Now, instead of a review, I’m going to tell you a little story. A story about storytelling and how it affects people, a story about family, a story about love, a story about being larger than life and a story about a movie – and they are all the same story. Stories are good like that.
You see, there was once a man by the name of Tim – perhaps you have heard of him? Tim Burton. Made a bit of a reputation as a film director of sorts and he’s been at it for near 30 years now and he’s told tales of all manner of things, from people losing bikes, to costumed crimefighters, to undead clowns, to a place where the whole planet was covered in intelligent monkeys, to invasions from outer space. And they were all fine little tales. And he, as storytellers often do, started to work more and more with his own style, a style that some would call “Goth”. It got to the point, and a lot of it came at his own hand, mind you, that many people started to think that this is all he could do. But, what those people forgot was that the man was a very good storyteller as well. Not just of his own tales either, but he’d often take the tales of others and put his own spin on things (sometimes, too, he’d let others take a go of telling his stories – such is the way of a good storyteller, not being afraid to let someone else travel down his path). And what I’m going to tell you about today is one such adventure.
Going on, oh, ten years ago now, it seems that Young Tim happened upon a book, written by a man named Daniel Wallace, a book named Big Fish. And he thought to himself that he’d be the perfect soul to bring this story to the silver screen. And, well, in my opinion, he was, given the bigness of the story. You see, for a big story to be given the fullness it deserves, especially if it’s telling all manner of stories within itself, it needs to be told by someone who has the ability to see big. And, while the story itself may just be about a man and his son and his family; the tales he tells are themselves big – some may even say tall. And a few years after that, Tim got the chance to be that very storyteller.
Now that I’ve told you a little bit about the man, I should tell you a little bit about the story itself. So, the story is primarily about a man by the name of Edward Bloom, who, as often happens in stories, has a family. He’s got a wife who loves him, and a son who doesn’t...not really (sons and fathers, you know how they are like), and who can blame him, because Edward, when junior was being born, was out catching fish. Poor Edward is dying, as often happens, so Sandra (as Mrs Bloom was christened) asks her son to come pay a visit, and so he does. Then Edward dies, but I’m really getting ahead of myself here. It seems that Edward has always had himself a bit of a reputation as a storyteller, usually telling tales that are pretty big, much to the annoyance of Wil. It could be that Wil has heard all these tales again and again, that he can tell what’s coming and where. Or maybe he’s just not been willing to listen to the tales, instead focusing on the teller rather than the tale.
Anyway, Wil has himself a wife who comes with him back home from the wilds of Europe, and she’s never heard any of these tales before, which allows her to have fresh ears. Which, as you know, is the best way to hear a story – fresh ears make everything new, and if you are a good storyteller, you can actually GIVE people fresh ears, no matter how many times you have told them something. So, yeah, Wil’s wife Josephine, she sits down with Edward and gets to hear all these tales for the first time. Well, I guess she doesn’t have totally fresh ears, having heard the tale about the fish, and about Edward meeting a witch as a little boy, but for the most part it’s all new to her.
He starts, as stories often do, somewhere around the middle; talking about how he, much like his (and all) stories, were getting bigger. So much so, that the boy had to spend 3 years in bed – can you imagine it, being stuck in bed for 3 years? Hell, I can’t imagine what else you could do, but read and make up some stories of my own. Don’t worry though, Young Edward soon gets out of bed and goes back to living in town. But, you see, things ain’t right around town, because it’s gone and got itself infested with a giant. So, Edward does what anyone else would do – he talks to that giant, becomes his friend and together they head out into the world to make their fame and fortune. But before they get a chance to, Edward gets himself stuck in a town that seems way too good to be true; heck, it looked like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, why it even has its very own Poet Laurite. But, well, you know what they say about looking gift horses in the mouth – this place, for all its good looks, puts young Edward on edge and he has to get himself out of there. But not before meeting one of the great characters in his life, Miss Jenny Hill. So, anyway, he gets himself out of there, and meets back up with his giant friend, Karl. And they go to find that fame and fortune I was telling you about, at the circus.
Now, the good thing about a story is, you can have it take place just about anywhere your heart desires, and if you are good enough at telling that story, painting the picture – then you can make the seemingly dullest, smallest, rinky-dinkest regional circus seem like a three ring Barnum and Bailey super spectacular and you can turn a tiny, hairy, angry man into a werewolf. I mean, if you wanted – and, if you are spinning amazing tales, I don’t know why you wouldn’t. Now, while Edward and Karl are busy finding out that the circus isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be, pretty though it may be, THE great love of Edward’s come into his life (I told you that this was going to be a story about love – and all great stories have love in them. It’s one of the basic factors of human existence, so you can’t tell a good story without it) and Edward learns that you gotta work to meet your destiny. And boy does he ever.
Edward, never being one to let life get in the way of a good story, manages to make a good story of his life. He parachutes into Asia, gets involved in bank robberies, woos that love I just told you about with a million daffodils, and makes it all exciting and interesting – that’s how you know you got a great storyteller, and that’s how I know I am nowhere near the league of a great storyteller, because I can’t even begin to give this true justice. But our man Tim could, and boy did he ever make it all look lovely – why, he even managed to make being a travelling salesman look like it could be full of fun and adventure.
And, it’s right about here that Wil finally sees Edward for the true storyteller that he is. And that is a good thing, because if you want to let someone in, you gotta accept them for all that they are. Now, when you accept someone, you sometimes feel the need to fix some things for them –things that they couldn’t (we are all human, no matter what, and we can’t do it all so we gotta let others help us). But sometimes, no matter what we do, there are some things that none of us can fix up, so we all have to just do the best we can. And for Wil, and Edward, it’s Edward’s body that’s gone and given up. But, you know, his stories wouldn’t, because Wil realises that the one thing he really took from his father was the love of storytelling, and is every bit the artist his father was. And the best part is, even in death, Edward’s stories all had base in truth – as the best stories always do.
So, that’s the story of stories. And, like I said, to tell a story about stories, you need someone who is great at telling stories. And like I said, Tim Burton is great at telling stories, and he told it really, really well.