There are certain things in life that just hit you at the perfect time, in the perfect place.
That was Edward Scissorhands.
It’s an old story. Awkward kid, dealing with all the emotions and new and exciting pressures and experiences that come with puberty and high school.
Honestly, most people go through an awkward phase. It’s part of life. As a teen, it’s hard to see, but as an adult you find yourself looking at the kids in your life, and you want to tell them, “You are loved, and handsome/pretty, and you’ve got a brain in your head, and this will all suck and then it will be okay.”
But that’s a hard thing to say to a kid, and most of the time, you suspect that they won’t really hear you.
Sometimes, though? They can hear it in other places.
I heard that, to some extent, in Edward.
Here’s a guy with no parents. No understanding of the social structure of the world. He ends up living in a house with a beautiful girl, but lacks the words to tell her how he feels about her.
He just wants to make people happy, but doesn’t really understand how.
Things go well for him, and he smiles.
Things go poorly, and he lashes out.
If you’re a human, you probably went through this.
From all this, I learned:
FIND NEW WAYS TO TALK ABOUT UNIVERSAL HUMAN EXPERIENCES
There’s another lesson in Edward Scissorhands, though I think most people forget about it today.
It’s this: Tim Burton, before making Edward, made a movie called Batman. It made lots, and lots and lots of money.
And that’s why Tim got to go on and make Edward.
(Christopher Nolan did the same thing, years later, with Batman, and Inception.)
MAKE A BATMAN MOVIE
No, wait. Sorry.
BE WILLING TO DO THE BIG COMMERCIAL MOVIE, AND THEY’LL LET YOU MAKE YOUR ORIGINAL IDEA
Which is to say, there’s nothing wrong with what so many people call “Selling out.” Take the gig. Get the clout. Then come back and create something small and personal, if that’s what you “really” want to do.
There are probably other ideas I’ve taken away from Edward over the years. It makes sense, since I’ve seen it 19 times.
(Yes, I really did start counting. It’s also one of three movies I saw in theaters twice.)
As I finish writing up why I love my five (well, six) favorite movies, I’ve noticed a bit of a theme.
Most of the movies don’t have happy endings.
Evil Dead? Sad (well, unhappy, anyway) ending.
Dawn of the Dead? Ambiguous, trending towards bad.
When Harry Met Sally? Happy! The only one, though. And the flick is shot through with misery.
Trust? Ambiguous, trending towards sad.
Student Bodies? Unhappy ending.
And Edward Scissorhands?
The movie that kind of taught me that everything was going to be okay? That really, I would come out of things okay?
Sad ending. An ending that says we’ll walk out of terrifying situations remembering the good, and that might be the only happiness we ever get.
In the end (and skip this, if you’ve never seen the movie) Edward doesn’t learn to get along with the world, and he doesn’t get the girl.
Instead, he spends the rest of his life, locked away in a remote tower, remembering the girl he loves as she once was.
That’s a pretty solid summation of life, right there. Sometimes, all you’ve got are the memories.
And yeah, life can be sad, and ambiguous. And sometimes you do get lucky and meet the girl of your dreams.
So maybe there’s a final idea in there:
TELL THE TRUTH