The films of Tim Burton have often been criticised for being more about style than substance. Critics would say that they feature a lack of humanity, leaning heavily on visuals rather than heart. This cannot be said for 2003’s Big Fish, a father/son drama which is one of Burton’s most heartfelt films and one that features a finale which packs a serious emotional punch.
Based on Daniel Wallace’s 1998 novel of the same name (expertly adapted by John August), Big Fish sees Albert Finney star as Edward Bloom, a man dying from cancer who is trying to reconcile with his estranged son (Billy Crudup – fantastic). Edward’s fantastical life is told in flashback, with Ewan McGregor taking on the role of the young Edward.
Big Fish is a powerful tale exceptionally well told. The film features plenty of Burton’s trademark visual style, but it works best in the smaller more intimate moments between Finney and Crudup. There’s so much going on beneath the surface that these scenes crackle with electricity. They perfectly counterbalance the fantastical flashback story elements of young Edward, making sure that the whole thing works as a comedic fantasy and a heartfelt drama.
As well as the great work from Finney, Crudup and McGregor, Big Fish also features a stellar supporting cast. Jessica Lange, Helena Bonham Carter, Alison Lohman, Marion Cotillard, Steve Buscemi and Danny DeVito all impress in their roles, making sure that all characters feel fully released. The acting in Burton’s gothic fantasy is great – and so are the technical elements. The cinematography by frequent cinematographer Philippe Rousselot is exceptional, bringing to life some hugely impressive sets, while Danny Elfman‘s wonderful musical score is playful, yet emotive. Everything here is first rate.
Big Fish is Tim Burton at his best. The film features all the gothic tropes which fans adore, but this time around there’s a rich and heartfelt story anchoring the visuals. Wonderful performances make sure that Big Fish will have a lasting impact on anyone which watches it. Brilliant.
Big Fish has been newly remastered in 4K resolution from the original camera negative, with HDR10, as well as all-new Dolby Atmos audio + original theatrical 5.1 audio. It also comes with interviews with the cast, plenty of behind the scenes pieces on how the film was made and a commentary from Tim Burton which is moderated by Mark Salisbury. An excellent package.