Big Fish is a 2003 fantasy movie directed by Tim Burton, based on the novel “Big Fish: A novel of Mythic Proportions” by Daniel Wallace. The movie stars Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Jessica Lange, Danny DeVito, Helena Bonham Carter, Steve Buscemi, Billy Crudup, Alison Lohman, Hailey Anne Nelson, Robert Guillaume, Marion Cotillard. Having recently lost both his parents, Burton found the script to be a touching and relevant project to his state of mind at the time and noted that the story itself was the most unique he had read since his work on 1988’s Beetlejuice.
Many people have argued that Big Fish is one of Tim Burton’s best movies. There is a lot of free-wheeling fun but it also has the same emotional appeal as Edward Scissorhands. The crux of the movie is the relationship between a father and his son.
We first meet the main character, Edward Bloom (Albert Finney), as an old man enchanting everyone except his son, Will (Billy Crudup), with his outlandish stories. Then we go back in time and see Ed as a young man (Ewan McGregor) catching the uncatchable fish of the title. Then, as the storytelling begins in earnest, we see his memorable birth (literally popping out of his mother’s womb) and childhood. An early encounter with an old witch (Helena Bonham Carter) who can show people how they die in her glass eye is classic Burton – creepy and fun. The film cuts back and forth between Ed’s fanciful exaggerations and the naturalistic, real world scenes featuring the older, dying Bloom and his estranged son, but the contrast is never jarring. The characters the young Ed meets, from giants to bank robbing poets to circus folk to werewolves, are all fascinating creations.
“There’s a time when a man needs to fight, and a time when he needs to accept that his destiny is lost, the ship has sailed and only a fool would continue. Truth is I’ve always been a fool.” – Edward Bloom
10 Things you probably didn’t know about the movie Big Fish
- Ewan McGregor was cast as Young Ed Bloom when producers noticed the striking similarity between him and pictures of a young Albert Finney, who plays Senior Ed Bloom.
- The joke with the elephant defecating while Edward daydreams was unscripted. The filming crew found it hilarious, and quickly zoomed out to get the whole thing.
- When Norther Winslow shows his half finished poem to Edward, (Grass so green / Skies so blue / Spectre is really great!) the handwriting is director Tim Burton‘s.
- Even though Young Edward lands in Korea, the ventriloquist and his puppet speak in Tagalog (language of the Philippines) while the Siamese twins and Edward speak in Cantonese (a Chinese dialect). The soldiers who pull the ventriloquist off the stage speak Mandarin Chinese (language of mainland China and Taiwan) while the other soldiers speak in Korean.
- When young Edward Bloom is singing in the church and his voice breaks, that single note that we hear is actually Ewan McGregor.
- Steven Spielberg was attached to this project and wanted Jack Nicholson to star, but dropped out due to his full schedule, soon after which Tim Burton signed on.
- Helena Bonham Carterwas pregnant during filming.
- The image of a skull can be seen on one of the fishing lures as it turns. This can be seen in the beginning of the movie as Ewan McGregor, as narrator, talks about how some fish cannot be caught.
- Cameo – Daniel Wallace: The author of the original book appears as Sandra’s economics professor at Auburn.
- Director Cameo – Tim Burton: one of the clowns sitting close to Mr. Calloway’s trailer, who flees when the wolf jumps from it.
Watch the original trailer here: