People tend to have one of two types of relationships with Big Fish. You either do not understand him (this is not so much about the plot as about emotional, empathic understanding) and soon forget, or you are fascinated by him almost to the end of your life. Because this picture is from the category of those that, in principle, are not able to leave indifferent the viewer, who is determined to see not only with his eyes, but also with his soul.
Tim Burton took over the creation of Big Fish shortly after the death of his own father. He thought a lot about their relationship and was glad to have the opportunity to transfer these reflections to the cinematic plane. However, even a person who is superficially familiar with the work of this director will understand that he associates himself, first of all, with Edward Bloom, and not with his son Will.
Many call this picture partly autobiographical in relation to Burton himself: to a man who, like no one else, loves to combine reality and fiction, who often remains incomprehensible and who hates stereotypical thinking and banal perception of the world around him.
In the process of creating the picture, Tim Burton and Evan McGregor, who got the role of Edward Bloom, spent a lot of time creating that fine line between reality and fiction, which was to become a characteristic feature of all Bloom stories. It was not supposed to be fantasy, but not reality either. Moreover, it was supposed to shoot all the scenes of Edward’s memories in a completely realistic manner, but taking into account all the fantasies of the aged narrator and preserving the unique charm inherent in all Burton’s projects in principle.
Where did the Big Fish script come from?
The script for this film was written by John August, and the book that served as the basis for the script, in turn, was written by Daniel Wallace. Big Fish: A Novel of Mythological Proportions is the most famous work of this writer and artist. The script was written long enough before Tim Burton took on it, and it was originally assumed that Steven Spielberg would work with it. Interestingly, it was John August who also wrote for two other famous Burton projects – the film “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and the cartoon “Corpse Bride”.
The Benefits of Developed Fantasy
The slogan of this film is “An adventure as big as life itself”, which is usually translated into Russian as “Life-long adventure”. Actually, the picture opens us a look at what life can be, filled with something unusual, interesting, exciting, even if in reality it might seem relatively “normal”.
As the British writer William Somerset Maugham once noted: “Dreams are not a departure from reality, but a means of getting closer to it.” We all know perfectly well what the real world looks like, what laws it obeys, what requirements it makes to those who live in it, and so on. But, on the other hand, if you think about it carefully, then we know practically nothing about the state of affairs in the world. Why are we here, why are we exactly like that, how little is that we are able to feel, what is our place in the Universe – there are no answers to all these questions that could not be criticized.
As a result, each of us, in fact, lives in his own world. He looks at everything that happens through his unique filters, which can paint everything in bright colors or make it black and white, add interesting details to the picture or leave it unchanged.
The whole world in the head of one person
Edward Bloom is a man whose world is full of magic and optimism. Where others see darkness and despair, he will see a fabulous test for the hero, which he must pass with dignity. Where for someone there will be only ordinary people, for him there will be giants, werewolves and Siamese twins. In a city that most will not even look at, passing or driving by, Edward will see a real mini-kingdom with its own laws and regulations, with its own atmosphere and with its own fairy-tale stories.
Where someone else sees a beautiful girl, Bloom will notice a kind of princess, whose hands he will seek like a knight. In a situation where anyone else feels irrevocably rejected, Edward will say, “But the point is, I’ve always been a fool.” And he will make every effort, use the full breadth of his soul to be with his beloved.
And with all this, Edward Bloom will never cease to be a sane person for a second. He has everything in order with his psyche, he is absolutely adequate and reasonable. He just knows, he never forgets that we all choose ourselves in which world we live. And he chooses such a world: unusual, magical, unpredictable, a world where the sun is shining, and where it is always better to do something than stay on the sidelines.
Problems in the father-son relationship
With creative people with an unusual outlook, it is very interesting, but sometimes very difficult. Especially if you yourself prefer a much more traditional and conventional way of looking at things. And if Edward’s wife initially knew what was going on in the head of her chosen one, and was fascinated by him, then his son had no choice as such. Since childhood, he just had to listen to his father’s stories. Given his character, it is quite logical that over time Will began to doubt their veracity more and more, and then even suspected Bloom Sr. of cheating on his wife with Jenny, the character of Helena Bonham Carter, and God knows only than else.
This conflict is logical and inevitable, and it, as well as its resolution, play a key role in Big Fish. Both Tim Burton and Evan McGregor in most interviews call this picture precisely “a film about the relationship between father and son.”
Many have gone through problems in these relationships and will continue to do so. And not only in those families where the father is a tireless dreamer and the son is a realistic pragmatist. The clash of two different perceptions of the world, in principle, taking into account the authority of the parent and the growing desire for self-determination on the part of the child, always leads to some kind of misunderstanding. To innuendo, to hidden grievances. And the only question is how long it will last, and whether the participants in such a conflict will find the strength and wisdom to understand and forgive each other.
Death as appeasement
By and large, the ending of this film is very tragic: the main character, already dying of cancer, leaves for another world in a hospital after a stroke. But for some reason, at the end of watching “Big Fish”, he involuntarily pulls to smile. Perhaps through tears, but still smile. This contributes to a lot: the reconciliation of Will and Edward a few minutes before the death of the latter, a fictional story that Will tells his father, finally understanding how he sees the world, and even a funeral, which attracts all the heroes from the stories of Bloom Sr.
Edward’s death looks like a beautiful back cover of a book of fairy tales read cover to cover. It may have been read and closed, and there are no bookmarks left in it – but it is, and this is much more important than the fact that the process of reading it has already been completed. After all, somewhere on its pages magical creatures still live and yellow daffodils still bloom, somewhere there still exists true love to the grave and life, which looks like endless adventures.