John Ford once said, "If you have to choose between the fact or the legend, choose the legend", and our hero of the tale, Edward Bloom, seemingly prefers legend over his own life. Perhaps it's to cover his own boring, uneventful, or miserable existence, perhaps it's to continue invoking imagination like a child until he dies, or maybe... it all really happened. Who knows, really? And I say, "Who Cares?" Because, Big Fish succeeds in one truly grand thing, it stirs the imagination rather well in the Capra-esque sense, something I take great joy in, not only as a person who loves to have his imagination stimulated, but also as a storyteller and aspiring writer. I take pride in attempting to tell good stories, and "Big Fish" is a damn good story of epic proportions.
Can Tim Burton tell a story? It's been seen in films like the excellent "Sleepy Hollow", "Edward Scissorhands", and, my personal favorites, "Ed Wood" and "The Nightmare Before Christmas", and Burton's directing is great as usual with this off-routine light fantasy focuses more on the grand imagination of its central character instead of its director. We witness our hero go through lands like a paradise which the weather is always perfect, we watch him do battle with a catfish as big as a shark, and battle a giant in a cave, but what is true in his life story?
I'll admit I deemed this as a "Forrest Gump" rip-off from the trailer, but I was pleasantly surprised by this tale of tall tales translated through such a grim story such as a father's inability to communicate with his son, an amazing and beautiful film with Burton's usual oddities and weird characters followed by his masterful use of odd special effects glossed over by a dreamy hazey point of view within the fantasies and tall tales of life and love. Though, the subject matter is a bit stern and saddening, you inevitably watch the film and think, "Who cares if the stories are true or not?"
They're meant to stir imagination with its wide eyed exuberance, it's about reaching into your inner-child and just throwing caution to the wind with flights of fancy such as Bloom's stint at a big top carnival, his battle with a werewolf, landing in the middle of Vietnam as a paratrooper during a concert, coming across a mermaid, Siamese twins, a giant, being caught in the middle of a bank robbery, and courting the beautiful young Sandra with a field of daffodils and then there are some stunning sequences here including the scene where time stops, the brilliant Salvador Dali-esque scene where Ed is caught underwater in his car.
You eventually learn that the title is a metaphor of many incredible dimensions. It's a metaphor for life and how you can be a little fish in a big pond and be insignificant, a big fish in a little pond and never know your way, or you can be a little fish and grow within the pond and conquer life, it's a metaphor for the goals in life, the ones you get, the ones impossible to get, and the ones you never get, it's the dream, the goal, the life, and the love. Of course there's the great cast that makes the movie including Billy Crudup, Ewan McGregor whoís charming in this role, Finney who is very nice as the older Bloom, Steve Buscemi as the poet is hilarious with his bad poetry that people adore, and his deadpan reaction and proud face to his poetry is funny.
And there's of course the beautiful Allison Lohman who just literally glows on the screen with her beauty, all give just great performances one after the other. Ultimately, the film invoked a tear from me, because it invoked my imagination, and thatís something I encourage. Storytelling, love, life, itís all here to enjoy and Burton accomplished what he sets out to do in the long run, he stimulates our mind with his imagination, and in turn sets our imaginations loose as well, and thatís something to be revered.
We're supposed to believe the old Ed and the young Ed are one in the
same person, but the writers make it difficult when they seem to be
different people in the end. Older Ed, for a man with such great
stories, comes off at the beginning of the film as more of a
self-centered and pompous blowhard rather than an simple man who loves
to tell stories and just wants to tell fairytales. He even interrupts
his own son's wedding to tell a story which even he should know is very
rude and self-centered. Nonetheless the transition is flawed in that we
never believe that they're one in the same person, and the older Ed also
seems to be more simple-minded in his old years in which younger Ed just
wasn't. For a man whose also
Despite the fact the story never knows where it's going or what it's trying to say, this is a wonderful piece of film with excellent performances, beautiful special effects, and a wonderful story that makes it what it is, Burton invokes the imagination from his crowd and succeeds in making us gasp in wonder.