Film + Book Comparison: "Holes" and "Big Fish"

Essay by jessiminicaA+, March 2007

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Sachar’s 1998 quirky novel "Holes" and Burton’s equally esoteric feature film "Big Fish" (2003) develop interesting, likeable family characters. Although Stanley Yelnats and Edward Bloom are very different creations, their development involves some similarities. Both composers have used accumulation and non-linear plots to help breathe life into these characters.

Louis Sachar has used much accumulation to build up mental images of his character, Stanley Yelnats. Very little is said about his physical appearance, or indeed his personality early in the book. The only thing that is mentioned is that he overweight. This is emphasised with phrases like “... Stanley’s soft, fleshy hands” . This and others like it emphasise the image we have of him in our minds.

Because "Big Fish" is a film, all the visual elements are already there, but Edward Bloom’s personality does not appear as instantaneously as his features. At first he seems no more than a teller of tall tales who tries to pass his stories off as truth.

But as the movie progresses, we see that not all of it is false – indeed, his stories are more truthful than they first appear. His story about the Asian singers who have one pair of legs but then split apart at the hips to have two torsos, heads, and pairs of arms, and what happened, is basically true, apart from the fact that they are two separate people.

"holes" jumps back and forth from past to present very frequently, working with three plotlines. In the present is Stanley Yelnats IV, working the days away at Camp Green Lake, and the events leading up to his being sent there. The second is the story of how Stanley Yelnats I, Stanley IV’s great-great-grandfather , came to have a curse placed upon himself and all his...