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Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

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Released 22-Nov-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Fantasy Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Tim Burton (Director)
Audio Commentary-Danny Elfman (Composer)
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer-2
TV Spots-3
Gallery-Concept Art
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 100:40 (Case: 103)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:47) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Tim Burton

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Johnny Depp
Winona Ryder
Dianne Wiest
Anthony Michael Hall
Kathy Baker
Vincent Price
Alan Arkin
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Danny Elfman

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 4.0 L-C-R-S (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (96Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Czech
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    For me, Tim Burton, and Johnny Depp, this is where it all began. Back in 1990, when I was a fresh-faced young uni student, I'd discovered a few things about women, namely, that I'd do whatever possible to have my way with them. In particular, there was one likely lass whom I was particularly fond of, somewhat of the gothic persuasion. After one day overhearing her talking about Edward Scissorhands, I telephoned a film student mate (no IMDB in those days), asking him what the hell it was all about. He gratefully obliged my query, I had a date, and the rest, as they say is history. Long after the lass in question left the scene, Burton remains one of my favourite directors, and his collaborations with Depp, such as Ed Wood, and Sleepy Hollow, have been some of my favourite movies.

   Edward Scissorhands opens with an old woman (Winona Ryder) sitting by a fireplace on a snowy night, attempting to coax her grand-daughter to sleep on a cold, blizzardy night. Refusing to go to sleep until Grandma explains to her exactly why it snows, she sets in, and commences her reminiscences.

    Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest) is an Avon lady in Anytown, USA, a cul de sac of a suburb, in which the houses are identical but for their pastel colouration. Overlooking the town is a menacing castle at the top of its own mountain, and Peg, proving to be unsuccessful in town, braves this forbidding façade, and heads up the steep drive where she finds someone in dire need of facial care products, Edward (Johnny Depp). Edward is all alone in the castle, but that's the least of his problems – the biggie is that instead of hands, he sports a collection of knives, scissors and other implements, and a punk hairdo and leather outfit to boot. In a series of flashbacks, we learn that the owner of the castle, an inventor (Vincent Price), created Edward, but unfortunately, before Edward was finished, "he didn't wake up".

   Undeterred by this bizarre vision, Peg takes Edward home to live with her family. Immediately Edward causes a stir with the locals, who adore this oddity. As an added bonus, not only do Edward's skills with his unusual hardware allow him to turn the neighbourhood shrubbery into a living art gallery, but he also gives a mean haircut. Among Edward's biggest fans is terminally horny neighbour Joyce (Kathy Baker), but despite her best efforts Edward is smitten with Kim (Winona Ryder). And here's the problem: Kim has a boyfriend, the mean-spirited Jim (Anthony Michael Hall), whose evil machinations see Edward go from the toast of the town to public enemy #1.

   The world created by Burton is an entirely artificial one, but in many instances his vision of suburbia is so real, it's scary. It is also a beautiful one: many of the visuals are just stunning in their weirdness, and the director has created a cast of characters (or should I say caricatures) that are befitting of their setting. Johnny Depp in the title role shows that he always had it, and his portrayal of a character so full of desire and feeling (but with hands that injure all he touches) is painfully spot on, and produced with so few lines of dialogue. Also brilliant are Diane Wiest (Parenthood) as the friendly Avon lady who becomes Edward's surrogate mother, and Alan Arkin (So I Married An Axe Murderer) as Edward's surrogate father, Bill, is just hilarious. A young Winona Ryder (Girl, Interrupted) comes across, as, well...young, but almost without fail, the supporting performances are excellent, including among others, Kathy Baker (The Cider House Rules).

   Edward Scissorhands can be viewed as a fun (if slightly skewed) fairy tale, but it also works on so many more levels. This is primarily a satire aimed squarely at American suburbia, but Burton touches many themes: variations on the tale of the Beauty and the Beast, meditations on loneliness and art, the perils of non-conformity, and the dangers of fame and notoriety. Every time I see this movie, it just makes me think a little bit more about it, and if that's not enough from a fantasy/romance/comedy, then you're asking far more than you're likely to get in these days of sanitized, multiplex-friendly movies.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer is adequate, and not too bad in light of the age of the source material.

    It is presented at a measured aspect ratio of 1.83:1, and features 16x9 enhancement. There was something of a slight lack of sharpness to the image which was just a little diffuse throughout, as well as a slight lack of detail, most apparent in the backgrounds. There are also some instances of background grain (especially in the lower light shots), and some more noticeable grain at 4:03 and again at 4:20. Shadow detail was good, without being excellent, subject to the detail limitations referred to above.

    If there is one thing that this transfer doesn't lack, it's colour. From the pastels covering almost everything, including the houses, to the extremely gaudy wardrobe worn by almost all of the actors, the transfer renders the Technicolor world in which the movie is set beautifully, although without the vibrancy of a recently made movie. There were no instances of colour bleed or over-saturation (which would have been most disappointing). The blacks were also deep and solid.

    I didn't notice any MPEG artefacts, however there were a few film-to-video artefacts to speak of. Aliasing was fairly rare and mild, with the most noticeable instances of this defect appearing at 28:00 on a building vent, at 59:35 on some horizontal blinds, and again at 34:10 on some roof shingles. There were also a few instances of telecine wobble: at 5:15 - 5:29, again at 10:29, and more at 16:38. Pleasingly, I only noticed two minor film artefacts in the guise of white specks in the whole feature.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Aside from the two Dolby Digital 2.0 commentary tracks, the sole audio option is a Dolby Digital 4.0 track (Left-Center-Right-Surround). I listened to all three tracks. I felt that the quality of the 4.0 track didn't really exceed what you would expect from a good Dolby Surround mix. The main benefit of the format employed, though, was that it allowed a lovely wide soundstage (although extremely front-heavy) in which the score was showcased.

    The dialogue was always clear and understandable, and there were no specific defects in the soundtrack that I could hear. Audio sync was perfect.

    The Danny Elfman score was reminiscent of his other efforts for the director (including Batman and Beetlejuice): an orchestral score with some traditional horror-style overtones produced by the choral accompaniment.

    The surround channel wasn't called upon too frequently, and it was mainly used to support the score, without too much in the way of ambient effects. When it was employed, I felt it was a little low in the mix. In light of the fact that there is no specific subwoofer channel encoded on the soundtrack, my sub did little more than pick up some of the lower frequencies of the score, and for this, it was nicely supportive.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    A very good package of extras is presented with this 10th Anniversary Edition.


    A nicely designed animated menu, it is themed around the castle with the score playing in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded sound. There is an animated intro and animated transitions. It is 16x9 enhanced.

Audio Commentary - Tim Burton (Director)

    The director speaks fairly regularly, although less frequently as the movie goes on, resulting in some lengthy silences, and is a little lacklustre in his delivery. He has some interesting things to say about the production side of things, but everything else seems to be a little random, and some of it pointless. However, we are given something of an insight into Burton's mind (although this may not be a good thing!). At times, it seemed that he was engrossed in the movie, and only uttered the odd amusing aside. Overall, though, this is a worthwhile addition, and a must for Burton fans. Unfortunately, though, the 96 Kb/s sound makes it sound a lot like listening to it over AM radio.

Audio Commentary - Danny Elfman (Composer)

    Rather than a traditional commentary, this is an isolated score featuring comments during the silences from the composer. I love the way that he whispers on the odd occasion where he feels he needs to comment when the music is playing, but many of the comments are quite uninteresting. However, I found the discussion of the inspirations for various parts of the score valuable. If looked at as an isolated score, then this is an excellent feature, but in the way of a commentary, it was a little too specific to keep my interest for too long. It does, however, provide an insight into the mind of a composer.

Featurette (4:26)

    Presented at 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this promotional featurette contains grabs of talking head interviews with the stars, the screenwriter (Caroline Thompson), and the director, as well as some very brief production footage interspersed with clips from the movie. Too brief to be of any real interest.

Soundbites (8:37)

    Out-takes from the featurette, here there are snippets of interviews from Johnny Depp (1:03), Winona Ryder (1:21), Diane Wiest (0:44), Tim Burton (0:39), Caroline Thompson (1:30), Alan Arkin (0:34), Vincent Price (1:48) and Danny Elfman (1:40). Worth a listen.

Trailers and TV Spots

    All of the following are presented at 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and are of fairly poor visual quality.

Concept Art

    22 images from the twisted mind of the director, I was a little disturbed about how much the imagined Edward looks like Burton himself.

Special Thanks

    A list of thank yous for those famous enough to deserve one for the DVD production.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on nothing.

    As the difference between PAL and NTSC is probably more significant than the difference between the audio track bit rates, I feel that the Region 4 version is to be preferred in light of the identical extras package.


    Edward Scissorhands is a beautiful modern day fable, and I'm glad that there are filmmakers like Tim Burton willing to bring stories like this to life in his unique fashion. Despite a slight lack of sharpness and detail, a beautiful rendition of the bright colour palette saved the video transfer, but unfortunately the Dolby Digital 4.0 soundtrack is no better than a quality Dolby Surround encoded mix. A good extras package is provided for a movie that I feel is deserving as a modern classic.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Anthony Curulli (read my bio)
Wednesday, November 22, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D608
SpeakersFront: Yamaha NS10M, Rear: Wharfedale Diamond 7.1, Center: Wharfedale Sapphire, Sub: Aaron 120W

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