Stories are precious containers of spirit. They give our lives meaning. They allow us to reconstruct the past, to invoke that which has grown distant, and to open up to the great mysteries. They are good medicine in times of trouble and hopelessness.
One of the best storytellers in modern cinema is Tim Burton , known for his strange and imaginative films, which is driven by tall-tale stories and uncomfortably eccentric characters. This successful formula remains largely unchanged with "Big Fish," only this time around Burton offers us a much more optimistic tale of one man's ambitious adventures and travels in a world that's just not big enough for him. Based on the little known novel by Daniel Wallace, the movie charts a son's attempts to reconcile with his dying father.
PlotThe main character, Edward Bloom, played in old age by Albert Finney and by Ewan McGregor as a young man, treats anyone who'll listen with outlandish tales of his life. His outlandish stories about his past amuse everyone except neglected journalist son Will(Billy Crudup). Believing the tales he heard as a child to be no more than fantastical lies, Will sets out to prove that his father's life is simply a work of fiction, with Ed's storytelling serving as the narration throughout.
Large chunks of Big Fish involves Edward's most impressive stories: how, as a boy, he had the courage to approach a witch and ask to see his future; how, as a young man, he discovered the secret town of Spectre, and later met the love of his life, Sandy (Alison Lohman), at a circus. While most of his magical stories seem to be wholly impractical including the account of the fish that stole his wedding ring, which serves as the inspiration for the film's title, audience will be fascinated when they discover there is more truth behind Ed's outrageous tales than his son believes.
AnalysisOne of Big Fish's nice touches is to have the actors who play the younger versions of the characters resemble those who play the older ones. McGregor and Albert Finney are wonderful as the young and older Ed Bloom, both displaying his eccentric delight for life to perfection yet still portraying the exceptional man very distinctively in two different stages of his life. In a largely reactive role, Lohman has some sweet moments, while Bonham Carter does very well with her long confessional scene as a lonely older woman.
There’s a certain maturity not quite common in Burton’s works. Unlike in many of Burton's previous movies, there is no cynicism here, and hardly any darkness., but the film retains the director's trademark quirkiness. And, although there is a bittersweet quality to the ending, it is ultimately uplifting and optimistic. Burton and screenwriter John August ensure the story's universal appeal. John August provides us with a laugh-out-loud hilarious script.
It is a natural tendency to compare McGregor-Finney's Edward Bloom character to Forrest Gump, but Gump was a passive individual, one who had great historical events thrust upon him. Bloom is the kind of guy who creates his own history. Big Fish is a feel good movie without being overly sentimental; romantic without being overly sweet.
Big Fish is a tall tale that speaks to our universal desire to live life not necessarily to its fullest, but with wonderment of our very existence. It's a simple but profound truth. Big Fish is love and death. Big Fish is a clever, smart fantasy film that targets the child inside every adult, without insulting the intelligence.
Big Fish - Imdb