Tim Burton has created a special, lasting and enduring movie.
Where are all the extra features?
Big Fish is the story of Ed Bloom (Albert Finney) and the talks he has with his son Will (Billy Crudup) as he is on his deathbed. Ed lived quite a life and he's also a big storyteller. From his tremendous journeys, to the amazing people he meets along the way, to his ideas and schemes (some of which pan out and some of which don't), Ed Bloom lived quite a life. At this movies core is the relationship between Ed and his son Will. Will always thought his father wasn't around because he didn't care for his family. What he comes to understand is that his father wasn't around, and he did the things he did because he loved his family so much. Told with a majestic, fairy tale-like quality, Big Fish is the kind of movie that becomes special the more you let it's ideas percolate in your mind.
This movie was quite a departure for Tim Burton but in a lot of ways it wasn't. The idea of a father figure (or what we as kids idealize our fathers to be) is really something that nobody could live up to. This is something that Will Bloom eventually comes to terms with. The title of the film has multiple meanings but the most resounding is the idea that a "big fish" has more to do with our perceptions of someone, than maybe with who that person really is at all.
Audio Commentary Track
Tim Burton gives us a surprisingly insightful commentary track. Helping him along is Mark Salisbury who basically asks question after question in order to get Mr. Burton to respond. They discuss the themes of the movie, how certain things were achieved on screen and also what it was like working with Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, and other members in the cast. Overall, I think that Salisbury should be commended because I have heard that without somebody helping him along he's known to just watch the film and go long periods without saying anything. If you really want to hear a good commentary track then I recommend you also listen to the one he did with Paul Reubens for Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.
1080p / MPEG-2 Transfer. I knew that this movie was going to look good in this format. I remember seeing it on the big screen and really being taken with how solid it looked. There is a huge fairy tale element and that comes across in a very colorful way here. This DVD was so crisp and clear I actually think it looked a lot better than when I saw it in the theater. There is an elegance at work that really makes this movie play sharply in this format. The mixing of the colors with the set pieces and the characterizations, it feels like watching a movie from a different time.
PCM 5.1 - Uncompressed. Danny Elfman's scores seem made for the Blu-ray format. I have always thought that the levels that his music plays at are very big and filled out. They add a certain punch to the film which really makes this movie have a full feeling in your living room. It would seem that if your speakers are placed where they should be, one would get all the audio velocity that the creators of this disc intended. I was highly impressed with the way the sound seemed to remain consistently big regardless of if it was just people talking or it was simply the score and images against one another.
The bare trees with the sun coming up behind them along a majestic countryside is what is displayed here. The back shows some images from the movie, it gives people a description of what Big Fish is about, a Special Features list, a cast list, and specs to employ towards your system.
I liked this movie when I first saw it but I hadn't seen Big Fish since I screened it in a movie theater in 2003. Watching it now maybe my life has changed? Maybe other things have happened to give me a perspective? But this movie really resonated with me a lot more. I got a lot of the underlying themes and it just seemed to play better as a whole. Perhaps being in such a pristine format had something to do with it, but this movie is a really solid release for this format. Some of the titles that are moving to Blu-ray and HD-DVD, I wonder if they need to be done that way. There are just those certain films that don't need to have their picture quality bumped up any more than it currently is.
Big Fish is one of those movies that deserves to be on Blu-ray. It has a large canvas, amazing visual shots and Tim Burton at the helm. His movies are always very visually arresting. It is rare that something is in the frame for some arbitrary reason. He really seems to go out of his way to use every bit of on-screen real estate. As such, this really works for Blu-ray because the whole point is to see things that we maybe didn't see, or that weren't as colorful as they should have been in the theater and on standard DVD.
Big Fish was released December 25, 2003.