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How Does The Director Tim Burton Convey The Alienation Of Edward Scissorhands At The Beginning Of The Film

How does Tim Burton the director convey the alienation of Edward Scissorhands at the beginning of the film?

Tim Burton uses many different techniques such as character, setting, colour, contrast and camera angles to convey the alienation of Edward at the beginning of the film. Tim Burton grew up in California in the 1960s where he watched cheap, low-quality horror movies, as he had been interested in this genre for a while. Despite this interest in younger horror, he worked on ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Fox and the Hound’ before moving on to create some of his well-known titles such as ‘The Corpse Bride’, ‘Nightmare before Christmas’ and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In this film ‘Edward Scissorhands’ Tim Burton uses sinister themes to continue the idea of younger horror. Throughout the film, there are many autobiographical elements, which may represent parts of his childhood.

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The film Edward Scissorhands tells the story of Edward; the man created by an inventor, who died before finishing him and left Edward with scissors instead of hands. Edward is a very alienated character and Tim Burton uses Edwards’ unusual looks, clothing and his first impressions to make him seem more alien and unusual than he already is.

At the beginning of the film, Tim Burton uses the appearance of characters to begin to illustrate the alienation of Edward. He uses the appearance of Edward to make him seem as if he is an outcast as he is dressed in black leather garments that look as if they are part of his body. This helps to show the isolation of Edward as the rest of the people in the neighbourhood are all dressed perfectly in matching bags and shoes.

This makes Edward seem like even more of an outcast as he has chaotic black hair with black leather boots which make him seem as if he is a monster like Frankenstein. Edward can be compared with the monster of Frankenstein in many ways as they have both been created by an inventor, and they are both classed as monsters, even though they both turn out much more inviting than before.

When the audience first sees Edward emerging from the shadows they expect him to be dangerous and vicious as he is just a black outline and you can see the contours of the scissors which turn out to be his hands. In reality, he is very scared and lonely as he has been isolated in the mansion ever since he was made. After Edward has first come out of the shadows he speaks to Peg, asking her not to leave. When they hear his voice it does not match his look so therefore the audience is not expecting it. This makes him seem even stranger as he is not what is expected.

Throughout the film, Edward’s personality develops and the audience starts to see past the black leather and scissor hands and into his personality where he is very immature and child-like but yet he is very inquisitive. When Peg is bringing him back to her house in the car Edward is very curious about the neighbourhood and he does not seem to have a very good understanding of the world around him. When they are both in the car Edward seems very na�ve and innocent as he has no real understanding of what life is like outside his mansion.

The setting in Edward Scissorhands is very important to the film. The whole purpose of the setting is mainly to show the contrast between Edward and the people in the neighbourhood. The Neighbourhood is very colourful and tidy whereas the mansion is very dark and angular.

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At the beginning of the film, the neighbourhood seems to represent the people as they are all similar on the outside but then turn out to be something different from how they are presented in the opening of the film. The contrast between the mansion and the neighbourhood is shown when Peg sees the mansion out of her mirror, and for the first time, the audience can see the large contrast between the colour of the neighbourhood and the gloom of the mansion.

As she is driving towards the mansion you can see the neighbourhood and the mansion next to each other. It now appears to be very dark and mysterious but when Peg reaches the top of the mountain, the mansion seems brighter and less intimidating.

The ideas of gardens are used throughout the film and there are two main gardens in the film. First of all, there are the gardens of the neighbourhood which are very similar with straight, ugly bushes with nothing being out of place. Whereas the garden of the mansion is expected to be overgrown and ugly like the plants overhanging the gate, but once passed these gates the garden is very neat and cared for. The bushes have all been cut to the shapes of creatures or the main centrepiece of the garden which is a large hand. The overgrown bushes and plants in the driveway may be seen as a barrier between the neighbourhood and the mansion.

The weather is also an important part of the setting in Edward Scissorhands. The weather changes depending on the location and the characters that are there. For example at the beginning of the film when you are first shown the mansion it is portrayed as being an intimidating place as it is first seen when it is cold, dark and snowy. This creates the effect that it is not a very pleasant place and this is what it always looks like.

The audience finds out that this is not what the mansion is really like as when Peg goes up to the mansion as she is wandering around the garden it is very light and sunny. This creates a positive atmosphere but when she enters the mansion it is very different as it is once again cold, dark and sinister. When arriving into the neighbourhood Peg and Edward are the centre of attention and once again it is sunny and bright. This is a change for Edward as he is used to being up in the dark mansion.

Colour is a very important part of the film as it is used to convey many different feelings and atmospheres during the film. The first few colours seen in the film are all very dark, blue or grey. This is during the titles which give the impression that the whole film may be dark and uninviting like the opening of the film.

The colour red is a very sinister colour but it can be used to represent many different things such as love, anger or passion. The older lady at the beginning of the film is dressed in a red shawl which symbolizes warmth; however, the woman in the first house is also wearing red, possibly symbolizing the anger she conveys towards Peg.

Orange is the colour of the walls in the young girl’s bedroom. This helps to show the warmth and the inviting feel of the bedroom against the cold and dark winter outside. In the bedroom, there is also a large orange fire which also helps to show the warmth and love inside the bedroom. When Peg is in the upper room of the mansion she sees the newspaper clips. These are all different colours and many are orange. This helps to show the colour and exuberance of the neighbourhood. These ideas are also shown through Peg’s bright yellow car and the houses in the neighbourhood.

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Green is not used very much in the film, only to show the freshness of some houses and of the bushes and gardens. All of the gardens and bushes in the area are all the same shade of green which represents the similarity between all of the people that live there. The green could also be used to portray the artistic talent of Edward when he is cutting hedges all over the neighbourhood.

When the audience first sees Edward he emerges from the shadows that are dark blue. At the start of the film in between the shots of the machinery, the viewers see the side of Edwards’s face but it is illuminated in blue lights along with the rest of the film opening. Blue is possibly used to show the detachment of Edward and the mansion from the rest of the neighbourhood.

Near the beginning of the film, Peg is shown inside this house helping a girl choose some make-up. Peg and the girl are sitting on a pink bed in a pink bedroom which makes her seem like a young girls doll when she tells Peg that she actually has no money and is unable to buy anything. This infuriates Peg as she has wasted her time with someone who was just using her for the free samples. When Peg first meets Edward she is wearing purple and this could be to symbolize her shock when seeing Edward for the first time.

Black is usually used to symbolize death, horror, depression and loneliness. Edward is wearing black, and by doing this he is showing the loneliness and depression he may feel. White is used in contrast to black but can also have many various meanings such as emptiness and purity. In the titles, the contrast of black and white is used which has a striking effect.

A range of colours is used throughout the film to represent different themes or contrasts in the opening of the film in particular. The cuttings in Edward’s house are multi-coloured symbolizing the lack of colour in his life compared to the colours of the outside world. The houses are all different colours to convey the different personalities within the neighbourhood. Even though they are colourful they are always pastel which makes them seem artificial and fake like the people of the neighbourhood.

The people of the neighbourhood never wear one colour; they are always in a contrast of colours which usually match the colours of their houses. There are many different coloured flowers in Edward’s garden, but not in his house, which indicates that he may have grown used to the fact that he has a colourless life.

The use of sound in Edward Scissorhands is very important as it sets the scene of the film by using diegetic and non-diegetic sounds. In the opening credits, the audience can see the machinery working but they hear a very mysterious and adventurous orchestral piece of music with some small sections of the choir. This is non-diegetic as you can not hear the sounds of the machinery and the music does not seem to fit in with the rest of the opening. Once the film has started and they start to see the bedroom and the mansion the music slows down and becomes softer. This is diegetic as it seems to fit in with the scene of the little girl in her bedroom.

There are many diegetic sounds in the film that are repeated such as dogs barking, water in gardens, radios and doorbells. All of these sounds are likely to be heard in the neighbourhood and this is what makes them diegetic sounds. Most of the diegetic sounds are simple noises that are repeated throughout the film.

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Whereas the non-diegetic sounds are usually longer pieces of orchestral music that do not fit in with what is going on. These non-diegetic pieces of music are usually heard on journeys, such as the journey to the mansion, the journeys around the neighbourhood and the opening credits, as the audience can not hear anything that they see.

Camera angles are used in the opening of the film to try and convey the alienation of Edward Scissorhands by using many different techniques of camera angles and movements.

In the beginning of the film panning and tracking are used to set the scene as you can see everything that is happening or follow what is going on from behind a character. When you are shown the face of the inventor a close-up is used. Dramatic tension can be built by focusing on the face before moving on to show other parts of the scene such as scenery or other important objects or characters. The titles have been shot at a canted angle to create the impression that everything is unbalanced.

The young girl’s room is first shown when the camera zooms out of the mansion to show the young girl in her oversized bed with her grandmother putting her to bed. Out of the window, you can see the mansion and a low angle shot is used when looking out of the window to make it seem as if you are looking up at the mansion and this makes it seem very overpowering.

When in the neighbourhood most shots of the characters are medium shots so that you can see their clothing and posture which changes to show their feelings towards other characters, other shots are panning to show the perfect neighbourhood, but when the mansion comes into view the camera zooms out even more to exaggerate the contrast between the two.

When the camera is on top of the mountain or inside the mansion there is a few times when the camera looks down out of a window or the hole in the roof and where the mansion is on top of a mountain the camera is looking down which creates the impression that the mansion is very overpowering.

When Peg is driving Edward home in her car the camera is constantly panning, either showing Edward and Peg in the car, the reaction of the neighbours when they see Edward in the car with Peg or the car driving away from the mansion towards the neighbourhood where Edward is an outcast.

Tim Burton uses all of these different techniques to convey the alienation of Edward Scissorhands. Although they could have all been used on their own the way in which they are used together helps to finish the idea of complete alienation at the beginning of the film.

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How Does The Director Tim Burton Convey The Alienation Of Edward Scissorhands At The Beginning Of The Film. (2021, Sep 25). Retrieved September 30, 2022, from