Fiona Rennie 6a2
~ looking at Levi Strouse's theory of Binary Oppositions
Levi Strauss Idea was that “ To understand the good, the audience has to understand the evil – to understand Black we have to understand white.” In doing this we achieve a deeper understanding of the connotations created for characters, settings and ideas in the film. Despite the fact that in some societies, there will be different interpretations of these codes, the idea of binary oppositions still applies to some extent. Tim Burton's 'Edward Scissorhands' is a great example of where Levi Strauss's theory is successfully employed. The idea of good an evil is a strong concept used throughout the film where both characters and setting with the use of cultural assumptions help the audience to understand these in greater detail.
There characters in the film which clearly fit into two categories; good and bad – eg. Kim and her mother Peg are conveyed as good characters from the start, just as Esmerelda and Jim are seen as Bad characters. There are also characters who seem to lie on the line between the two the main one being Edward.
Traits which connote these assumptions of Good vs Evil ~
Edward- The scary appearance of Edward goes against the stereotype and would instantly place him in the 'bad' category – with his dark clothes, pasty white skin, deep scars on his face and the obvious lethal scissors for hands – if it weren't for his kind and giving nature. His terrified, innocent expression, shyness and love for Kim shows through his exterior and connotes to the audience that he is a good character. We see this more obviously when we compare him to Jim's character.
Jim - Because he is Kim's boyfriend, the audience instantly thinks of him as a good character but not long into the film we see that his attitude is far more evil. Jim is loud mouthed, arrogant and violent. His vindictiveness and greed is shown when he tries to rob his parents unsuccessfully but leaves Edward trapped in the room. The Audience sympathises with Edward and the the contrast between the two characters is shown through the idea of binary opposites more so than the connotations of their appearances.
Another example of Strauss's theory in practice is the setting of the film. Peg finds Edward living alone in the old castle-like house of the late inventor. The castle is old-fashioned dark, dirty with broken windows and the roof is falling in. The black and derelict exterior with the gargoyles creates an eerie atmosphere and connotes danger. This contrasts immensely with where Kim and her family live and makes their small suburban community look even more appealing and nice. The houses there are almost all identical, with their clean cut shapes and brightly coloured exteriors. The perfectly symmetrical gardens and roads and matching, brightly coloured cars have a fantastical quality about them. The warm colours of this community differs so much to those of Edward's old home, supplying him with light and love and a family. However in the end it is those dark walls of the abandoned house is what comforted Edward the most, and it was those who lived in the brightly coloured community who posed the most danger to him. The difference between these two settings aid to the audiences understanding of how the how what appears to be good and evil at first glance, is not always the case.