Tuesday, January 20, 2004

"The thing about iceburgs is..."

You only see ten percent. The rest, the ninety percent left, is underwater.

Which is kinda like "Big Fish". I got the feeling that I didn't get all of it.

Sometimes, works of art give you the idea that you're "not getting it", not really. Some works justify a further search for meaning and importance, and provide a rewarding experience when that deeper truth is found. Some really don't, and end up being disappointing after you waste the time going deeper. I think "Big Fish" is in the first category.

It's hard to really say what I thought about "Big Fish." I... liked it? Yes, I did. Loved it? I don't know. I'd need to see it again.

I saw the movie, in the first place, because of three names. Ewan McGregor. Billy Crudup. Tim Burton. And while it is nothing like other Tim Burton films, it was interesting. Very interesting.

Although it is no evangelical tool, the film contained several object lessons. Nuggets of truth. If you wanted to look.

I'll present one (hopefully not spoiling your enjoyment of any future viewings). There is a town in the story named Spectre. It is located in the midst of a vast, dangerous forest, and is by comparison the most idyllic location imaginable. No one wears shoes, because the grass is green and soft. Everyone is wearing light colors, almost faded to white. Everyone is smiling, friendly, happy. The main character loses his shoes during his visit, and they end up hanging off a powerline, just like everyone elses. He meets a well-known poet, who once had dreams of travel, yet decided to stay, and in the process lost his poetic voice. While everything and everyone seems perfect, the main character realizes that if he stays, he'll never fulfill his potential, and will also break a promise he made. So to the shock of everyone in town, he decides to leave. A little girl asks, "but how will you leave without your shoes?" The main character responds, "Well, I imagine it will hurt a lot. But i've got to go."

I thought about this scene quite a bit on the way home. And this is what I got out of it. The town of Spectre (an illusion, perhaps?) represents the "good" (which Lewis-scholars remember is the enemy of the "best") that can cross our path. And it may be nice, and we may be satisfied. But if we know we are destined (called) for better things, we cannot settle for the "good", no matter how tempting it is. Just as Edward, the main character, decides. He feels his destiny leading him out of town, and he must follow.

Now comes the interesting part. He's lost his shoes. The famous poet living there hung up his shoes and never left. And in a way, never fulfilled the poetic part of his destiny (although he ends up doing a lot of good later). But Edward, feeling the pull to leave, decides to leave the soft, green ease of the "good" for the difficult, rocky, painful path to the "better." Which is an uncommon philosophy to take, in this culture. And because he made the hard choice, he went on to live a miraculous life.

That was one scene from the movie. There are quite a few to chew on. I'm still chewing.

Bottom line: I enjoyed the movie, quite a bit. Lots to think about, which is uncommon for movies these days. It's not deeply philosophical, but it's not shallow either. Although there were too many instances of naked backside in this movie (of both genders), I would certainly recommend it to anyone who wants a movie with some ideas to chew on.

No comments: