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  • Extreme off-topic - Edward Scissorhands

    All right, this is mainly a reaction to a movie, so is not relevant, however...

    I had seen this film partially many years ago, but only recently watched it carefully all the way through, and so was wondering if people here had any similar reaction to mine, or what reaction in general they had....

    I was stunned by Danny Elfman's score - what a masterpiece! it is one of the best recent works for cinema. It fulfills what Bernard Herrmann stated music should do in a movie - surround the story and film with a single, enveloping meaning. The music is simply brilliant. Also, Tim Burton is one of the best filmmakers working now, without a doubt.

    however, I was extremely disturbed by this film, despite the beautiful nature of the music, the genius of Johnny Depp who creates a great character, and the production in general. Am I off base here?

    What I noticed was that the story was very frustrating, dramatically - Edward is an outcast, but many people are outcasts, and discover some way of fitting in. But in this story, everyone - even Winona Ryder who loves him! - ends up rejecting him. So he goes back to the same situation he was in at the beginning. This is a frustrating dramatic plot. But beyond that, it is also untrue to human nature. Not EVERYONE in a town is a weakling, or an asshole, who rejects an unusual but charming person. And also, no one ever told the truth in this film - Edward saved the young boy heroically, he was wronged in being fooled by the criminals, he was blacklisted by the stupid neighbors - but nobody ever says anything about this! Not even the people who love him. So all of this is a contrived situation, dramatically, to make him "tragic."

    That is the most disturbing thing about it - that it is false to human behavior in general. I was thinking of two other very well-made films that are similarly contrived - "High Noon" and "Unforgiven." They both feature stories that depict people as ALL bad, or ALL weak. Except for the hero.

    is this a reverse sentimentality of the times? Say everyone is an asshole basically and you are being harsh but truthful? That is a lie!

    What should have happened is that the people who saw what happened would have said so, in front of everyone, and then Edward would have been vindicated. The family would have moved in with him in the mansion on the hill, and there would be a Happy Ending. But no! To be "sophisticated" we can't have that! it has to be "tragic" ---- and phony.

    O.K., this is a bit off topic from orchestration, but the film DOES have a Danny Elfman score!

  • Bill,
    I'm not sure about the reality in someone daring to swim against the tide of the rest of the mob. In my travels I saw many instances of 'human beings' turning their back as one on an unfortunate who was in some way different, whatever their consciences were screaming at them.

    Despite technical advances, and the onset of spandex, there's still a lot of thigh bone wavers out there, determined to ignore the potential advantages of human evolution, and peaceful, equal, coexistence.

    Fortunately, there's enough of us controversial types determined to form our own opinions, whatever the mob may 'decree', and level the balance somewhat.

    Not all is gloomy though my friend, and you made a good point.
    I'm not an Elfman fan, but he does ok in ES. At least it sounds original!



  • Yes, I don't really mean to criticize it, because it is a really beautiful film in many ways. You're right it is a fairy tale. I suppose it is in the category of being so good that it makes you really react to it, unlike most of the garbage being distributed today.

    Tarkovsky!!!! He is the greatest filmmaker who ever lived. My favorites of his are Stalker, Nostalghia, and Mirror. They are pure cinema poetry. Stalker is an amazing film in how it develops an allegory of all of human nature, within a sci-fi film ! And it is filmed all on real locations, that somehow become extremely weird and mysterious, exactly as the characters see them. Also, the original version of Solaris he did is an extremely intelligent sci-fi film, the only one to rank with "2001."

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    @vibrato said:

    I dont think the movie was trying to be realistic - on many occassions - it was trying to take the piss out of the place. The set, colours, social set up was a spoof on many things in a way (like the 80's door to door sale thing in the states) - and it was a very innocent appraoch - I think that the film was trying to do this on purpose. But its just my opinion. It was like a fairy tale....

    I think you're right on the money here, Tanuj. The film is not so much about a town, or a group of real people, or human nature, as it is about film, and the narrative economy of film. It is precisely the lack of vindication for its hero that underlines this premise. But it's a playful way of doing it, which I think is what makes it so radical and so disturbing... (Yes, I agree it's disturbing.) (It's a bit like Dogville by Von Trier, which is an amazing, totally frustrating, and eminantly dislikable film. But I do think it's quite brilliant, though in a completely opposite way.) If you look at it rather as an instance of inhumanity, expressed in the frame of an imaginary life, then I think it does express a very real aspect of humanity, which is the propensity for turning away, or averting one's gaze, in order to preserve one's sense of comfort or normalcy. That is very common in humanity. Also, the lack of vindication for the hero in the ending is what allows the process to repeat itself again and again, essentially to eternity... So it's not the idea that humanity is all bad, all the time, but simply that humanity will show its bad side, given the right (wrong?) circumstances, again and again, ad infinitum -- seemingly oblivious to the possibility of seeing things in a new way. But you know, I haven't really paid attention to the score, so I can't comment on that...

    One film recently that I found quite striking, and was really impressed with musically, was Babel. The film is definitely on the manipulative side, emotionally speaking, but it certainly is moving. And the music is woven in and out of the story in a fascinating way. I'd have to see it again to comment further, but I'd say it's certainly worth checking out.



  • That's a very interersting comment jbm.

    Another thing I thought - though this may be going a bit too far (my speciality) - was that the image of the main character at the end, alone in his self-created world, was a fantasy image of "The Artist" in the most ideal sense. He must create solely for the purpose of creation, even if the only thing other people get out of all his endless work is something as epheremal as snow falling in the night.

  • Let's not forget "The Red Dragon" which is a great Elfman score!

    As an Elfman fan had to put that in....

  • Elfman is one of my faves as well. Check out the DVD's of Edward Scissorhands and Red Dragon on their extra language tracks. They both feature the music score isolated (no dialogue/sfx) and in between cues Elfman lectures about the movie, etc.

    It's the reason I first bought a DVD player.

    The other movie that has this feature that I bought the DVD player for? The Matrix. One of my all-time favorite action movie scores. Don Davis does the score of his life for this movie and his in-between cue commentary is brilliant. A must-have for anyone even remotely interested in music for picture.


  • PaulP Paul moved this topic from Orchestration & Composition on