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 The Big Fish
 Critic's Rating
   [A-]
 Date Posted
   22nd March, 2004
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Cast: Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup
Director: Tim Burton

One of the most fascinating aspects of art is its co-existence amongst the aesthetes and the philistines. Both stand firm in the belief that theirs it the true channel to aesthetic pleasure. That being said, it's never easy creating a piece of work that single-handedly furnishes their seemingly contradictory raison d'etre. Never easy except if you happen to be Tim Burton. Perhaps the greatest accolade an artist could receive is being told that his work could only ever have originated from him. Burton gets plenty of that and it's as much an appreciation of his matchlessness as it is an admiration of his vision. And nothing about his latest effort Big Fish would make me think otherwise.

Big Fish is a story which in turn relates to us the stories of Edward Bloom (Albert Finney). He loves talking about what seem like fairy-tale versions of his early life. These go down well with everyone except his son Will (ably played by Billy Crudup) which finally ends with their relationship reaching an impasse. Will finally returns home after years when being informed by his mother Sandra (Jessica Lange) that Edward is living the last days of his life. It is then that Will decides to find out who his father really was and looks hard beyond the encounters with witches, giants, werewolves and war-time Koreans. All these accompanied by some good performances led by an ever so delightful Ewan McGregor (who would have done Cary Grant proud).

Quite unsurprisingly, Big Fish has Burton's essence stamped all over it. Right from the trademark tracking camera at the beginning to the surrealistically beautiful finale it could only have been envisaged by him alone. Along with the help of the brilliant Phillipe Rousselot (Cinematography) and screenwriter John August, he brings to the life the novel of Daniel Wallace with such glorious aplomb. Be it the highly sophisticated set design or the gloriously shot sequences, Big Fish lives up to every expectation one could have of Hollywood's modern visionary.

But there's more to it. Big Fish is not all fancy sets and visual delight. The beauty that eventually emanates out of the film is its underlying parallelism with its maker. The parallelism that exists between the imagination of Edward Bloom and that of Tim Burton. With a very personal touch added to it, Big Fish feels more than just a movie full of tall-tales. It is in this that we find a serene combination of the form and the content along with an unusual harmony of the aesthetes and philistines.

What about recreating the magic of the Chocolate Factory? Leave that to Mr. Burton. - Snider Rodrigues

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