Edward Scissorhands, written by Tim Burton, tells the tale of a young man who is lovable, childlike and sensitive, bewildered by the humanity around him, yet is terrifying- someone who has scissors, the deadly weaponry, for hands. Many viewers may read this film as a “Tim Burton” type of fairytale which includes both an alternative aspect and romance. However, through the presentation of mise-en-scene in this film, Burton drives in a much more serious subject of social criticism by establishing two different understandings of life in the movie.
To begin, the idea of two realisms is first illustrated in the opening sequence of the film and continues throughout the length of the story. For example, the neighborhood shown in the film is very staged, with warm and soft lighting, providing a calm, serene feeling. The houses are all lined in formation, with similar colors and structure. Even the colors and decorations in the houses are all pretty much the same, pinkish red and yellow, that makes everything feminine and monotonous, perhaps even boring, just like the houses on the outside. The people of the town are all different, but are all narrow-minded in the same way, which is shown when they gather and gossip about Edward (Burton, 1990). These are all examples of how there is not much difference from one another in a way that they are all controlled by the same, concrete social group. What the beginning of the film brings us is a type of realism where people live in the excessive stereotype of suburban America.
However, everything is unusual in Edward’s world. Tim Burton introduces another realism from Edward’s perspective. The impression of where Edward comes from is completely different from what is observed in the neighborhood. For instance, the black gothic castle is totally out of place in comparison to the open, light area of the neighborhood. Also, the black castle is frightening, unsafe and almost looks like a monster’s abode. This contrast creates an uncomfortable feeling and introduces us to the second realism of the “fairy tale” world. Edward’s first words, “Don’t go,” to Peg suggests that he desires contact with other people instead of being isolated. That is when she takes Edward, the “fairytale” figure into the neighborhood, where he experiences his social awakening.
In addition, mise-en-scene is used to show the contradictions between the two understandings of life. The barbecue and dinner scene show the emotional overkill and unstable conduct of the residents in the town by using the lively and distinctive color (Burton, 1990). The distinction with Edward’s gothic punk style of fashion, hairdo and makeup is unusual and marks him as an outcast. It is not only...