Monstrosity and the Not-Yet: Edward Scissorhands via Ernst Bloch and Georg Simmel

Craig Hammond


This article explores and discusses Tim Burton's film Edward Scissorhands by applying a Georg Simmel/Ernst Bloch (Simmelean/Blochian) analysis. Aside from each of the philosophical approaches serving as insightful analyses of the symbolism and narrative of the film, it is also theoretically useful to compare and unpack the similarities and differences in aspects of both Simmel's and Bloch's philosophical ideas and metaphors, influenced by their collaboratory experiences; Bloch became associated with Georg Simmel in 1908. The association and friendship with Simmel lasted until 1911; at this time Bloch became increasingly disillusioned with Simmel's apparent inability to commit to any particular philosophical position. Correspondence finally drew to a close when Simmel openly supported the war policy of Imperial Germany in 1914. The influences of many of Simmel's ideas in relation to the development of Bloch's philosophy are implicitly noticeable in the cross-referencing of similar ideas, metaphors and themes. This article will suggest and tentatively work through aspects of some similarities and differences. The aim of this comparison and contrast of Simmel in relation to Bloch via Edward Scissorhands, will also serve to highlight Bloch's philosophical departure from Simmel's fragments. By exploring and discussing Simmel's essays 'The Aesthetic Significance of the Face', 'The Ruin' and 'The Stranger,' in the context of Edward Scissorhands, I will suggest that the film can be seen as a particularly poignant and effective cultural metaphor of not only the problematic nature of human ideals, but also urban ennui and disconnectedness. By comparison, the Blochian treatment of Edward Scissorhands will emphasise the Gothic, the radical stridency of Youth, and, potential utopian possibilities that are, so far, 'Not-Yet'. These frameworks will suggest that Edward Scissorhands be understood as a beautiful-monster, a cultural refraction of the utopian incognito of Not-Yet articulated future possibilities.


Tim Burton; Georg Simmel; Ernst Bloch; Monster; Utopia

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