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Big Fish Symbols

A visual "essay" about the symbols found in Tim Burton's movie, Big Fish. Enjoy!
by

Nathan Graham

on 29 November 2010

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Transcript of Big Fish Symbols

No, this is not a movie specifically about a big fish. There are other movies about that… And no this is not a fishing documentary
about that know it all fishing guy who
ended up with a big catch. • Big Fish is about the stories the main character Edward Bloom tells his son, Willie and many others. Everyone greatly enjoys Edward’s tales, however as Willie grows into adulthood he begins to consider them fairy tales. Willie eventually insists that they’re all fantasy and he orders his father be more “realistic” with him. No, this is not a movie specifically about a big fish. There are other movies about that… Big Fish is about the stories the main character Edward Bloom tells his son, Willie and many others. Everyone greatly enjoys Edward’s tales, however as Willie grows into adulthood he begins to consider them fairy tales. Willie eventually insists that they’re all fantasy and orders his father be more “realistic” with him. However, as the movie progresses Willie begins to discover that the stories his father tells aren’t as unreal as he had thought of them to be. The stories turn out to be based on true events but have had things exaggerated or added to make the tale more interesting. The stories that Edward tells are bursting with symbolism and I’ve decided to show you five important symbols I discovered in the movie. I’ll also explain what I believe the tale symbolizes. The first couple of symbols I wish to talk about are found in the “Big Fish story” that Edward tells at the beginning of the film. In this story he claims that he caught the biggest fish in the state with his wedding ring as bait on the day his son Willie was born. Here Edward symbolizes himself in the story. He has always considered himself a big fish in life. Back in his hometown Edward felt like he was a big fish in a small pond, so to solve this problem he decided to move to the city, were he could swim in the ocean so to speak. Edward has always been a determined, strong willed man always looking for a challenge. This is the perfect simile for his life. The wedding ring also has an important symbolic meaning in the story. Edward was a very independent, bright man who was on top of his game. He was unable to “be caught” by anybody with the “ordinary bait” in his life as he was focused on completing his goals he had set for himself. However, Edward was eventually “captured” when he met and fell in love with his would be wife. She fished him right out of the water if you will, and they were soon married. Edward’s story reflects himself as the big fish who got caught by the wedding ring. The ring symbolizes the love between him and his wife. Edward later tells a story about a giant named Karl. Karl was a man who was fifteen feet tall and he had terrorized the area of his hometown, Ashton. The people of Ashton wanted to get rid of him through violent acts but Edward decided to go talk to the giant to see if he could solve the matter peacefully. It turns out that Edward and Karl become friends and Edward convinces his giant friend to come with him to the city. He tells Karl that they are alike in the fact that they are big fish in a small pond and that they need to move elsewhere. Karl agrees and together they leave to go to the city. This once again shows us how Edward Bloom sees himself as a big fish in a small pond. Karl is a visual example of how Edward saw himself too large for the town of Ashton. Edward continues the story, when he says he and Karl eventually came across a fork in the road when travelling to the big city. One path was paved and well traveled while the other was abandoned and overgrown. They decide to split company and meet when the roads cross again. Edward decides to take the older and dangerous road. • Edward is symbolizing of how he always wanted to take the challenging path in life. He never, ever took what he thought was the easy, well-traveled path. He wanted to be unique. Edward took the hard, narrow paths of life, no matter what the dangers it may possess. He found this more rewarding and satisfying. Edward is symbolizing of how he always wanted to take the challenging path in life. He never, ever took what he thought was the easy, well-traveled path. He wanted to be unique. Edward took the hard, narrow paths of life, no matter what the dangers it may possess. He found this more rewarding and satisfying. The last symbol I’ll talk about is the town of Spector. Edward tells the story of how he came across this peculiar town when travelling down the old road. When you arrived your shoes were taken and tossed over a wire. The townsfolk explained that you didn’t need your shoes as the ground of Spector was covered in soft green grass. Edward described the town as the “perfect and ideal town”. However Edward decided to leave the town, something no one had done before. The people there told him that it would be extremely hard and painful, as he wouldn’t have any shoes to travel with when traveling down the harsh road. However, Edward said goodbye and persevered when walking down the path. He eventually met up with Karl again. This story symbolizes of how he remained determined to remain faithful to his promises and goals. He left Spector, “the perfect town”, because he had promised Karl that he would meet up with him again. Edward also left because he wasn’t ready to settle in a town like that yet, he still had big plans to go to the big city and continue his life’s adventure. I believe the theme of the film “Big Fish”, is Edward guiding and telling his son Willie who he should be as an adult through his stories. In all of the tales, Edward symbolizes himself is some way or another. In each story he describes who he is as an individual and in doing so, is providing an example for Willie to follow. Through his stories Willie can learn honesty, perseverance, determination, and many other things. Also, Edward is also showing Willie who he is as a person. Theme
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