Tim Burton includes symbolism to illustrate his point. For example, dereliction is commonly used to symbolise a forbidden or dangerous place, cookies represent the inner childhood of Edward. Vice is manifested in the housewives’ personalities and dcor and the machines in the mansion symbolise creativity, but the fact that they have fallen into disrepair symbolises the passing of time. The garden represents life and passion.
The mansion illustrates Edward’s difference and isolation. The gothic mansion is stone built with gargoyles all over it. This contrasts with the beautifully bright, well tended gardens surrounding it which shows his purity. When Peg goes through the arched wooden door we see the machines and the bird-like sculpture on the stairs that we recognise from the title sequence, all covered in cobwebs. The darkness and shadows inside the mansion give a sense of the unknown. The cuttings pinned up in the attic fireplace show the inside of Edward’s mind. It points towards what he aspires to do, which is to overcome his perceived disability and become normal.
The audience’s mood is manipulated throughout the opening of the film, taking it through curiosity, security, loneliness, familiarity, ridicule, disgust, sympathy, anticipation and fear. The snippets of information received about Edward before meeting him make him out to be a reclusive bogeyman. Edward emerges from the shadows into the light and the audience see his innocence. When he meets Peg, he is as scared of her she is of him, creating tension between them. The characters’ actions are supported by the mise-en-scï¿½ne described above.
The message Tim Burton is trying to put across is that beauty and horror are only skin deep, and judging by first impressions does not give an accurate picture. Narrative expectations are at the core of the story of Edward Scissorhands. At all levels, we are repeatedly shown that things are not as they seem at first. We are initially shown little bungalows that are very neat and prim, but then we find out that they do not house neat or prim people, but morally flawed individuals only out for what they can gain. Also, Peg is not just a makeup saleswoman and has a more profound side to her character as well. Edward, despite his outward appearance, is not dangerous or malicious, but has on the inside a child at odds with his shell. The director destabilises the mind of the audience by luring them and setting traps, only to reveal the deception later.
The opening of Edward Scissorhands is effective in establishing the framework of the plot, catching audience’s attention and playing with their emotions. It shows that there is a mystery to solve as to Edward’s enigmatic past. It creates tension and links between the characters. The hybrid genres that Tim Burton uses allow him to express dark concepts without the film becoming heavy. Add to this the beautiful cinematography and the audience is captivated for the rest of the film.