In honor of the film’s 25th anniversary, here is an annotated look at some of the film’s best scenes.
Twenty-five years ago, Johnny Depp was trying to prove that he was more than just a pretty face, Winona Ryder was the Teen “It” Girl and Tim Burton was an artsy director who was ambivalent about the mainstream success of his 1989 hit Batman. They all came together in 1990’s Edward Scissorhands, a dark, funny fairytale about a not-quite human man who is welcomed, then condemned by a group of suburbanites. Depp and Ryder’s chemistry as the innocent, misunderstood Edward and the conformist teen Kim led to a real-life romance that ended with Depp changing his “Winona Forever” tattoo to “Wino Forever.” Thankfully, though, Depp and Burton’s relationship endured, with Depp going on to star in seven more of Burton’s films. Edward Scissorhands has remained a vital part of pop culture. It inspired a ballet and multiple YouTube make-up videos explaining how to create Edward’s gothic look. In honor of the film’s 25th anniversary, here is an annotated look at 10 of the film’s best scenes.
Edward Gets a Makeover
The true heroine of the film is Peg (Dianne Wiest), an Avon lady who encounters Edward when she knocks on the door of the creepy old mansion where he lives. She isn’t freaked out by his Robert Smith from the Cure-meets-Freddy Krueger look. She’s just concerned that he’s lonely, so she invites him to move in with her family. Peg is convinced that Avon makes a product that will cure Edward’s facial scars. First she tries astringent. When it fails, she moves onto foundation, hoping she can cover them up. This scene establishes one of the film’s major themes: that no matter how hard he tries to fit in, Edward will ultimately be unable to escape being judged by his appearance.
Edward Tries to Eat a Family Dinner
Maybe Peg should have made skewers. Edward is not built for silverware. His attempt to eat with the family is an epic fail. He can’t figure out how to pick up his food. His scissor fingers create a huge racket when they clang against his plate. Finally, Peg passes Edward the butter. His sharp fingers make a great butter knife. This scene inspires several questions that the movie never answers. Did Edward eat before he came to Peg’s house? Does he get hungry? Can he digest food? Though Edward’s guts are part metal, he has the emotions of a human, and that’s ultimately all that matters.
Edward Punctures Kim’s Waterbed
Kim and Edward’s first meeting does not go well. Before cellphones, it was difficult for a mother to let her daughter know that a sexy goth man-robot-child was crashing in her room. When Kim notices Edward lying on her waterbed, she lets out a blood curdling scream… Edward, who fell in love the moment he saw her picking at her zit, panics and accidentally nicks the bed with his metal talons. Water squirts everywhere. It’s both funny, and an orgasm metaphor. Kim flees, yelling to her parents that there is a murderer in her room. Kim is pretty much the worst.
Edward Becomes a Hairstylist
One woman who does appreciate Edward is the neighborhood’s desperate housewife, Joyce (Kathy Baker). Edward wowed the neighborhood by using his built-in pruning shears to turn Peg’s bushes into topiary dinosaurs. So the women bring their dogs to Edward, who is happy to trim their fur for free. Joyce realizes that his fingers could work their magic on her, too. Edward gives her an 80s asymmetrical ‘do while she moans in ecstasy. All of the other women line-up to get their own edgy styles. Note that Edward is able to transform the appearance of everyone but himself. “That was the second most thrilling experience of my whole life,” Joyce raves. If Burton ever makes a sequel maybe we’ll learn what ranked number one.
Kim Dances While Edward Sculpts an Angel
In the most beautiful, iconic scene from the movie, Kim discovers that Edward has carved an ice sculpture of her, with the wings of an angel. She dances to the film’s score, that she apparently can hear right along with the audience. You would think that having a sweet, sensitive guy who makes a work of art for her would make Kim realize that she should dump her jerk of a boyfriend, Jim, who only wants to hook up with her in a van. But she doesn’t, because she is the worst.
The Inventor Reads to Edward
We eventually get Edward’s origin story. An inventor, played by 1950s horror movie star Vincent Price in his final role, used a Rube Goldberg-style machine to create Edward. He starts out as what looks like a miniature version of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. The next time we see him, he looks like the Edward we know and love, minus his legs. The inventor reads to him from an etiquette book, which he eventually realizes is boring. So he switches to a book of limericks. Like Doctor Frankenstein, the Inventor has good intentions, but has not considered the ultimate consequences of unleashing his creation on a cruel world.
Kim Asks Edward to Hold Her
Kim persuades Edward to participate in a bizarre scheme to rob Jim’s house so Jim can get money to buy a creepy sex van because she’s too weak to stand up to her lame boyfriend. When the cops arrive, Kim and Jim run, leaving Edward to take the fall. Sure, she feel bad about it, but even after Edward gets arrested, she doesn’t step up and admit what really happened because she’s too chicken to stand up to Jim. By the time she decides to do the right thing, it’s too late. Edward, hurt by her betrayal and the way that the town has turned on him, loses his temper, shreds Peg’s curtains, and becomes the subject of a manhunt. After she wrecks his life, Kim finally realizes that Edward is the greatest, hottest Emo teen boy of all time. She kisses him and asks him to hold her. He points out the obvious: that if he does, he’ll slice her into a million pieces. Actually, because Edward is a man of few, elegiac words he says simply, “I can’t,” and gives us all the feels.
The Inventor Dies Before He Can Give Edward Hands
In the most poignant scene of one of the poignant movies ever, Edward remembers that the Inventor made him a pair of human hands. He showed them to Edward, declaring that they were an early Christmas gift. Edward was overjoyed that he was finally going to become a real boy. Unfortunately, before the Inventor could attach the hands to Edward, he dropped dead. A heartbroken Edward reached out to the man he considered a father, hoping he could help him, but instead chopped the fingers off his brand new hands.
Edward Pushes Jim Out the Window
After Edward is chased out of town and returns to his lonely mansion, Kim tracks him down. It looks like Edward is finally going to get to be with the bland girl of his dreams until Jim shows up. He attacks Edward. Picking a fight with a guy whose hands are literal weapons is a truly stupid move. Kim finally grows some ovaries and hits Jim over the head with a piece of wood, knocking him out. Edward stabs Jim, then shoves him out the window. Good riddance! Kim tells Edward that she loves him, even though she has treated him like dirt throughout the entire movie. He informs her that they can’t be together because the world is cruel.
Kim Tells Her Grandchild About Edward
An elderly Kim, played by Ryder wearing less-than-convincing prosthetic make-up, tells her grandchild about Edward. She says that she isn’t sure if he’s still alive, but if he is, she doesn’t want him to see what she looks like now. Edward is, in fact, very much alive, and wandering around his gloomy mansion, miserable and alone. The guy has scissors for hands. Does Kim really think he’s going to be freaked out by some grey hair? Kim is so selfish and vain. If she was pining for Edward all these years, it sure didn’t stop her from getting married and having a family of her own. It’s too bad Edward didn’t meet the awesome goth girl Ryder played in Burton’s earlier movie, Beetlejuice. They would have lived happily ever after.