[lit-ideas] Re: Big Fish

  • From: "Phil Enns" <phil.enns@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 31 May 2004 10:34:38 -0400

I really liked the movie _Big Fish_.  At the beginning of the movie,
which is largely a montage of 'big fish' stories, I wasn't sure if I
would like it since I am not a fan of magic realism.  However, as the
movie progressed, I realized that it wasn't about the stories but rather
the role these stories played in the father/son relationship.  This I
understood.  I won't say anymore about the movie because I don't want to
spoil it for others.

My dad also likes telling stories, though not of the 'big fish' variety.
When I was young I loved travelling because it would be on these
occasions where he would tell his stories.  These stories were of two
kinds.  The first kind were of his life.  He would talk of what it was
like being of German origin growing up in the Soviet Union in the
1930's.  He would tell stories of how, during WWII, as refugees they
travelled just ahead of the retreating German army and how the evening
sky to the East would be lit up by artillery fire.  He would talk about
how they fled a train station, filled with refugees, just minutes before
it was blown up by American bombers.  He told stories of the time he, as
a boy about 11 or 12, was 'seconded' by a SS unit to drive their wagons
because they didn't know anything about horses.  He told stories of
travelling/sneaking through the various sectors of Berlin before finding
a sympathetic British officer who got my dad's family on a train out of
Germany.  He told stories of arriving in Canada, barely a teenager,
knowing no English and how warmly he was received by Canadians.

The other kind of stories he told were often about giants, in particular
there was one story about a lazy tailor and a giant with poor eyesight.
I liked that one alot.  He also told alot of stories about a guy trying
to get home to his family who kept meeting strange creatures like a
Cyclops and sirens.  And when the guy gets home he finds that perhaps he
has been away too long and so he has to sneak around in order to get his
family back.  All pretty fantastic stuff, and I loved it.

It was through my dad telling these stories that we developed our
relationship and so I can appreciate _Big Fish_ as a story about a
father and his son.  It wasn't really the stories themselves since they
didn't teach me much, though it gave me ideas of how to get out of a
Cyclops' cave if I were to ever find myself trapped in such a
predicament.  I haven't given this much thought but there was something
about the storytelling which allowed us to bond.

All of this is a long way of saying that I 'got' _Big Fish_ though I
can't exactly explain why.


Phil Enns,
son of Gary Enns,
Toronto, ON

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