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The Odyssey and Big Fish
Transcript of The Odyssey and Big Fish
-Big Fish is a 2003 Tim Burton film based on a novel by Daniel Wallace, who was influenced by The Odyssey and Greek mythology
Homeric Influences on Tim Burton's Film
Sandra and Penelope
An Epic Journey
-Edward Bloom's story starts in Alabama, where he is born and raised; he believes himself "too big" for his hometown of Ashton
The American South vs. Ancient Greece
-Much of the film uses the framing device of the father telling his son outlandish stories about his life and adventures
-These stories are the main focus of the film, although there is a bigger plot line outside of the stories
Big Fish and Its Structure
-The film focuses on a dying father (Edward Bloom) and his relationship with his estranged son (Will Bloom)
-This is very similar to the structure of The Odyssey, where Odysseus tells of the exploits occurring on his way home while still in the midst of the voyage
-This is much like Odysseus' reluctance to go to the Trojan War and the difficulties he experiences getting back home
-After many adventures, he meets Sandra, a girl he falls in love with; however, he is eventually drafted into the Korean War and must go to extreme lengths to return to her, having more escapades along the way
-Like Odysseus, Edward is "larger than life" and seems destined for more than a quiet life at home; like Ashton, Ithaca is a somewhat sleepy and unremarkable place
Jenny and Circe
Magic and Madness
Other Mythical Similarities
Big Fish Trailer
"Big Fish - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Fish>.
Big fish. Dir. Tim Burton. Perf. Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup. Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment, 2003. Film.
Fagles, Robert. The Odyssey. New York: Viking, 1996. Print.
Doty, William. "Mythic Imagination Institute." Mythic Imagination Institute - Mythic Passages, the Magazine of Imagination. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2013. <http://www.mythicjourneys.org/newsletter_dec06_doty.html>.
Trakhman, Elizabeth, and Kate Boyet. "Big Fish and The Odyssey Comparison of
Sandra Bloom and Penelope." elizabethtrakhman. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2013. <http://elizabethtrakhman.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/big-fish-and-the-odyssey-comparison-of-sandra-bloom-and-penelope/>.
-Edward Bloom's love interest is a girl named Sandra, and he spends most of the film trying to be with her
-After falling in love with her the first time he sees her, he must do the bidding of a circus ringleader to learn her name and where she lives. Once he has wooed her and they are together, he is drafted; when he finally returns from war he has to work as a traveling salesman in order to support her
-Throughout all of this, Sandra loves Edward unconditionally and waits for him loyally; similarly, almost everything he does
-Penelope is also a loyal wife who stays true to her husband while he is away, and Odysseus is also a man who is motivated by his family, particularly his wife
-When he is young, Edward Bloom happens upon a seemingly idyllic town called Spectre; there, he meets a young girl named Jenny who takes a liking to him
-Years later, when working as a traveling salesman, he returns to the town and finds Jenny living in a dilapidated home; taking
-Jenny eventually confesses her love for Edward, but Edward's love of his family prevents him from committing to her
-While Jenny is certainly not as manipulative as Circe, she also falls in love with a married man and finds ways to keep him around
-Edward and Odysseus both care for Jenny and Circe, respectively, but their love for their wives outweighs this affection
-Big Fish draws from The Odyssey in more subtle ways than strong plot parallels; it also has elements of traditional Greek mythology
-When Edward is young, he meets a one-eyed witch who can see the future and tells him how he will die; this mirrors the way the blind prophet Tiresias predicts Odysseus' future.
and every adventure he embarks on is done with her in mind
pity on her, he often leaves his family in order to spend time with Jenny and help her fix her house
-Edward also fights a vicious guard dog not unlike the Cerbeus, the three-headed dog who guards Hades, and encounters mythical creatures such as a giant, who resembles the Cyclops
The idea of prophecy is strong not only in The Odyssey but in Greek literature in general