My favorite responsibility from Edward Scissorhands was probably the set. I can’t be sure whether or not this film was all shot in a studio, but in interest of my paper, I’m going to say it was. There was the quaint little suburban town where most of the movie took place, and there was Edward’s house, which brought forth a feeling of foreboding just from the look of it.
The first element of design I’d like to talk about was my most favorite, and in my opinion, best-used element, color. The contrast in this movie, in all seriousness, was some of the best, if not the best, I have ever seen. All the houses in the town were these goofy pastel colors, which, by themselves, would have represented an oddball in the neighborhood, but since everyone had pastel-colored houses, really brought the community together and just basically showed similarities in culture and lifestyles down there. Then, you have Edward’s house, which is all black and gloomy, which really segregates him from the townsfolk. But, he also has his beautifully colorful garden in front of his home, which shows that there’s another side to Edward, a nice side that you wouldn’t expect from the looks of his house. And, though this wouldn’t tie in to the set responsibility, the differences in the hair color of Edward and Kim show the separation that those two are experiencing, which shows distance in the face of love.
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The next element up for discussion is line. I felt that this element was a key in giving this film the look and feel Tim Burton was going after. Nearly all the lines were vertical lines, which showed that this wasn’t the most stable of situations ever concocted. Everything just seemed a lot more rigid and cold with the vertical lines, especially in the scenes when the townspeople begin searching frantically for Edward. Also, everything was cut off by angles, there were basically no curves whatsoever in this movie, and it showed that this place was confusing, and not particularly warm to boot. And again, this doesn’t follow the set responsibility, but Edward was created using essentially all vertical lines and sharp angles, while the townspeople had some curve to them, and had more horizontal lines, which again shows the differences between Edward and everyone else.
Shape is the last element that I would like to talk about before I conclude. All the shapes in Edward Scissorhands were either square or angular, there were absolutely no round shapes that come to mind. This shows the rigidity of the town, and the lack of flexibility of the townspeople. I mean, yes, most of the people were kind enough to him, for a time, but some people wanted nothing to do with him, such as Kim’s boyfriend and that crazy ‘holier-than-thou’ lady, which just shows the cold nature of some people. And as for the set, the triangle shape was used a lot, and though it is supposed to be reminiscent of stability, it really gave me a sense of awkwardness, confusion, and disarray. It just seems like an oddball shape, and it is used frequently, so you have the repetitive feeling of awkwardness throughout the whole of the film.
In my opinion, the three elements that I commented on were the most essential to the feeling of the film, which is why I discussed them. That is not to say that the other elements did not have huge roles in creating the mood of the film, because they did. I think that Tim Burton got the look and feel he was after, as he commented, he wanted it to seem like “and adult fairy-tale”, which it certainly did. Without the contrasts in color, line, and shape between Edward and the townspeople, the movie would not have had the same feeling as it did. I thought this movie was just phenomenal, and the design was absolutely crucial in doing so.
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