Love Lessons from Edward Scissorhands

It’s that time of year again. The holiday season is upon us – a brief moment of time known to most of us in western culture as the season of giving. With the current economic crisis, and a heightened awareness of conservation due to our struggling environment, many Americans are preoccupied with the challenge of gifting those we love. What is often overlooked during this consumer fueled holiday is the most precious and valuable gift of all – Love. It is this gift that is the motivating force behind Tim Burton’s unexpected and unconventional holiday classic, Edward Scissorhands. So this holiday season why not take a cue from Burton’s unique protagonist? Stay away from the stores and, instead, give someone the gift of yourself. If you’re unsure of how to do that, as most of us are, take a deep breath, smile and try the following:

1. Start with the heart: Although I have seen this movie at least ten times, this time around I was struck by a single moment – the moment we learn of Edwards’ creation. In a brief yet poignant flashback we see Edward in his original form, a nearly faceless robot preparing for the holidays in a room full of robotic concoctions. From across the room the Inventor approaches, in his hand a heart shaped sugar cookie which he holds up to Edwards’ chest. It is precisely this choice that motivates the entire subtext of the movie. The Inventor was inspired to bring Edward to life by giving him a heart. Not a thinking mind, not a perfect body but the ability to feel.  In our constantly chaotic, success driven society the importance of feeling, or loving, is often neglected, but in truth it is the one thing we all have in common. So while many articles have commented on Edward’s difference – a loner, a misunderstood artist – I’d like to suggest that it is not the differences that endears us to Edward, and eventually turns the townspeople against him, but rather how we see orselves in him.

2. Share yourself: Humans, at least Americans, spend most of their lives hiding our vulnerabilities and guarding ourselves from being hurt. Our protection isn’t as obvious as a fistful of knives, but is often just as harmful. With Edward Scissorhands director Tim Burton provides a physical metaphor for vulnerability. And while his hands do not have the tangible ability to feel, Edward touches people none the less. Front yards are transformed into botanical works of art and every woman in town lines up to receive a distinctive hairstyle. Everything as far as the eye can see is marked by Edward’s unique talents.

3. Make it snow:  Just as it began, the movie draws to a close with a simple, beautiful act – Kim dancing in the snow. In this brief moment we realize Kim’s love for Edward as she turns circles in the snow flakes created by his sculpting, literally enveloped in his love. Edward has no social understanding of how to participate in the life he has been brought into. He knows only how to be – that’s it, just be. And it is in this expression of who he is that Edward liberates Kim and she learns how to love without fear. For years Tim Burton has been “making it snow” in Hollywood by sharing his vision with an audience through innovative films like Beetlejuice and The Corpse Bride. It is the gift of truth – our talents, our love, ourselves – that is most worth giving. So this holiday season, when you’re thinking presents, think of yourself. Maybe it’s a mixtape of your favorite songs, or the chance to see a classic film on the big screen. Let us give to each other the passion in our souls and the love in our hearts. And by all means touch someone, because you can.

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