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Big Fish

2 h 5 min2004X-RayHDRUHDPG
Edward Bloom has always been a teller of tall-tales about his oversized life as a young man, when his wanderlust led him on an unlikely journey from a small-town in Alabama, around the world, and back again. His mythic exploits dart from the delightful to the delirious as he weaves epic tales about giants, blizzards, a witch and conjoined-twin lounge singers. With his larger-than-life stories, ..
Tim Burton
Billy CrudupHailey Anne NelsonEwan McGregor
Science FictionDramaAction
English [CC]
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Rentals include 30 days to start watching this video and 48 hours to finish once started.
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Supporting actors
Gary NewtonAlbert FinneyJessica LangeHelena Bonham CarterAlison LohmanRobert GuillaumeMarion CotillardSteve BuscemiDanny DeVito
Richard D. ZanuckBruce CohenDan Jinks
Columbia Pictures
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Prime Video (streaming online video)
Available to watch on supported devices


4.5 out of 5 stars

3259 global ratings

  1. 74% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 14% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 6% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 5% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

Aurore Le ComteReviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 August 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
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A must to see, poetic, touching and full of hope
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United Kingdom on 04 August 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great movie 🎥
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Movie for all ages
Jack RansomReviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 September 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Big Fish
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One of Tim Burton's more overlooked films. Big Fish follows the incredible life of Edward Bloom (Ewan McGregor & Albert Finney), through a series of flashbacks that begin when his son Will (Billy Crudup) visits him for the last time. Edward is dying of cancer, and Will hasn't spoken to him for years because he believes him to be a liar that never really cared for his family. As Edward's story unfolds once again, Will tries to finally understand the truth about who his father really was.

A much more bright, optimistic and lighthearted affair then many of Burton's other works, though still very much is his style and often quirky tone. Presenting a fantastical, optimistic and engaging tale of one man's life as he reaches its end, as well as delivering a grounded and raw relationship between a father and son. The visual style and variety of locations, characters (with brilliant performances) and situations keep the film consistently engaging despite a few pacing problems and a mostly repetitive structure.

The film's structure is a very straightforward one. As Will and his wife talk to his father and when encountering various objects and mementos from his childhood within his mother and father's home, the film will flashback and present the context and details of the story, atmospherically and enthusiastically narrated by both the young and old Edward. These stories are ripe for Burton's style to add the more bizarre and otherworldly elements that add to what are very classically themed tales of adventure, romance and action. At times some of the sections do go on slightly too long, whilst not being as developed or intriguing as others. The present day situation between Will and Edward is excellently written and the conclusion of the film is one of the most emotionally satisfying and simultaneously wholesome and sad endings I have seen.

The flashbacks sequences are vibrant, full of colour and life. Each location is distinct and very well detailed and described. From the typical Burton-esque Gothic style of the witches house, the perfectly neat and eerily happy and blinding optimism of the secret town of Spectre, to the bustling and chaotic travelling circus, the traditional to the very retro feeling romance of the Auburn University. This contrasts against the more grounded and bleaker present reality and the dusty forgotten mementos of Edward's past. The cinematography is great and the props, costumes and set designs are very well crafted.

Ewan McGregor gives an enthusiastic and very likeable performance as the young Edward. Capturing his kindness, ambition and charm that makes him popular amongst those in his tales. Albert Finney does a perfect job as the older, weaker and more emotional counter-balance to his younger self, yet still keeping the sense of adventure and enthusiasm. Billy Crudup gives a solemn and at times bitter performance as Will, yet its obvious still how much he cares for his father. Marion Cotillard meanwhile revels in Will's father's stories and gives a kindhearted performance. Danny DeVito, Helena Bonham Carter, Steve Buscemi & Matthew McGrory all deliver in their supporting roles.

Big Fish is a unique, charming, strange and engaging tale. The story feels like a true life's journey and the performances of the variety of characters are all strong and visually and stylistically the film nails it. Aside from a few pacing problems and some less interesting and focused plot moments, this is still well worth a watch.
4 people found this helpful
LanaReviewed in the United Kingdom on 04 May 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
My favourite film, but no subtitles for the Thailand part?
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I love this film and had it on DVD for a long time - until it was lost in a move. Really glad to have found it on Prime but in the scene where Edward is recruiting Ping & Jing the Siamese twins in Korea: the subtitles that were present in my previous copy were missing - not great if your language skills, like mine, are lacking!
Dr Jacques COULARDEAUReviewed in the United Kingdom on 09 November 2008
5.0 out of 5 stars
Story telling as the embellishment of real life
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Big Fish (2003)

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Name: Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
Location: Olliergues, France

Summary: We are all the mythical fish of some one else
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film is well done and we can see here and there some images that are recalling elements of other films by Tim Burton, like an image resembling the basic image of The Nightmare Before Christmas. There are many more, well, at least a few. That's the sign of a man who wants to build a complete set of films, that is able to connect his films with some bonds and strings to make them a whole and not just isolated tit bits. But more than that the film also uses allusions to works that are not Tim Burton's. We definitely cannot miss the allusion to Twilight Zone in that village lost in the forest and we automatically think it must be a village beyond life, hence the hero must have died along the way, maybe with the jumping spiders. We will only know it is not the case at the very end of the film.

The first problem touched by Tim Burton is the absence of relation between a son and a father because the father always told stories and after the happy age of six or seven children know what a story is and that it is not true. But the father was always telling his own story of what had happened to him though it was wrapped up in such a bazaar of useless things, useless because unreal but essential because the father lived in them, such a bazaar of strange things that the son came to the point of being embarrassed by the stories because he could not believe in them and was ashamed by his father telling what he considered lies. They were lies for him and in fact they were stories for everyone else and the father was a story teller, a man who was able to provide others with dreams. It took the son quite a few days visiting his father after several years of complete non-communication, when the father was in the process of dying, for the son to understand that in fact the father was happy and made people around him happy, including himself and his son, by telling these "false stories" that were true to ,his heart, to his mind, to his being himself even if it is in a field of daffodils, thousands and thousands of daffodils, which is the purest lie you can imagine, especially on the quadrangle of a college campus.

The lesson for the son is that he was embarrassed because HE was seeing these stories as lies, because he considered he could not know his father, reach out to him.

But the lesson about the father is a lot more interesting. It is a lesson for everyone. It is what Tim Burton is doing all the time to us. The stories are absolutely true, including in the impossible elements because they reveal the man who is telling them. Tim Burton is his films and we have the right to consider that his films are transparent loincloths of various colors that reveal all that should be hidden, at least in public. The stories a man, a film maker is telling are the blood and flesh and some other fluids of the man and the film maker.

This is a crazy idea but a beautiful consideration. One cannot tell one's private activities in bed, in the bedroom or wherever. But One can always tell some stories about some events that happened to him that are a metaphor of his most intimate and perverse and masochistic and sadistic impulses he cannot satisfy in any way. Here the Circus master is a werewolf. How silly, but how true about a man who is an exploiter of people right down and through till he gets to their life itself and who can set up the death of a small circus person so that it becomes a reason for the circus to be famous or infamous. What about putting your head in a lion's mouth? Courage? For sure. But the master is going to save some money if the lion bites because he has insurance and the circus will be more than famous. So a werewolf or not?

The son will understand that so well in the last minutes of his father's life that he will tell his father what will happen after his death but just five minutes before, as a story of his escape and rejuvenation, renascence, salvation: in the story he will become the legendary big fish he has never been able to catch. A man is the stories he tells. A woman maybe too, but Tim Burton hardly deals with women, hardly knows women, hardly dares to say anything about women, or so little, so far at least.

That's what makes this film touching and sensitive but is that a philosophy, a catharsis, a sublimation of one's evil or is it a lie, a pure lie, an illusion thrown to the masses to be their new opium?

I will not choose and be sure I consider opium as a respectable means to meditate on one's alienation by hooking up on this addictive habit. It is a real choice and so many people get into alcoholism or drug addiction just not to have to choose between sublimation and meditation, catharsis and lying.

2 people found this helpful
Priyan MeewellaReviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 June 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars
Fishy Tales...
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Many critics would have you believe that Big Fish marks a huge departure for director Tim Burton. But while visually this may be true, in essence this heartwarmingly surreal tale of loneliness, inability to fit in, and struggling with being misunderstood by the world make this perfect Burton material. And recovering from his shaky Planet of the Apes remake, he delivers his most mature work so far.
Edward Bloom [Albert Finney] has always told tall tales about his oversized life as a young man [Ewan McGregor]. His fabulous exploits take him from small-town Alabama around the world meeting giants, witches, and a pair of conjoined lounge singers, until he finally meets and woos his true love, Sandra [Jessica Lange]. While his tales capture and charm almost everyone, his frustrated son Will [Billy Crudup] is struggling to learn the truth of his dying father's life before it is too late. Unable to change his Edward, Will must learn to separate the fact from the fiction as father and son are reunited.
The driving force of Big Fish is its characters and the casting is simply superb. Finney's scenes were apparently filmed first, allowing McGregor to watch and assimilate some of his mannerisms into his younger portrayal. Crudup is able to amply portray the Will's frustration as he finds himself unable to connect with his father. And the resemblance between the wonderful Lange and Lohman as the younger and older versions of Edward's wife is uncanny. McGregor is particularly successful in walking the same fine line as the story itself, balancing between the real and unreal without ever seeming absurd or silly. Will's wife is an especially beautiful character, being both the perfect wife and a charming fresh audience for Edward's anecdotal stories, he brow knotting prettily in concern as he tells the delightfully twisted tale of the prophetic crow. The performances are all heartfelt, but Mcgregor manages to blend this with Burton's quirkiness perfectly.
Burton's eye for such absurdity is brilliantly realised and the new bright palette is both striking and suitable for the usually darker-toned director. The dazzling special effects are used exactly as they should be, to enhance the story and complement the selection of vividly portrayed cameo characters, not to overshadow them as is so easy in this age of big-budget Hollywood extravagance. The cameos are indeed crucial to the pacing of the film. Every scene in which Danny DeVito or Steve Buscemi appear are filled with such vibrance that the audience are swept away with the tales just as Edward's own audiences are.
Big Fish is ultimately a film of beautiful and breathtaking moments in the extraordinary tale of an ordinary man. One of the most moving is a simple sequence with scarce dialogue in which Lange slides into a bath with Finney, both fully clothed, and their love could not be better displayed. Our first glimpse of the siamese twin singers is simply stunning, and equally the other myriad of visually crafted images like the field of daffodils Edward uses to woo his wife in one of the sweetest, grandest cinematic romantic gestures. Equally, underplayed scenes such as the delicate hospital sequences at the end become all the more moving in juxtaposition, as they gain an added intensity. Burton freely admits he was influenced here by the recent death of his own father, although he adds that he was never particularly close to his parents.
But Burton's true skill is in carefully drawing and manipulating the emotions of his audience. As Edward is beaten by his future wife's boyfriend, we first wince in pain, then laugh at McGregor's inane grin, and then are filled with real concern as he lies broken, all within a few seconds. We cannot help but be endeared to both father and son which makes us intrinsically a part of Will's discovery that sometimes fact and fiction are not so far apart, and sometimes they cannot be unravelled at all, in the "surprise ending" Edward always promised his death would be as he saw it in a witch's eye so many years before.
While whimsical on the surface, Big Fish represents Burton's most mature and personal work to date. Perhaps it marks a new and more honest direction for the director, but it certainly ranks among his best with it's delicately balanced poignancy and humour.
3 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 May 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great movie
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Love it
Andy MillwardReviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 January 2005
4.0 out of 5 stars
A spectacular journey but...
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If you can accept a certain proportion of twee content, Big Fish provides a certain charm from the Forrest Gump school, plus a sobering reminder of the emotions we all go through when our fathers pass away.
The imaginative tall stories are told magnificently, with great credit to both Albert Finney and Ewen McGregor for weaving the spell to such good effect. On the negative side, some of the lumbering scriptwork for Billy Crudup as the son checking out his father's past detracts from the pace, though used as a device to rediscover the town of Spectre and the father's unspoken role in rebuilding it. It seems an intrusion to impose a note of unwelcome reality on the stories to prove or disprove them. Proving the stories to be largely true seems irrelevant to the impact, much like uncovering the mechanics behind a magician's tricks.
The casting is eccentric but works remarkably well, particularly the use of British actors in American roles. McGregor performs with zest and vigour, and Finney is entirely believable as the older storyteller. Helena Bonham Carter comes over well in two roles, especially in heavy make-up as the old witch (no more typecasting in period roles!) Look out for other strange cameos too: Danny DeVito as a circus ringmaster and the folk singer Loudon Wainwright III as the mayor of Spectre.
Like the curate's egg, Big Fish is very good in parts. It rambles, but ultimately draws together the threads in a finale. In that respect, it reminded me of Lindsay Anderson's epic Oh Lucky Man - not quite satisfying in the final analysis, but a spectacular journey to get there.
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