"My whole life is a dark room": Nostalgia and domesticity in Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands
As a child growing up in Burbank, California, Tim Burton was a self-confessed outsider. 1 His retreat to a world of his own creation was a way of escaping the vast suburban sprawl in which he felt trapped. Flash forward to the present, and the themes of nostalgia, belonging, and the sinister nature of the suburbs are prevalent throughout his body of work. Indeed, despite his claim to be "against society," one could declare the overarching motivation of Burton's characters as "longing to belong." This chapter looks back at two of his most acclaimed films, Beetlejuice (1988) and Edward Scissorhands (1990), and examines their continuing appeal and dark undercurrent, framed by a nostalgia that pervades their design and narrative. By exploring both Burton's nostalgia and that of his characters, this chapter will ultimately consider how both Betelgeuse and Edward come to embody the role of the sympathetic monster, who ruptures and exposes the sinister nature of the domestic.