This one is a tearjerker. On the surface, Big Fish doesn't seem like your average Tim Burton movie. However, you can certainly see Burton's usual elements within the colorful confines of this bright film. A dying Edward Bloom, played by Albert Finney, calls on his son, Will, played by Billy Crudup, to reminisce on Edward's life story. Throughout the entire film, we meet fun and interesting characters along the way that lead up to where Edward is now.
These stories are shown with a young Edward Bloom, played by the wonderful Ewan McGregor, and feature the kindhearted Edward's adventures of going from a small town that he's too big for, to bigger and better things. Early on in the film, an even younger Edward goes to see a witch who's eye can show those who look into it their death. This influences many of Edward's questionable actions throughout the film, as he knows how he truly dies. This was a great plot point that I think should've been elaborated on more.
Edward has this aura about him that just screams charming, which is a great fit for Ewan McGregor as an actor. One of my favorite character's, Karl the Giant, was seen to the townsfolk as a monster and Edward embraces this to make friends with him and takes him on his journeys. There's a certain humanness that these characters have and it makes it all the more wonderful to watch the magical tales unfold. Although I think some characters deserved a little more screen time, like Danny Devito's P.T. Barnum type character, Amos Calloway.
While viewing this for the first time, I couldn't help but relate to some of the characters and their actions throughout the film. Later on in the film, Edward sees a girl who he says will be his wife at the circus. Amos knows the girl's family and offers to tell Edward one thing about her for every month Edward works at the circus. This is where the film's storytelling elements shine. Seeing Edward's desperation to find the girl of his dreams is both beautiful and hilarious.
He gets the girl and marries her, sharing the rest of his life with her. The recurring uncatchable fish is another plot point I absolutely loved. This fish represents what we all want and look for in life. Something bigger than us. Something to hang on to even. At the end of the film, Edward, now on his death bed, asks his son to tell him the story of how Edward dies. It all boils down to Will carrying his father to the river where the titular fish calls home and Edward becoming the fish that plagued him so many times, while surrounded by his past friends and family. This is later contrasted with his actual funeral in which friends from his past return to say goodbye to their old friend.
This is a must watch for any writer in my opinion. It is a man's life story told in tall tales because to him, they are more than just boring stories. These stories highlight the good, the bad, and the magical of Edward's past. Big Fish is a modern masterpiece of storytelling and execution. This is definitely my favorite Tim Burton film, without a doubt. I highly recommend buying it to own and watch a hundred times over.