All posts by Gabrielle Esposito

Storyteller versus Liar

“Real life is stranger than fiction” is an applicable quote for Tim Burton’s Big Fish. A large portion of the film is devoted to visualizing the wild tall tales of Edward Bloom. Even though William is against his father’s stories, there is no denying that the visual pairing of orated stories is magical and everyone in the film finds Edward’s tales thrilling–except William. He believes that he doesn’t know his father because all of his life, all he’s ever heard about his father were tall tales. William automatically equates storytelling with lying, and doesn’t even consider that his father’s stories might be true. And why should he, when Edward Bloom has always been known for spinning fantastic tales? William only discovers that his father’s stories held truth at the funeral, where many people from Edward’s tales come to pay their final respects. The viewer is just as shocked as William to see these people because they seemed too fantastical to be true. It turns out that “real life is stranger than fiction” in Big Fish.

Or at least, it is to some extent. While many of the people present at Edward’s funeral are reminiscent of characters from the stories, there are some exceptions. There were never any Siamese twins, like Edward claimed there to be from Vietnam. This is the most apparent exception to Edward’s tale, and it raises the subtle question of how much his tales are true. Yes, the people he spoke about existed, but what about the tales surrounding the people? For instance, the town of Spectre sounds impossible, but the people Edward claimed to be from the town were present at the funeral. Being that fiction can’t possibly mimic real life, is Edward Bloom a liar or a storyteller for expanding on the details of his life?

Gabrielle Esposito