Cinematic History – December 6, 1990 – Edward Scissorhands
On December 6, 1990 Edward Scissorhands premiered in Los Angeles. (Wide release followed on the 7th of December). The 4th directorial project under Tim Burton’s belt, it was billed as a dark romantic comedy, and was considered his most personal project to date. First, the trailer:
Tim Burton was previously director on three commercial films Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetle Juice, and Batman, all of which were financial successes and propelled Burton to A-list director status. This fourth film, Edward Scissorhands was a departure from his previous commercial cinema ventures, and a more personal project. Burton had the idea for the film since he was a teenager;
”Edward is a very teenage inspiration,” the director says. ”I think that’s a time generally when you’re at your most traumatic, in terms of feeling dark, operatic, melodramatic.” -Tim Burton
The film was shopped to Warner Bros who denied it, and subsequently picked up by 20th Century Fox. Fox had their own ideas of who should play the starring role which included big names such as Tom Cruise, Gary Oldman, & Tom Hanks, before Johnny Depp was finally cast to play the iconic Edward. Other castmembers along Depp included Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, Kathy Baker, and of course the man himself, Vincent Price. It was Price’s final role – playing the inventor, the progenitor of Edward, his creation that he never had the opportunity to finish.
It became one of Depp’s defining roles. The character was both mysterious, intimidating, but approachable. And very early in the film you see Edward is 100% love. Depp compared the language of the character to man’s best friend;
“I kept thinking of a dog, I kept thinking of the unconditional love, and the way that if you scold a dog he cowers to the corner” – Johnny Depp
Shot over three months in Tampa Bay, Lutz, and Lakeland Florida, locations were chosen to depict a plain suburb devoid of all distinguishable character. The houses of a perfect suburbia all painted in pastels chosen from a palette of only four colors.
With a budget of $20 million, it was a box office success bringing Warner a return of over $86 million. A critical success as well, it received many nominations from the Academy, British Academy Film Awards, and won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.
It was a film I saw as a young boy and it left a lasting mark on my design work for many years. Anytime I heard Burton attached to a project I was immediately interested. Although I feel like he has exhausted his style in recent years, I cannot deny the appreciation I have for the film and it seems to perfectly balance the strange, the romance, and the comedy.
So let’s take a moment to appreciate this historic film. For something interesting, check out these two making of videos I came across on YT: