The screenwriter of Tim Burton’s classic Edward Scissorhands was moved to tears when she learned of Edward’s significance to the disability community.
Screenwriter Caroline Thompson, who wrote Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands, was moved to tears when she learned the significance of the lead character to the disability community. Widely regarded as one of Burton’s best films, Edward Scissorhands stars Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder in a fantastical drama about the angst of fitting in. The film celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, and still maintains a solid position in the film canon.
The ‘90s cult classic follows Edward, an artificial man who has scissors for hands after being left unfinished by a late scientist. The character has been shunned from society and lives in isolation until a suburban saleswoman finds him and welcomes him into her home. Depp’s Edward not only represents the agony of trying to fit in but also struggling to do so because of a visual difference. At times, Edward uses the scissors to his advantage, but in other moments they cause him to inadvertently harm people. Most of the people in the town judge him harshly and only treat him well when they can use him to their advantage. Burton often centers characters who are lovable yet misunderstood, and Edward is the perfect example.
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According to Insider, Thompson did a Q&A for a screening of the film during the Reel Abilities Film Festival, which “explores, embraces, and celebrates the diversity of our shared human experience.” Of course, Thompson knows the film has been a critical success for three decades now, but she notes, “I did not realize what an icon Edward is for the disabled community and how much confidence and comfort and clarity about themselves he gave many people.” Upon realizing Edward’s significance, Thompson says, “I started to cry. How touching can that be? People who are suffering otherness that is so visual, and people are so cruel, to have been a support was a beautiful feeling.”
Many people can relate to a character that has been outcast, but perhaps the best part of Edward is that he accomplishes things because of his differences, rather than in spite of them. Thompson, who also wrote The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride, does a beautiful job exploring the otherness of Edward and illustrating why he is equally deserving of love and respect. Sadly, most of the characters in the film are busy rejecting him or fetishizing him, rather than accepting him for who he is.
It makes perfect sense that Edward Scissorhands is one of the classics. The greatest films possess the ability to extend a hand and connect to people in the audience, telling stories that let them know they’re not alone. A good movie also promotes conversation and challenges the way people think and act, especially toward those who are different from them. This film tells a story so rich and timeless, that there are always new discoveries to be made about it, even by the creators themselves.
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