Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Big Fish or Truth

The study of phenomenology was founded by Edmund Husserl, and further examined by Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre. It is essentially the study of structures of experience of consciousness. It studies the appearance of things and the way they appear in our own experience. These conscious experiences come from our subjective, first person point of view of what we observe through the use of our senses. There are many signifiers that have meaning in what we have experienced. These experiences include our own perception, thoughts, imagination, memories, emotions, and desires. According to Husserl, “our experience is directed toward — represents or “intends” — things only through particular concepts, thoughts, ideas, images, etc. These make up the meaning or content of a given experience, and are distinct from the things they present or mean.” Perception and self-awareness are major aspects of phenomenology. It focuses on subjective, practical, and social conditions of our experience.

Perspective and imagination is what makes it possible for two people to experience the same thing and have a totally different perception of it. In Tim Burton’s “Big Fish,” the main character, Edward Bloom, tells stories of his experiences from his own perception and memories, which are also based off of his imagination and desires.

In the first clip, his son Will tells his wife he has never told her the stories his father told her because none of it is true. He believes that his father found his life so boring that he had to make up stories to make it interesting. According to Will, “He has never told me a single true thing.” Will doesn’t understand why his father continues to tell these stories, because he feels that he is embarrassing himself.

In the next scene, Will talks to his father, saying he has no idea who he really is because he never told him any facts. His father responds that he has told him a thousand facts. His father believes he tells stories about his life, while Will sees them as nothing but lies. He doesn’t understand why his father continued making up stories even as he grew older. Will feels stupid that he believed his father’s stories so much longer than he should have. He tells his father, “You’re like Santa Clause and the Easter bunny combined- just as charming and just as fake.” He wants to know the real person behind his father’s stories, not the fantasy from his imagination. Will wants his father to just be himself, when he truth is that his father has been nothing but himself.

While cleaning out his father’s office, Will starts to find evidence that coincide with the stories his father has been telling him his whole life. Will’s mother tells him that not everything his father ever told him was made up. Will ends up tracing his father’s footsteps and realizes that the stories he grew up hearing were not completely made up. In fact, they were mostly truth. He starts going to places and finding people he once thought only existed within his father’s mind.

The second clip (from 3:00) is the scene of his father’s funeral. Will looks around and sees all the ‘characters’ from his father’s stories, further proving that his father did not make up or imagine all of the stories he told. He did perhaps embellish them, but that is the beauty of perspective, because the father could have truly been telling the stories the way he believed he experienced them.

This relates back to phenomenology and the imagination. Will’s father believes his stories to be the truth, while he believes them to be complete lies. The truth is actually somewhere in between, with his father’s stories representing his experiences in his consciousness. Will’s father has a great sense of self-awareness, unlike his son, which is why he is able to separate his self from his thoughts. He does not believe that his thoughts determine who his self is. The characters and objects in his stories were signifiers of the actual people and objects in real life. Edward Bloom did not make up stories. He simply told things the way they appeared to be to him.

Works Cited

“Big Fish Movie Part 9 of 14.” YouTube, 27 June 2008. Web. 28 July 2010.

“Big Fish Movie Part 13 of 14. YouTube, 1 July 2008. Web. 28 July 2010.

Leitch, Vincent. The Norton Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2001. Print.

No comments:

Post a Comment