken off to any significant extent.
So I didn't really relish my viewing of ES since I thought it'd be something of a mess. In a way, I was right, as the movie does contain significant flaws. However, the end product more than justifies those mistakes, as ES provided an absolutely beautiful and surprisingly touching experience.
ES offers an unusual combination of Pinocchio and Beauty and the Beast, as artificially-made Edward (Depp) whose creator wasn't able to finish him - encounters the real world of suburbia and experiences a wide variety of emotions previously unknown to him. As he slowly becomes involved in this environment, he finds himself placed into more and more problematic situations and complications.
Prior to my first viewing of ES in 1990, I'd expected it would mostly be a wacky romp without any heart, and much of the movie follows along that path. Its greatest weaknesses stem from the radical inconsistency. The film flits through various topics rapidly and alters mood and tone frequently. At times it feels like Burton wants to cram in so much material that he becomes his own worst enemy.
The pacing seriously suffers due to this attempt. I felt like I'd start to get into a certain mood attached to the film when it would suddenly be disrupted by another element. Clearly some of this was intentional - such as when Johnny breaks up Kim's ice-dancing - but other times seem less purposeful and can be simply clumsy.
However, as frustrated as I get with ES, I always forgive Burton the flaws because he's never made a movie with more heart. In fact, I don't think any of his other feature films show many signs of the sorts of emotion and spirit found here; while I love his pictures, they don't tend to go for that kind of experience.
In ES, however, we find the closest thing to a sentimental, heart-tugging tale Burton can offer. In no way do I mean to imply that Burton overtly tries to spring the water-works. In fact, it's probably his earnest lack of pretense that makes the piece fly, since I didn't feel as though he tried to manipulate me; instead, ES functions as a compelling and moving film just because of the sheer inspired beauty Burton occasionally brings to the screen.
For all its flaws, there are some scenes in ES that stand as some of the most lovely and (for lack of a better word) poetic I've seen. When Burton focuses on the romantic aspects of the tale, the movie doesn't just fly - it soars. There's a sad sweetness to those segments that absolutely kills me to this day, and those are the parts you'll remember long after the film ends.
Danny Elfman's gorgeous score strongly helps. Frankly, I've never been a huge fan of Elfman's work, as too much of it sounds like variations on the same theme. His music to ES bears his trademarks, but it boasts a beauty and grandeur that fail to appear in his other scores. As such, the music becomes a nearly-perfect partner with Burton's visuals as they occasionally create one of the most lovely film experiences I've witnessed.
It helps that the movie's acting is generally quite good. At times Depp seems forced and self-conscious as Edward; there's periodically a quality to his work that suggests he tried too hard. However, he also provides some moments of understated elegance. As with a few of the film's clumsy transitions, I think part of what I see as a problem was intentional, since Depp becomes much more natural and fluid in the role and the movie progresses. Overall it's a strong performance that was a revelation from some TV-bimbo.
While the other cast members are good, I've always maintained a particular fondness for Alan Arkin's turn as Bill Boggs, the patriarch in the picture. He presents the most delightful and entertaining air of detachment that never fails to amuse me; from little things, like the way he watches out for his wife while he sneaks a drink or the manner in which he utters "damn them all to hell", Arkin provides a virtually perfect turn.
I wish I could say the same for the rest of Edward Scissorhands, but unfortunately it has far too many flaws to ever flirt with perfection. Frankly, I don't think Tim Burton will ever create a film that isn't messy and problematic to some degree, and guess what? I don't care. I'll take work that's ambitious and inspired but frustrating over something fluid, slick and soulless. In Edward Scissorhands, we find some very awkward moments, but Burton produces enough beauty and magic to make the whole experience worthwhile.
Edward Scissorhands appears in its original theatrical aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although it presents some problems, overall the picture looks very good and provides a very satisfying visual experience.
Sharpness is the point of most concern. The vast majority of the movie appears clean and crisp, but some scenes - usually wide or medium shots - seem overly fuzzy and soft; in fact, a few moments border on blurry. Admittedly, these are rare, and they disappeared altogether during the film' s final hour, but they bothered me enough to knock down my overall ranking, which otherwise would have entered "A" territory.
Moiré effects and jagged edges cause no problems, and I noticed very few artifacts from the anamorphic downconversion on my 4X3 TV. Print flaws also seem blissfully absent; I detected no signs of hair, grain, speckles, scratches, nicks, tears or grit, and the picture looks remarkably fresh for a decade-old movie.
Colors largely appear lush and rich, especially some of the deeper tones like velvety reds. Occasionally some of the brighter hues look less than ideal - for example, the police lights toward the end seem slightly too heavy - but for the most part colors are extremely well-reproduced. Black levels seem wonderfully dark and solid, and contrast is good. Shadow detail seems smooth and appropriately opaque but without any excessive density. Tighten up the sharpness in a couple of scenes and ES rates at least an "A-"; as it stands, the DVD will have to live with a solid "B+".
Also good but somewhat inconsistent is the Dolby Digital 4.0 soundtrack of Edward Scissorhands. The soundfield appears pretty restricted. The forward speakers offer a modest but nicely broad spectrum in which we hear a fair amount of ambient audio from the sides; it remains gentle at most times, though some useful sound - like the snipping of Edward's blades - can pop up there. The surrounds mainly provide light reinforcement of the forward speakers. Music and some effects appear from the rears, but this is a very forward-oriented soundtrack.
The quality generally seemed positive though erratic. Dialogue always sounds crisp and natural, and I discerned no problems related to intelligibility; the speech appeared nicely-recorded. Effects are clear and clean without any distortion, though they can be a little lackluster at times; during some scenes, the effects lack the power and depth they should display and seem weak. The same problem affects Elfman's score. Through most of the movie, the music appears bright and dynamic, but it also comes across as oddly subdued at times. Some about the range simply seems "off" on occasion, as though I'd activated the compression feature of my player. (I hadn't.) Ultimately, the track sounds good for its age, but the mildly flat aspects of the mix knocked my grade down to a "B".
Their release of Edward Scissorhands doesn't compare with packed titles like Fight Club or Titus, but Fox add a few nice supplements to this DVD. First up is a screen-specific audio commentary from Tim Burton. Since I love Burton's work so much, I'd love to say that this is an information-packed and delightful track, but I hate to lie, so I have to tell it as it is: Tim's a bit of a bore. Actually, that's not news for anyone who sat through his sporadically-compelling discussion of Sleepy Hollow or his dual track with Paul Reubens on Pee-wee, and Burton definitely doesn't deviate from his pattern here. He offers occasional tidbits of interesting data but spends much of the time silent. Most of his statements stick with surface topics like locations or other flat issues, and he never really delves into the depth of the material. The commentary is worth a listen for Burton die-hards, but others will probably be bored.
The second extra finds another audio commentary, this one from composer Danny Elfman. His remarks are combined with a semi-isolated score. As with a similar track on Titus, some speech covers a few music cues; also as with Titus, I'd guess that these small blemishes occurred due to contractual obligations. Most of the score plays uninterrupted, but be aware that you can't get a perfect music track from the DVD. One disappointment: the score is presented in Dolby Surround 2.0 and doesn't sound nearly as good as the 4.0 track for the regular soundtrack.
This is the second Elfman commentary I've heard; the first appeared on Pee-wee. Both tracks are quite similar, as Elfman discusses what he attempted to do with the music and he also relates some facts about his career as a whole. Elfman adds some insight to the experience, and although some fairly long pauses between comments can occur, his statements were interesting and valuable.
The rest of the supplements are much more ordinary. A 1990 featurette appears; it runs for four minutes and 35 seconds. This program is a little more interesting than most promotional pieces, but not by much; it combines a few film clips, some behind the scenes shots and a good number of interview snippets. For its length, the show isn't bad, but it seems very ordinary nonetheless.
In the "Sound Bites" area, we get more interviews with the participants. We find clips from Burton, Depp, Ryder, Wiest, Arkin, Price, writer Caroline Thompson, and Elfman. The segments last between 23 and 91 seconds, and the total of the section is about eight minutes.
These interviews are from the same source as the ones used in the featurette. In fact, a few of them repeat statements heard in that program. In keeping with the spirit of that offering, the sound bites are pretty dull and uninformative; don't expect to discover any gems of insight here. Navigation is frustrating as well; since no "play all" option appears, you' ll have to return to the "Sound Bites" menu repeatedly just to work through the limited information.
Another area provides some advertising. We find two US trailers plus one US TV spot and two Spanish TV promos. One comment: don't watch these - or anything else, actually - unless you've already seen the movie; all of these sources reveal far too much information about the story.
Finally, "Concept Art" offers just what it states. We get six drawings, mainly of Edward. It ain't much, but it's there!
Speaking of "not much", I found a very minor "Easter egg". If you click "down" from the "Concept Art" listing, a "scissors" icon will light. Click it to find a "special thanks to." roster. (Hey, I said it wasn't much!)
Despite some serious flaws, Edward Scissorhands remains a minor classic just because of the sheer loveliness of so much of the film. While it's too inconsistent to be his best film overall Tim Burton will probably never equal the heights of this movie. The DVD offers a very fine picture plus generally solid sound and some bland but decent supplements. A problematic classic is still a classic, and Edward Scissorhands is a DVD that deserves to be acquired.