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Film&Discussion – Big Fish

May 13, 2009
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Here’s what we talked about at Film&Discussion last Saturday – concerning the film Big Fish. Feel free to add your thoughts to ours on the film below.

Is Edward Bloom self-centered or unselfish?

During Film and Discussion, we spent a lot of time (if not most of our time) on this question. We ventured both possibilities, and here are some of the ideas shared (MINOR SPOILERS ahead):

Edward Bloom is self-centered

Throughout the movie, you learn the life of Edward Bloom, but only from his perspective–at least until Will goes to the town of Spectre and learns about his father from Jenny. As a result, Will doesn’t know his father outside of his father’s stories.

After the confrontation between Edward and Will at Will’s wedding, they go on living in silence for the next few years. When Will is about to have a baby, he fears he doesn’t know how to raise him because of the relationship he has with his father. Will shares his distress with his father, but even then, Edward never changes. He never explains his stories the way Will wants to hear them, because he (Edward) feels they’re true for the most part.

As thrilling as stories told by a father to a son could be, any son would want to know his father’s true self. Moreover, stories told with such imagination keep those around you at a good distance. To be remembered as a flawless, courageous, and ambitious man, while never showing a sign of weakness or vulnerability, makes you inhuman. That is to say, a father who portrays himself in a false manner can never really have a genuine relationship with his son.


Edward Bloom is unselfish

True, Edward Bloom enhances his stories with myth. But most of them are based on true events. Another concept to take in is Edward Bloom’s motive. For instance, Edward tells a story about how he started to go through puberty in a matter of seconds. His voice deepens and his body grows. The explanation that Edward shares is that his body couldn’t keep up with his ambition. What if Edward wants to teach his son to reach for the things that seem difficult or even impossible? Edward may want to teach Will not to be afraid of the unknown, but instead, dive straight into the center of it. Edward wants to be remembered through the stories he told, but maybe he wants to teach his son a sacred lesson of life that goes unrealized by many.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. timothyseaton permalink
    May 15, 2009 5:03 am

    I think you bring up a good point about Edward Bloom’s motive and how this could deal with his son’s relationship. If you think about how the son told the story of how Edward will die and how that is what Edward wanted, it only furthered the idea of Edward being unselfish.

    In my opinion, I think that Edward was more on the side of being over ambitious about being a myth or idea more so than doing things for the sake of himself. He represented a concept, and that would be the importance of story. That’s why he did everything he did, and died in that fashion as well.

    This really brings up question of whether needing to tell the truth for truth’s sake is more important than fashioning your life for a purpose higher than one’s real life.

    What are your thoughts???

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