Question: Analyse how key themes were revealed through moments of conflict.
Big Fish Essay
Change, no matter how minor, is always accompanied by discomfort.
Big Fish, directed by Tim Burton, explores the concept of change in our lives and uses conflict to illustrate key themes such as how an adventure we go on will result in a lasting change to ourselves, perfection crushes creativity and how adventure is so appealing one is willing to lose everything to gain it.
Firstly, the conflict between William and Edward revealed the theme of how any adventure one goes on will result in a lasting change to themselves. William goes through the adventure of trying to understand who his father truly is and a medium shot of William’s body is used during his first confrontation with his father after 3 years of separation. This example of a medium shot reveals Williams’ exhausted and malcontented body language—sunk back—after his talk with his father brings him no closer to understanding the truth of his father’s fantastical stories. Through this example, it is clear that William despises his father’s fantastical, unrealistic stories. William is tired of listening to the same stories over and over. He just wants the truth. While this was true throughout the majority of the film, a change in William’s character is demonstrated at the end of the film when William emulates his father by reaping the same stories to his kids. This is proven through the use of dialogue when his son asks him about the fifteen-foot man, William replies “ yes that’s true.” The use of dialogue reveals how William is no longer embarrassed by his Father’s stories and that he is willing to tell the stories of his Father to the next generation. William’s adventure of trying to understand his Father caused him to grow as a person; from despising his Father’s stories to eventually taking on the position of the storyteller, it demonstrates how adventure can create a significant change in one’s self. The conflict between William and Edward underlines the theme of how any adventure one goes on will result in a lasting change to themselves. William was able to grow as a person as a result of this adventure, although the transformation was not easy. William had to battle his emotions day in and day out, and without the frustration and suffering, he would not have changed. Humans need to learn to change because sometimes change is the only way for people to finally move forward with their lives. Change will always bring discomfort, no matter how minor; it is this discomfort that will prompt people to think about what they can do to change their feelings. In turn, many will try and solve the solution because putting things off and ignoring the consequences is only temporary. Eventually, all things will come back and haunt people; putting everything in place.
Furthermore, the conflict between Norther the poet and the town of Spectre reveals the theme of how perfection crushes creativity. Norther Winslow wound up in the town of Spectre, where he worked for twelve years on a lifeless poem. This can be shown through the use of dialogue and a close-up of young Edward’s face reacting to the poem presented. Edward replies to Norther saying “ this is it? It’s only five lines long.‘’ The use of dialogue and close-up of Edward’s face is being used in such a way that it shows the look of disappointment and confusion that Edward is feeling, trying to process how such a profound poet now writes as well as a child. Norther is unable to improve as a poet when he is stuck in Spectre; the town of Spectre represents an almost perfect place, a utopia, where everyone is satisfied and comfortable. No matter what Norther writes the people of the town will encourage and worship his poetry because they don’t know any better. A medium-wide shot of Norther sitting in a chair surrounded by a group of women appreciating his work exemplifies this. The medium-wide shot focuses on the relationship between the Norther and the group and not only shows how the town dwells over him but reveals the dark side of Spectre. The town’s complacency. Complacency is the idea that because you have achieved success in the past, you don’t need to work anymore. Norther was known to be a prodigy that will do big things in the world of poetry, but along the way, he gets trapped in the stultified town of Spectre. As a result of living in “perfection”, his mentality changed, and he went from having enormous hopes and aspirations to not desiring anything in life at all. Norther started living a comfortable life and his creativity started to plummet. He cannot think of new ideas because the world in which he abides has no flaws. The conflict between Norther the poet and the town of Spectre reveals the theme of how perfection crushes creativity. The conflict that he faced demonstrates how a change in his mindset led him to experience uncertainty, irritation, and even humiliation since he was unable to develop the magnificent piece of poetry for which he was once renowned. Tim Burton uses the conflict between Norther the poet and the town of Spectre to teach people that in life trying to reach perfection is dissatisfactory. When perfectionists build unrealistic goals in their lives they will tend to always be irritated and anxious. The expectations and goals that they have set for themselves are so unrealistic that when they soon fail, they are left miserable. Although, a challenging time is something that all people should experience because challenge brings change. An example of this is how perfectionists tend to avoid all mistakes, they believe that making mistakes will hold them back and waste time. But, making mistakes is a crucial part of life. People’s brains begin to become more active when they make mistakes, and they begin to analyze situations more carefully and thoughtfully before coming to a new conclusion. Without some sort of discomfort in our lives, whether that be a failure, challenge or mistake change cannot be attained.
Lastly, the conflict between Edward and himself reveals the theme of how adventure is so appealing one is willing to lose everything to gain it. Edward was famous in the town of Ashton, a long shot of the cheerful gathered crowd is shown in the leaving parade held for Edward. This long shot shows how much the town loved Edward-that they would hold a giant celebration just for his departure-even so, Edward was willing to let go of the love and safety the town brought to seek adventure. The reason why Edward eagerly seeks adventure is that he is the Big Fish. The Big fish is the passion and dream of becoming a big fish in a big pond, someone who is famous in the big vast world.
“ The biggest fish in the river gets that way by never being caught,” is said by Edward through the use of dialogue. Digging deeper, the phrase highlights the true meaning of how Edward’s dreams and passions will continue to grow until he is finally at rest.
This is further shown when he constantly needs water throughout the film. “ I need water!” The dialogue said by Edward shows how the water is symbolic of Edward’s need for adventure in his life. A fish needs water to live, a Big fish also needs water to live. Therefore Edward is always thirsty; he will always have a constant growing desire for adventure until he is no longer alive. When Edward left the town of Ashton he brought change upon himself, a change of scenery, a change in lifestyle and many more. No matter how little the change, Edward was accompanied by discomfort. A great example of this is when Edward joins the circus and works day in and day out for a year only to learn the name of the woman he loves. He is unpaid and does whatever is required of him, from cleaning an obese man to picking up elephant dung. People experience changes daily in the society they live in. Whether it’s a shift in our surroundings, relationships, or thinking, change is present everywhere. As a result of this, uncertainty clouds the future because of political upheavals, conflicts, and diseases. No one ever knows what will truly happen in the future. Therefore, people need to understand that change is a normal part of life; trying to cling to things that will inevitably change will only bring us more suffering.
Change, no matter how minor, is always accompanied by discomfort. Big fish explores the concept of change in our lives and uses conflict to illustrate key themes such as how an adventure we go on will result in a lasting change to ourselves, perfection crushes creativity and how adventure is so appealing one is willing to lose everything to gain it. Change is something that we cannot easily control, but the challenges it brings will benefit us greatly.