Appearance vs Reality in Big Fish
February 19, 2019 at 9:51 pm #1312Meghan CoboParticipant
Throughout Big Fish, there are many instances where things are not always as they appear. Edward Bloom experiences the differences between appearance and reality during his adventurous life. The very first time he comes face to face with appearance is when he encounters the witch. The flashbacks that involve her are very dark and eerie, creating this automatic assumption that she is evil and bad. Edward was brave and dismissed the rumors he’d heard about her. He realized that appearances don’t always define something or someone. Along with the witch’s appearance, he also was the only one who saw the witch’s eye for what it really was. For him, the eye was nothing to fear, but something that gave him the opportunity to be fearless and live his life to the fullest.
Edward also represents his courage by his choice of path when he and Karl the giant head out on their adventure to a new city. There are two roads that could lead them out of town. One appears new, clean, bright, and safe. While the other looks over grown, dark, and unknown. Ed tells the audience that the new road has been paved to replace the old dirt road that leads through the forest. The old road has multiple “Do Not Enter” signs, but this does not seem to bother Ed at all. He says that the road is known to be haunted, but all he cares about is that he is leaving his home town and that this is his last and only chance to venture on this path. The stories, rumors, and looks of the road literally do not faze him or scare him away. Here, he again does not allow the appearance of something to change his views.
Another instance of appearance versus reality is when Edward is telling the part of his story where he went to find the man he worked for, Amos Calloway, in his trailer. He decided to add to the story saying that Amos came out of the trailer as a werewolf. Clearly, Amos is not actually a werewolf, but he chose to include that to emphasize how appearances can be misleading. Even though Amos was not a terrible person, his personality was a bit deceiving, since he was just using Edward for free labor. The use of the werewolf was to represent Amos as harsh and vicious on the outside, but actually ended up being compassionate and kind-hearted on the inside. This is showing that appearances do not always represent how a person actually is.
The events that occur in this film that have false appearances are what helped William Bloom, Edward’s son, come to a realization. When Will began to get older, he started to disapprove of his father’s stories. Will believed only in facts and the truth. His father’s stories became too much for him to handle, which lead to their relationship failing and to them not speaking for 3 years. Will’s father began to appear to him as a liar. By the end of the movie, Will realizes that there was more truth to his father’s tales than he thought. Because of his own beliefs in the truth, he was blinded by what his father had appeared to be. It is only when he passes, that he truly understands him. He then decides to embrace the stories his father told and says that, “A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him. And in that way, he becomes immortal”. Will passes the tales down to his child, as we see in one of the last shots of the film. I think this helped Will realize that things aren’t always as they seem and that he created his own false reality of his father’s life.
Overall, this film had many differences between appearance and reality. Edward’s beliefs and bravery helped him differentiate the two and lead him into the life he lived.
~Meghan CoboFebruary 25, 2019 at 12:30 pm #1313Kelsey KwandransParticipant
I agree with your comment that it takes the “story” version of Edward’s death for Will to see the use of stories. Edward was sometimes using stories to make reality seem more appealing than it actually was, to hide sad or disappointing truths with something more fantastic. For instance, the doctor tells William the truth about why his father missed his birth. It was not anything as exciting as trying to catch a huge fish with a golden ring, but rather because his father was away for work and Will was born early. I could be wrong, but I think even after the doctor says he prefers Ed’s version of the story, Will holds that perhaps he would have liked to know the truth. I don’t think Will is completely in the wrong for feeling lied to, or that living in fiction is irresponsible, because some of the stories were pretty far-fetched and it is hard to believe someone when everything you know says that they are wrong. Yet Will still comes to see the use of storytelling as a tool for making reality a bit better when his father asks him how he dies. This time, it is up to Will to take everything he has learned from his father to create a less painful, more magical passing for his father filled with the fun friends and loving family he has collected over the years. He is returning the favor of adding wonder to the world, like his father did for him when Will was growing up. Here, we see that sometimes it is comforting to live in our stories, and even the most realistic people can believe them as the truth, actively creating the world they choose to live in.February 25, 2019 at 1:31 pm #1314Jonathan KalmanParticipant
Firstly, I want to say that you present a great description for the story as a whole, primarily on your analysis of the “stories” element of the film in that it was used to “make reality a bit better”. I would like to ask however, when you say, “By the end of the movie, Will realizes that there was more truth to his father’s tales than he thought. Because of his own beliefs in the truth, he was blinded by what his father had appeared to be”, do you believe that the son is wrong for having misjudging his father, or simply for the way he handles his father (Ex: treating him like a lying old man)? Personally, I believe that there is a time in everyone’s life when telling your kids fantastical stories in place of reality becomes somewhat inappropriate. I’m not saying that it is inappropriate to stop telling your kids stories; however, maybe using them to retell the past can be seen as a breach in trust and/or respect as the father is unable to admit that his kid is old enough to hear the cold, hard truth.February 25, 2019 at 4:14 pm #1315Raina Schoen ThomasParticipant
<p class=”p1″>I’m a bit conflicted about the father’s choice to add fantastical elements to the stories of his past. In one sense, he is still teaching his son important lessons about life and character. Despite the exaggerations, in essence, the stories still serve their mechanical purpose: to pass on the valuable insights gained from experience to his son. Whether these teachings are represented through realism or fairytale they should theoretically do the job. His son, however, developed a different mind, and the lack of plausibility of his fathers stories caused him to reject them and their lessons in full for a good portion of his adult life. Perhaps the father could have taken his son’s feelings into account and met him half way, rather than continuing to tell his tales in the same way he always did in a somewhat stubborn manner. Maybe then the ultimate reconciliation between father and son could have happened a lot sooner.</p>
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