Essay - Big Fish

Topics: Tim Burton, Big Fish, Helena Bonham Carter Pages: 5 (1895 words) Published: April 22, 2013
Big Fish
M Krause

Production: Columbia Pictures, 2003
Producer: Bruce Cohen/Dan Jinks
Director: Tim Burton
Screenplay: Daniel Wallace (novel), John August (screenplay) Cinematography: Philippe Rousselot
Editing: Chris Lebenzon
Music: Danny Elfman

Principal Characters:
Ewan McGregor Ed Bloom (Young)
Albert FinneyEd Bloom (Senior)
Billy CrudupWill Bloom
Jessica Lange Sandra Bloom (Senior)
Helena Bonham CarterJenny (Young)/Jenny (Senior)/The Witch Alison LohmanSandra Bloom (Young)
Robert GuillaumeDr. Bennett (Senior)
Marion CotillardJosephine Bloom
Matthew McGregoryKarl the Giant
David DenmanDon Price (Age 18-22)
Missi Pyle Mildred
Loudon Wainwright IIIBeaman
Typical of Tim Burton films, Big Fish is full of interesting elements of fantasy, exaggerated reality, and other time periods or worlds. Most interesting is how Tim Burton seems to always use such separate elements and weave them into films with great continuity, the same is true for Big Fish. Through creative use of narrative advancement, period costuming, and two complete casts of characters (one playing the younger versions and one playing the older versions of people) Burton is able to tell the story of Ed Bloom and his crazy life which is chock full of tall tales and interesting people he met along the way. While there was no shortage of bright colors and oddball characters typical of Burton-esque mise en scene (Danny Devito as a werewolf for example), there was more of a story to Big Fish than found in other films by this director. In an article from 2004 critiquing what was at the time the newest in the Tim Burton library of films, author Beth Deters stated “With Big Fish, curiously enough, the opposite holds true — story prevails over images. The narrative proves far richer than the visual style that depicts it.” (Beth Deters, Worldpress). Honestly, viewing the film twice might not be enough to understand every element and catch every thread of symbolism in this film, the good thing is that Big Fish is entertaining enough to watch multiple times, especially if you are a fan of Tim Burton. The screenplay is effective even with all of the jumping around from present day to the past and is only enhanced by spectacular editing and symbolism. Even with the fantasy elements and symbolism intertwined, the story has a great relaxed flow to it, one reviewer stated “Since this is a film about tall tales, the structure is quite different from Burton’s other work. You never know when or where the story is going to go next, which is part of the film’s charm.”(Arran McDermott, The main protagonist of the film is of course Edward Bloom. He is, in a way, constantly trying to entertain everyone around him with his tall tales and means no harm to anyone in doing so, however through his storytelling, he unintentionally drives a wedge between himself and his son. Edward is also by far the roundest character of the film. Even though his whole life, it seems Edward Bloom has done many acts of kindness for strangers and friends alike, his own son cannot appreciate him the way he should. Throughout this film, we see much character development for young and old Edward Bloom – from a young man who becomes the hero of his town to a family man and finally to his deathbed and beyond. We understand his view of the world through watching his struggles and experiences along the way. Edward Bloom literally is Big Fish. There is no real defined antagonist in Big Fish, however, society/expectations/external forces could all be antagonists in this film. For example, after Sandra and Edward finally get together as a couple, Edward is shipped off to the war and has to fight his way back to his love along with the help of two very colorful, Asian Siamese twins all the while Sandra thinking he is dead. He needs to overcome that obstacle to make it back to Sandra and continue...

Cited: Big Fish. Tim Burton. Columbia Pictures. 2003.
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