Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Big Fish (2003)
As I'm rereading "Water for Elephants", I keep imagining a circus that I pieced together in my mind from what I've seen on the television. I've never been to the circus (or at least that I can remember), only to fairs and zoos. The only stable and reliable model I have for a circus is the one that Tim Burton produced in "Big Fish". Pretty much, I just wish this how all circus really were. Magical and homey.
"Big Fish" is a mature and fantastical Tim Burton Burton movie. Which is odd compared to his dark and brooding stories. This is the one movie that Burton did that really focused on relationships. He explored love and friendship but mostly focused on therelationship between a father and son. I have this feeling that this is a favorite exploration with Burton. The added story sequence of Willy Wonka's dentist father comes immediately to mind.
In the movie, Will Bloom's father, Ed, is dying. Will isn't really close to his father since Ed loves to tell tall tales about his life. Tales like when he was fishing in a lake, a large fish the size of a dog swallowed his wedding ring. So Ed wrestled that fish until he got it back. Or the one where during his army days, he took on dangerous missions in order to get back to wife. So he took the one where he parachuted into enemy territory and met the singing joined siamese twins. Will grew up with these stories and came to distrust his fathers repetitive stories. Everyone else enjoys the stories despite its' silliness which frustrates Will and widens the chasm between him and his father.
As his fathers retells his story from his deathbed, Will reluctantly relives the stories again.
As the stories are narrated, Ewan McGregor (sigh) plays the young Ed Bloom as he journeys from his small hometown and ends up at a local circus group. There he meets the love of his life who abruptly disappears. Bloom then takes on various jobs at the circus in order to earn the name of the love.
That is barely the first part of the movie. Actually it's only a smidgen of the story. Your taken into Eds stories as he progresses through his life. You know that theses stories can't possibly be true but you don't really care. The stories are beautiful and magical.
There's also that wonderful saying: Every story has a grain of truth. At the end of the movie, your not too sure how true the stories are but you sense there was some truth in it. Will senses it and a new image of his father emerges.
There is a definite Burton trademark throughout the movie. The best way I can describe a Burton film is that it's a dark and almost child-like wonder vision. Just watch a Burton movie and you'll see the shared trend through it all.
This one is a hard movie to recommend. If your the kind of audience that enjoys dark and beautiful background with story that is comedic and dramatic, this may work. There is no song and dance number. Lots of beautiful scenes. Plus, Ewan Mcgregor.
Ultimately, I feel that this movie echoes what every parent wants to leave behind for their children. Not some drab image of them taking care of them but the sensational and amazing road that it took to get there.