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Discuss the effectiveness of the opening ofTim Burton's 'Edward Scissorhands'

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Khalil Thirlaway, 10JS 28/12/03 English GCSE Media Coursework Discuss the effectiveness of the opening of Tim Burton's 'Edward Scissorhands' In this essay I will examine the dramatic and cinematographic devices used in the opening of Edward Scissorhands to create an effective introduction. The scenes are those up to and including the meeting of the main characters Peg and Edward In the opening scenes, Tim Burton sets out the moral message of the film. In making Edward Scissorhands he intended to 'deflate the American Dream', exposing the rotten core of society that hides beneath a pretty fa�ade. This is achieved by establishing two conflicting worlds inhabited by people who are the opposite of each other. The theme of the two worlds is at its most both prominent here and at the end of the film when the suburban world trespasses into the 'forbidden' world of the mansion. The town, as we see early on, looks superficially pretty and neat with each boxy bungalow sitting in a featureless garden almost identical to the next. Nothing stands out as individual and the only dwelling that differs from the rest is the mansion, which is shunned by all. As Peg visits each house the audience sees different social inadequacies through the behaviour of each housewife. The director uses these to subtly show us what is wrong with society; we are slovenly, immoral, uncaring and even fanatical. The mansion, on the other hand, looks scary and imposing from the outside and looms over suburbia like a threatening storm, but as the audience is introduced to Edward, they see that he is not a monster or a killer but a childlike boy in need of love. ...read more.


Were it not for his pained expression and childlike manner, he would be scary. The way that he immediately obeys when Peg tells him to put down his hands and the fact that he doesn't understand death, only that the inventor "didn't wake up" adds to his air of innocence. Interestingly, the town's men are marginal to the story and are stereotyped as breadwinners who have little to do with the women and children except at social functions. They play minor roles such as the bank manager, dishwasher repairman and Peg's husband. Even so, their conformity is evident when, later on in the film, they all depart for work at the same time, backing their cars out of their drives in synchronisation and all leaving like clockwork. The main representatives of suburbia and the only ones in the first few scenes, are the housewives; principally three of the four visited by Peg on her rounds: Joyce, Helen and the religious fanatic. These symbolise the three main defects in society that Tim Burton chooses to focus on: immorality, laziness, and bigotry. Their personalities are also reflected by the interior of their houses. The furnishings in Joyce's house are garish and in-your-face, and she wears clashing colours. In contrast, all the audience sees of the interior of Helen's house is her drab and faded blue wallpaper, and she wears a faded housecoat and curlers. This reflects her lack of refinement, and that she has looked after neither herself nor her house. ...read more.


Edward emerges from the shadows into the light and the audience see his innocence. When he meets Peg, he is as scared of her she is of him, creating tension between them. The characters' actions are supported by the mise-en-sc�ne described above. The message Tim Burton is trying to put across is that beauty and horror are only skin deep, and judging by first impressions does not give an accurate picture. Narrative expectations are at the core of the story of Edward Scissorhands. At all levels, we are repeatedly shown that things are not as they seem at first. We are initially shown little bungalows that are very neat and prim, but then we find out that they do not house neat or prim people, but morally flawed individuals only out for what they can gain. Also, Peg is not just a makeup saleswoman and has a more profound side to her character as well. Edward, despite his outward appearance, is not dangerous or malicious, but has on the inside a child at odds with his shell. The director destabilises the mind of the audience by luring them and setting traps, only to reveal the deception later. The opening of Edward Scissorhands is effective in establishing the framework of the plot, catching audience's attention and playing with their emotions. It shows that there is a mystery to solve as to Edward's enigmatic past. It creates tension and links between the characters. The hybrid genres that Tim Burton uses allow him to express dark concepts without the film becoming heavy. Add to this the beautiful cinematography and the audience is captivated for the rest of the film. 6 1 ...read more.

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