"Big Fish"------reality versus fantasy

Essay by w_f_stella April 2004

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"Big Fish"------reality versus fantasy

Which is better to believe in? Fantasy or reality? Actually they are not a pair of binary oppositions, instead they coexist. Let us try to look for the answer based on the recent movie: Big Fish as a text to thought about this question more thoroughly.

First, let me clarify what does fantasy and reality mean for the general public. Fantasy is circumscribed by imagination and is "inner" to us. On the other hand, reality is fact and is "outer" to us. In the individual level, both of them are perceptions and ideologies to us. Many people tend to equalize fantasy as useless and have no practical use in our daily life. They only believed in science, anything beyond the law of nature is believed to be untrue. In fact, what is true? It varies upon individual's own interpretation and belief. A child will easily believe that Harry Potter do exist, but a normal adult probably won't.

It is clear that film itself is a fantasy. The perception of the audience on the ideas delivered by the film also varies. Here I want to focus on the reality and fantasy illustrated in this film. Big fish is a film directed by Tim Burton based on a novel written by Daniel Wallace. It is about a story between a father (Edward) and a son (William). Their distinct views towards fantasy. It actually is a story of how William searches for reality but finally chosen to follow his father's road. The big fish is a sign and it gives two signifier, which signifies both the life of people in general and for Edward. And just like what the little girl Jenny said after Edward saw the mermaid: Fish looks diff'rent to diff'rent people. Everyone has their own way...