• Stefan Riedlinger

Edward Scissorhands - Danny Elfman - Soundtrack review


The original plan to discuss Danny Elfman's "Edward Scissorhands" in the last review was skipped because I was so excited about „La La Land", the movie and the score. So, now finally, another Danny Elfman score to discuss on my website.


The movie


"Edward Scissorhands" was one of the first Tim Burton movies I watched. As a big fan of American Horror Star Vincent Price, I was very curious about this movie and considered the plot as romantic, scary and haunting altogether. Tim Burton developed the idea before his successful "Batman"-movie, but was only able to finally release the movie after "Batman".


I read that Tom Cruise was the preferred choice of the studio, but the meeting with Cruise and Burton was not successful. Even Tom Hanks turned the part down, so it finally went to Johnny Depp, Burton's first choice. I read that Depp "wept like a newborn" and immediately found personal and emotional connections with the story. Stan Winston created the scissor hands for Edward, and the role of the Inventor was specifically developed for Vincent Price, his last role before he died.

Here is the trailer:

It is also interesting to know that the genesis of "Edward" came from a drawing by Burton as a teenager which reflected his feelings of isolation and being unable to communicate to the people around him in Burbank, the city he grew up. Caroline Thompsons, a young novelist, put Burton's idea into a screenplay. I found a video with some funny and goofy facts:


The movie is one of the greatest fairy tales Burton ever put on screen. Edward is found living alone in the attic of a Gothic castle, a setting that is also used for main characters in "Batman" and "The Nightmare Before Christmas". Like in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein", a mob confronts the „evil creature“ and tries to kill him. Similar to "Beauty and the Beast", Edward is unable to express his love for Kim, played by first choice actress Winona Ryder, and last but not least, the movies shows in the setting and topics a lot of influence of German Expressionism and Gothic fiction archetypes.


This is perhaps just a small observation but when you watch the beginning and the end scenes and see this little girl in her huge bed, you can imagine how great Tim Burton is to give his audience the vision how lonely a kid can sometimes feels in his or her bed...


The music


"Edward Scissorhands" is the fourth feature film collaboration between director Burton and composer Danny Elfman. The orchestra consisted of 79 musicians, and Elfman cites "Scissorhands" as his most personal and favorite work. In addition to Elfman's music, three Tom Jones songs were also added. The main theme became one of Elfman's well-known themes. When I attended a Jerry Goldsmith concert in London, I met a local Jazz composer and he was writing the music for a Christmas movie from Albania. The director asked to compose the music exactly in the style of "Edward Scissorhands".


For me "Batman" and "Edward" are Elfman's best scores. Both were very orchestrated by Steve Bartek and conducted by Shirley Walker. Elfman uses his typical minimalistic style but also added a choir, and this increases the lyrical approach and furthermore emphasizes the fairy tale aspects of both movies.

Here you can listen to the main theme, the beautiful waltz Elfman created. Elfman starts with some chimes, so the music sounds like a lullaby:

I also found a piano version of the theme:

The album from 1990 I bought has 16 score tracks and runs 49 minutes. Like all Elfman scores, the music becomes a little bit repetitive after a while, and you can skip some tracks and listen to the best ones. One of these is for one of the most beautiful scenes in the movie: "Ice Dance": During the Christmas holiday, Edward carves an angelic ice sculpture modelled after Kim (Ryder). The ice shavings being thrown into the air and falling down like snow, a rarity in this area. Kim dances in the snowfall. Jim, Kim's jealous boyfriend, arrives and calls out to Edward, which surprises him and he accidentally cuts Kim's hand. See here the scene:

The album is musical storytelling at his best: "Introduction", the first track, introduces the lovely main theme, track 2 "Storytelling" gives us the background to the story. Elfman composed a lovely piece of music before with track 3 "Castle On The Hills", the haunting and darker aspects of the story and the score start. Track 4 "Beautiful New World/Home Sweet Home" has a wonderful opening with the sharp. Track 5 "Cookie Factory" I normally skip; this track is composed in the typical "Beetlejuice" style. I am not a big fan of this kind of music. Therefore, I also skip the next track "Ballet De Suburbia" (even though the use of the sax is very nice). These tracks are more musical Micky Mousing which Elfman is really good in. Remember, he also composed the music for "The Simpsons".


We then have the "Ice Dance", and with "Edward Meets the World: Etiquette Lesson" we are back to the lyrical parts of the score. Track 9 "Edward the Barber" is more of a musical joke with a funny use of the Spanish Castanets and a nice fast woodwind performance in the middle of the track. Track 10 "Esmeralda" is a short one (I also normally skip), and with "Death", we have one of the saddest tracks of the score, a good musical expression of feeling lonely. "The Tide Turns" comprised three key scenes: the House Robbery, Kevin's Rescue, and Edward's outburst. I also normally skip this track.


"With Final Confrontation", we have the dramatic music for the showdown. Elfman uses the choir in a very haunting way. The music is purely dramatic, and for sure one of the best tracks, Elfman ever composed. Even though the scene is very dramatic, Elfman balances the track very good between the lyrical parts and the dramatic moments. You should listen to the next tracks "Farewell", "The Grand Finale" and "The End" together without taking a break.

This is like a wonderful suite, with "The Grand Finale" as one of the best tracks of the whole score.


Listen to "Grand Finale" here:

"Edward Scissorhands" is not just a wonderful score, it is for sure one of the best scores Elfman ever composed and just a heart-warming score that can bring you tears in your eyes...


I found here a live performance, not the best one, but the solo violist at 6'30 is nice to watch:



Copyright © Stefan Riedlinger, 2017, all rights reserved. The reviews and other textual content contained on the amazingmoviemusic.com site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Stefan Riedlinger.


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