Many of the legends and heroes that are found in American folk-lore have often been passed down through tall tales. People love to hear about the magnificent journeys of Johnny Appleseed and the gigantic feats of Paul Bunyan.These stories have entertained generations of Americans while giving us a sense that there have been heroes that lived extraordinary lives. These heroes always found a way to triumph in their own adventures while bettering the lives of everyone around them.
Tim Burton’s latest release, “Big Fish,” captures every aspect of this romantic American hero while at the same time relating a struggle between father and son.
Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) has always had a knack for sharing the stories and adventures of his youth with anyone who will listen. In particular, he narrates these tales to his son Will (Billy Crudup) as the boy grows up. As a child, Will loved to listen to them, as any son loves to hear fairy-tales from his father. His father’s younger self (Ewan McGregor) had traveled far and wide while accomplishing more than any man could ever dream of. He managed to befriend a giant named Karl (Matthew McGrory, a native of West Chester), learn of his death from a prophetic witch, rescue Siamese twins during the war and so much more.
Will grew up, and he began to want to know his father by more then just these tall tales that he had heard. Whenever he asked for the truth from his dad the only thing that he heard back was the same stories that his father stubbornly proclaimed to be true. It frustrated him so much that he rarely spoke with his dad anymore.
The years went by and finally Will received a call from his mother that his father was sick and had little time before he passed away. Will knew that this was his last chance to speak with his dad. As he visits and tries to uncover the real life of his father, Will begins to understand that maybe there is not so much fiction in his dad’s life after all.
Nobody but Tim Burton could have directed this flick in such a visually dazzling way as he did. Every flashback scene of Edward Bloom’s youth was filled with exaggerated colors and scenery that portrayed the perfect picture of what a tall tale would look like on screen. Although the characters did not have much time to develop due to the jumpy nature of the scenes and settings, it mattered very little.
Besides Burton having the perfect kind of abstract mind for “Big Fish,” the characters were cast flawlessly. Using such fascinating actors as Steve Buscemi, Danny DeVito and Matthew McGrory for supporting roles in young Edward Bloom’s life gave the movie a very colorful feel. Danny Elfman’s mysterious musical style made for a wonderful background score as well.
The only way to sum up “Big Fish” is by dubbing it an American fairy-tale. Through adventure, romance and heroic acts, it shows what so many wish to have in their own lives. All who enjoy legend and lore as a break from the realities of life will undoubtedly want to head out to see “Big Fish” for themselves.