Recently I was contacted by Ryan Stills of Invaluable.com, an auction site for anything from estate lots to fine art to fine wines. I poked about on the site and found some really neat stuff, I must say. They even have antique furniture! REAL antique furniture, from 17th-century England! POSH!
The company does auctions on movie props, and he asked me what props I might like to own to help get an idea what kinds of things movie fans might be interested in owning. The question really got me thinking. I don’t collect much stuff anymore, for the following reasons:
I am poor. If I get spare cash, I throw it toward my consumer debt or a meal out, since dining out is an experience and I am fed. Sometimes there’s leftovers! Two meals in one!
I don’t have many collectibles anymore. The simple reason is that I went the minimalist route. Somewhere after the 5th move, I realized I felt dreadfully ashamed for asking my friends to haul boxes of action figures up two flights of stairs in 90-degree Florida heat.
I realized after thinking it over that for me to get excited about a movie prop, it needs to be reeeaaallly special!
Here is a countdown of five movie props I would love to own. My Gollum-like need to collect stuff has long ebbed, EXCEPT in the case of these things… They are presented in order, ranked from ‘I would like to own this’ to ‘I would sell plasma to acquire this.’ I’m going to assume you are familiar with these films and the objects, and rather explain why I am willing to spend an hour with a large needle in my arm to own them. Here we go!
5. The Broken Hands – Edward Scissorhands (1991)
The Broken Hands appear in the key scene of Edward Scissorhands that explains Edward’s creation. The scene depicts the Inventor- Vincent Price in his last role ever- about to put the final, finishing ‘touch’ on his creation. I love Depp’s performance as the Inventor holds the hands up to him – Edward nuzzles them and kisses them, his eyes shining with delight – he will be whole, at last! The Inventor’s eyes shine as well… until they dim. The smile fades, and the Inventor dies. As he sinks to the floor Edward, attempting to reach for him, slices the hands apart and they fall to the floor in pieces. The last hope for Edward to be normal is gone – and he is left with not only a ghastly reminder of his own inhumanity, but a physical obstacle between himself and other people. People will never consider him normal. Even if they accept him, it is with the caveat that he is ‘different.’ Worst of all, he can never touch anyone.
Another interpretation – Although The Broken Hands set Edward apart from the rest of humanity, they caused him to become a sensitive, gentle creature as opposed to the shrill, judgmental suburbanites he encounters. No wonder he returns to his crumbling mansion!
4. The Key – The Secret Garden (1993)
Mary Lennox comes to Misselthwaite Manor a sour, wilted little slip of a girl. She discovers a house with as many mysteries as empty rooms, and upon exploring finds a literal key to one mystery- the key to a garden her aloof and depressed Uncle ordered locked up a decade before. Her fascination with solving the house’s mysteries allow Mary some time to heal from her own tragedies, and also to learn how to relate to other people. Finding the key begins this journey of self-discovery and gentleness, a crucial part of growing up that she had long lacked. Since the film is set in the Victorian era the key is a lovely, heavy thing of rusty iron. In the book it is literally buried and the Robin helps her find it, but in the movie she finds it in her aunt’s music box.
And speaking of music boxes…
3. The Music Box – Labyrinth
The Music Box kicks off one of the most crucial, beautiful scenes of Labyrinth – it’s our intro to the Masquerade in which Jareth pulls out the Big Guns of Charm to woo and distract Sarah from her quest. He does his best to give Sarah what he thinks she wants: the life of a Princess, of beautiful gowns, a castle, adoring fans, and anything she asks for– except her freedom. Despite all his tricks and magics, he can’t change his nature or hers – the castle is full of goblins and her adoring fans are strange and unsettling, playing pranks on her and frightening her. Jareth himself appears as a handsome prince and tries to act as such, but there is still something wrong – for one thing, he isn’t showing her real love, which is about respecting the other lover’s wishes. He is also joyless and remote as he swirls her around the dance floor. Surrounded by false adoration and false love, Sarah rebels and throws a chair through a mirror, bringing the party to ruin. As she is escaping through the dumping ground of childhood, one of the Junk Ladies tries to entice her back to inaction, handing her the Music Box and playing the hypnotic music again. For the second time, Sarah realizes she’s being duped and flings the Music Box through the mirror, returning to her quest. Eventually, Sarah sees the Labyrinth for what it is – a series of contrivances she didn’t realize she could refuse to take part in.
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with music boxes – they play pretty music and can be soothing, but they are associated with a level of femininity and delicacy with which I am unfamiliar. While listening to their music I feel less like a princess looking at a treasure than a gorilla staring at something I have found in the wreckage of a plane. The music still enchants me, but it’s like admiring the beauty of an alien world.
2. The AURYN – The NeverEnding Story (1984)
Symbol of Life, Death, and everything in between, the AURYN has long been a thing I’ve coveted. At the time it was a shiny, cool thing to own. Now, I realize what it and the film’s title were really about: Life… not just your own, but the legacy you leave for others. the AURYN is a stylish analogue of the Chinese Yin-yang. Atreyu goes through terrible hardships, pain, and danger in order to save his world, and Bastian experiences these along with him. This is the first time that shy, bookish Bastian really connects to someone else and appreciates the trials and travails of another person. His father is a single father and widower – he lost his wife, just as Bastian lost his mother, but the two are very distant. You would think such a thing would draw them closer, but it doesn’t– it’s probably because Bastian’s father sees so much of his lost wife in his son and being around him is painful. As a child I never thought about that, but as an adult writer who looks at character motivations for fun, it’s almost screamingly obvious to me now. It’s also intriguing because usually in call-to-action type stories, boys are given weapons or tools – the AURYN is neither. It is more like a badge or an insignia to let people know Atreyu is on the Childlike Empress’s business.
1. The Unicorn Horn – Legend
Ridley Scott’s most whimsical film is one of his most emotional. A stylish parable about love, relationships, good, and evil, it contains some of my favorite film moments ever: The Unicorns, the Waltz, anything Darkness is doing, and Jack whispering ‘I trust you, Lily’ before firing his arrow. The most important of its many themes is hope – not only the hope you hold onto when things beyond your control happen, but the hope that you can salvage your life after you’ve screwed it up. Lily makes a terrible mistake due to her vanity but begs forgiveness and resolves to try and make it right, being captured in the process. Jack also begs forgiveness of the remaining Unicorn and receives it, resolving to do his best to fix the situation. Even the horn itself, cut from the Unicorn’s head, is repaired and brings the animal back to life. Asking forgiveness (and meaning it) is only the beginning of healing – after that must come the real work of not just fixing the mistake, but forgiving oneself and learning from the experience. The horn is a tangible reminder of the saying where there is life, there’s hope.
FUN FACT: Years ago I got the Todd McFarlane ‘Darkness’ figure just because he came with the horn, but the horn was way too tiny. Seriously, I sneezed and blew it out of the figure’s hand one time.
I was not paid to write this article, but it seemed like an interesting exercise. It was both easy and challenging – easy because I knew just what I wanted, hard because I had to think about why.
I hope you enjoyed today’s post, and had as much fun reading it as I did reminiscing over these films and writing it! Have a great day!