directed by Tim Burton
USA 2003


With the exception of the abysmal reversion of ”Planet of the Apes”, Tim Burton has for over twenty years amazed us with grotesque surreal gothic fairytales. As one of the most original auteurs of American cinema, his vision has always surrounded an outcast who, himself, has a unique perception of the world around him, who challenges conformity and narrow-mindedness.

Based upon the novel by Daniel Wallace, the story is about William Bloom, who was brought up on amazing tales about his fathers life, only to reject him. Now three years later, he returns home, as his father is about to die, determined to find the truth about his fabulist father.

Screenwriter John August transformed the 25 vignettes of the book into a Burtonesque Southern Gothic tale about the power of stories as wisdom. Hence, a simple vignette based upon the line “the road less traveled”, becomes a story about taking chances, facing dangers and discovering something new and wonderful. The film thus becomes a visualization of metaphors and the wisdom that comes with wandering thru life.

While most of the tales, especially the early ones, are pure myth, some of the later tales comes off as “Forrest Gumpish”; Here I'm thinking about Norther Winslow’s rise from bank robber to millionaire, the Korean war tale and the reconstruction of Spectre. The problem has two sides. Before his marriage, he is a wandering loner, sort of a 3rd person narrator, a personification of “us” within the myth, afterwards he turns into a 1st person narrator, actively creating myth. Also, where the early tales are myth and has Ed being na´ve, then becoming omniscient thru his experiences, the later tales lack this and are mere distorted reality. Thus the “reality” of the film relies on our ability to mirror ourselves in the tales.

Nevertheless, it is nice to see Burton back on familiar ground again, after his detour with “Planet of the Apes”. While “Big Fish” is far from the perfection of “Batman returns” and “Ed Wood”, it is still a wonderful film, full of beautiful grotesque imagery.

Henrik Sylow


Theatrical Release: December 10, 2003

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DVD Review: Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the Review!

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Region 2,4,5 - PAL

Runtime 2:00:01 (4% PAL speedup)

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.47 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital English, Italian, Hungarian
Subtitles Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Danish, English, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Slov
Features Release Information:
Studio: Universal

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by Tim Burton
• Featurettes...
• Edward Bloom at large (8:46)
• Amos at the Circus (4:38)
• Fathers and Sons (7:21)
• Tim Burton: Storyteller (6:45)
• A fairytale world (9:33)
• Creatures Features (6:26)
• The Author's Journey (7:58)
• Finer Points: Trivia about Tim Burton
• Trailers
• Easter Egg: Tim Burton on Golf Cart

DVD Release Date: September 22, 2004
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Chapters 28


Comments Where the picture is beautiful, full of solid colours, the sound does not fully live up to standards. The rears are surprisingly passive and the sound is very centre based. Only rarely does it really live up to being 5.1 Dolby Digital.

The next problem is the menus. While being rather flat in design, one has to set everything up thru the menus. One cannot change channels nor subtitles while watching the film.

The audio commentary is really a conversation lead by Maxwell Bridiay (“Burton on Burton”), where Burton talks about the production, the themes and so forth. It is not amongst the best commentaries out there, but still far from boring.

The best additional material are the featurettes. Thru seven of them, we are introduced to several aspects of the film, and while they are of the “back-clapping” nature, they still are very informative. Here one has the option to activate the featurettes while watching the film. Doing so, an icon will appear on the screen whenever its time to go behind the scenes and one can then chose to interrupt the viewing.

Finally there is a trivia to test one’s knowledge about Tim Burton’s films.

 - Henrik Sylow


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