Edward Scissorhands + Black Orpheus

Double feature: “Edward Scissorhands” and “Black Orpheus” are both imbued with two main elements – the staggering visual beauty of their wholes and their details, and the solidity and internal coherence of their creators’ visions.

These visions, equal in imaginative strength, are contrasting in mood but ultimately reconcilable in philosophy.  “Edward Scissorhands” quivers with sensitive melancholy and alienation, while “Black Orpheus” glows with resilient exuberance.  The “grotesque” protagonist of the former film highlights the grotesquerie of the “normal,” while the impoverished favela dwellers of the latter film implicitly point to the spiritual poverty of the better-off.  The godlike figures of both films are largely or entirely offstage, and are unable to protect their beloved creations from tragic ends.

Both films inject new life into old stories – the “stranger comes to town” trope and Greek mythology, respectively – by grounding them in fully realized settings that are simultaneously imagined and actual. The perpendicularity of the films’ “nightmare suburbia” and “fantasyland Rio” worlds to our own forestalls any serious considerations of their authenticity, and allows us to focus on the fullness of their conviction.

For a marathon: After these two visual feasts, continue to train – and feed – your eyes with the ravishing representational and imaginative detail of “Romeo and Juliet” and “Antonio Gaudí.”

“Edward Scissorhands” and “The New World” have similar points to make about the mystery and wonder of first encounters.

(Creative Commons licensed original images courtesy of “Muy Yum” and “joannova” at Flickr)

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