Edward Scissorhands Cinematic Techniques

Edward Scissorhands is a film directed by Tim Burton and produced by 20th Century Fox. With cinematography done by Stefan Czapsky, the film is very unusual for its ’90s time period because it uses many different film techniques that weren’t used much before or after that decade. Jump-cuts are cuts in film editing where there is continuity of action between two shots, but the shots themselves do not match up perfectly (Neuendorf).

This technique of cutting never appears in Edward Scissorhands, but with all the deviations from normal film structure with the film’s content itself, this would have been an interesting approach to use with some of film’s more surreal elements. For example, when Edward walks in with his arms full of hedge trimmings, he drops them abruptly when Kim asks for scissors. The film could have used jump-cuts to make the action seem even more surreal by throwing out continuity of time or place. Shot reverse shot is a film editing technique where two different shots are alternated between (Neuendorf).

This often creates an imbalance between shots because one person’s face will be in profile while the other’s is frontal, but this film utilises that same imbalance to its own advantage several times throughout Edward Scissorhands. For example, when Kim asks for scissors and Edward drops his cuttings, shot reverse shot is used so each actor gets equal screen time. But since they are acting towards opposite directions, this film technique is used to have an unnatural structure that appears surreal. This film technique also appears at the film’s climax when Kim and Edward are sitting on opposite sides of a couch.

Superimposition is a film editing technique where images are layered on top of each other (Neuendorf). This film technique isn’t used much in Edward Scissorhands, but there are two primary examples worth mentioning. The first example includes all the scenes with Edward himself because he has self-image issues due to his physical appearance. For example, when he looks into a mirror after pruning hedges outside, slowly closing it before he breaks it completely reveals that he sees himself differently than others do -and how they would see him if he were to look as wild as his hedge cuttings.

This film technique is used again near the film’s climax when Kim and Edward kiss for the first time, and images of flowers and stars are superimposed behind them. The film technique makes it seem like there is a higher power looking over them and what they’re doing, and since Edward still looks very much like an ‘Other’ (and not human) because of his scissor hands, this film technique helps make him appear more natural by making him look less out-of-place. Split screen is a film editing technique where one image is split into several different images (Neuendorf).

This film technique doesn’t appear until about halfway through Edward Scissorhands when Kim is walking home late at night. She sees Edward cutting hedges, and she helps him finish the job. A split screen film technique shows both of them in one image carrying on with their activity while simultaneously sharing it with each other. This film technique is used again in the film’s climax when it appears that Edward isn’t listening to Kim when they are talking about Jane possibly being hurt in an accident by getting hit by a car, but he actually hears what she’s saying because split screens show his reactions.

Although this film technique doesn’t appear much throughout Edward Scissorhands, its use at these two key moments adds to the narrative without distracting or detracting from what is happening in-scene. Vertical wipes are film techniques that move from the top of the frame to the bottom, or from left to right (Neuendorf). Vertical wipes in film aren’t used much in Edward Scissorhands, but there is one scene where this film technique is used with a film score.

At night when Kim and her family have guests over for dinner, everyone has a good time except for Kim. She goes upstairs and cries in a room alone while a sad song plays on an old record player in the background. The film’s soundtrack comes through the speakers very vividly because of how each side of the film has been altered by Tim Burton throughout Edward Scissorhands with different film colours and film styles, so when this film technique is used during a film sequence it becomes very disjointed and reminds the audience that they are watching a film.

It’s not only Kim who is able to hear this film score because her father also hears it, even though he is downstairs with everybody else having a good time. This film technique makes Kim seem more isolated from the rest of the world, which actually helps emphasise the film’s overall story of being an ‘Other’ in society.

Tim Burton is known for his film making abilities and unique film elements. One such element in ” Edward Scissorhands” ┬áis the use of camera angles to convey messages or establish a certain mood in the film. The film begins with shots from above, suggesting that we are looking down upon this strange set of circumstances; The film then moves on to more ‘common’ film-making techniques in order to show the viewer what is happening.

Once Edward starts demonstrating his skill at scissoring, filmic devices are used that convey that something is wrong or odd with Edward’s method of cutting hair. This hints that there might be something wrong with him. When Kim leaves abruptly after having her hair cut too short he follows, leaving the clientele perplexed and the salon owner charged with clearing up the mess.

The filmic technique used here also contributes to building tension when it comes time for Edward to leave – this shot makes it seem as if everyone is rushing about frantically while he still has scissors in his hands which suggests that the townspeople will come after him with force if necessary to protect themselves.

The filmic techniques used in “Edward Scissorhands” are interesting because they subtly hint at the film’s themes, help create tension and establish moods without distracting from the film itself or becoming too apparent upon first viewing.

This is a general article about film making techniques used by Tim Burton in his film Edward Scissorhands.   For a more specific article about film-making techniques used during a particular scene of the film, see Cinematic Techniques Used In Scene Five Of Edward Scissorhands.  For an analysis of how film-making is juxtaposed with narrative elements in this film, see Narrative vs Cinematic Elements In Tim Burton’s Movies.  Please do not copy or edit this article in any way, or you will be reported for plagiarism.

Most authors on the subject of film making agree that film is a form of art and expression. This subject has been widely debated since film was invented and is still debatable today.  For some interesting reading on film as an art-form, go to: Film As An Art Form: An Introduction To The Subject. Please do not copy or edit this article in any way, or you will be reported for plagiarism.  

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