Big Fish (Film) Summary and Analysis of Part 1: The Witch’s Prophecy


The film begins with the voice of a young Edward Bloom telling us that “There are some fish that can’t be caught…they’re just touched by something extra.” He elaborates that there was one such fish, the Beast, that was a prominent figure in his own childhood. In voiceover, Edward speaks to his son, Will, telling him that he caught the Beast on the day Will was born.

The scene shifts and we see Edward, with a Native American headdress, telling a group of boys gathered around a campfire about his run-in with the Beast. He tells them that in order to catch the fish, he needed to use his gold wedding ring to lure the fish. The scene shifts and we see a much older version of Edward telling Will’s prom date the story of the fish, while Will waits impatiently in the hall. He whispers to his mother, “Make him stop….”

The scene shifts again and we see Edward giving the toast at Will’s wedding, yet again telling the story of the fish. Suddenly, Will whispers to his new wife and leaves the room. His mother, Sandra Bloom, stops him as he leaves, telling him that it’s still his night, but he leaves nonetheless. Sandra watches admiringly and walks towards her husband, as Edward finishes the story, saying, “Sometimes the only way to catch an un-catch-able woman is to offer her a weddin’ ring.”

Outside on the boat on which Will is getting married, Edward confronts his son about his not wanting him to tell the story. “I’m a footnote in that story, dad. I’m the context for your great adventure.” Will gets more angry at his father, insisting that the story isn’t true, and that he was in Wichita the day he was born, working a normal job. “Everyone loves that story!” insists Edward, but Will is furious.

Edward doesn’t speak to his father for three years. We see him answering phones in an office, and he picks up a letter from his mother, who he tells us would communicate on Edward’s behalf. “The truth is I didn’t see anything of myself in my father, and I don’t think he saw any of himself in me,” Will says. We see Edward swimming in the pool at night.

The scene shifts and we see Edward up to his knees in a lake, fishing. Suddenly, he transforms from his older to his younger self. Young Edward feels a pull on his fishing rod and begins trying to pull in the fish, before deciding to pick it up in his arms. In an instant, the fish coughs up his wedding rings and swims away.

We go back in time to Edward’s birth, seeing his mother pushing him out in a doctor’s office. When she does, the baby goes flying out of her womb and sliding down the hall, much to everyone’s shock. Eventually, a nurse catches him.

Back in the present, we see Will and his wife, Josephine, arriving back at their apartment. The phone rings and Josephine hands it to Will. It’s Sandra, Will’s mother, who informs him that they’re stopping his father’s chemotherapy. “You have to go,” Josephine says, and tells him she’ll go with him.

On the plane that night, Will sees a young boy making shadow puppets on his tray table and is transported back into a memory. We see young Edward making shadow puppets for young Will before bed. Will requests a story about a witch, and Edward tells the story.

We are transported into the story, and see a group of children walking through the woods at night. Edward narrates to his son, “Now it’s common knowledge that all towns of a certain size have a witch,” and we see the children approaching a house. Edward mentions that witches use bones to cast spells and cause infertility, and the children in the story gossip about the witch’s attributes, specifically her glass eye, which is said to be imbued with mystical powers.

When child Edward doubts the story about the eye, another dares him to go into the witch’s house and steal it for himself. Edward accepts the dare and goes into the house as his friends watch. As he goes to open the door, it opens abruptly and Edward sees the witch, wearing an eyepatch, standing in the door. He introduces himself calmly and tells the witch that some of his friends want to see her eye. She follows him back to his friends and removes her eyepatch to show the children. They look in her eye and see how they will die, one falling as an old man, and the other dying at a much younger age while on the toilet. They run away in fear.

Edward goes for a walk with the witch, and tells her that things might be easier if he knew how he was going to die, before asking to see her eye. She lifts up her eyepatch, and he sees, but the viewer does not. The witch simply nods, then goes back into her house.

Back in the present day, we see Josephine and Will arriving at his parents’ house, greeting Sandra warmly. The doctor is up with Edward and Sandra tells Will that his father is refusing to eat, and that that is making him weaker. “How much time does he have left?” he asks, but his mother tells him not to talk about that.

Inside, Will greets Dr. Bennett, the family doctor, who immediately notices that Josephine is pregnant, and whispers to her, “It’s a boy!” Sandra gives Will a protein shake to bring to his father to drink, and as he walks upstairs, Will looks at all the old photos of himself on the wall in the hallway.

Will finds his father in bed, looking weak. “You are in for a surprise,” says Edward, referencing the fact that Will is going to be a father soon. When Will tells Edward to drink the protein shake, Edward tells him that people ought to stop worrying, because he knows that it’s not his time yet. “The old lady by the swamp?” Will says, before asking Edward what the witch predicted. Edward won’t tell him, wanting to keep it a surprise, then tells Edward that they are very similar, storytellers, the only difference being that Edward speaks his stories and Will writes them down.

Looking uncomfortable, Will tells his father, “I just want to know the true versions of things,” and asks his father to tell it like it is for once in his life. When Edward doesn’t bite, Will leaves the room, sighing and drinking some of the protein shake himself.

On his way downstairs, Will goes and peers into his childhood bedroom, in which he recalls a memory. We are transported back in time again and we see the young Will in bed with the chicken pox, telling his father that Dr. Bennett told him to stay in bed for three weeks. Young Edward sits at his bedside and insists to his son that three weeks is nothing, that once he spent three years in bed.

The film goes yet further back in time, and we see child Edward in church singing “Amazing Grace,” when suddenly he begins to grow at an unprecedented speed, growing out of his shoes in an instant, the buttons on his shirt popping off and hitting the woman in the pew in front of him. “My muscles and my bones couldn’t keep up with my body’s ambition,” Edward narrates, and we see the child Edward strapped into an old-fashioned machine on his bed, which seems to be exercising his muscles and bones.

Edward narrates that he spent the next three years in bed, reading the encyclopedia the whole time. We see child Edward reading the entry about goldfish, which states that goldfish stay small unless transferred to a larger bowl. “It occurred to me then that maybe my growth meant that I was intended for larger things,” Edward narrates.

The scene shifts and we see adult Edward playing a variety of sports—baseball, football, and basketball—all to great success. We also see him with his own landscaping business, inventing major projects for the science fair, and volunteering as a heroic firefighter, saving a dog from a burning building. Throughout all of these events, Edward’s rival, Don, watches him, frustrated that he will never measure up.

Soon, a giant begins stealing and eating animals in the town. At a town meeting, the mayor promises to do something about it, but the townspeople are getting impatient with his hedging. “I’ll do it!” yells Edward from the crowd, and he tells the mayor that he will talk to the giant himself.

Edward goes to a cave near a river where the giant lives. He encounters a vulture outside the cave before wandering into the darkness and calling into the cave. “Go away!” says the giant, but Edward insists that he wants to talk. Suddenly, the giant emerges, and Edward throws a rock at him. “Why are you here?” asks the giant, and Edward lies that the townspeople sent him as a human sacrifice. The giant walks away and sits down on a log, and tells Edward he doesn’t want to eat anyone.


The film wastes no time in introducing the central theme and dramatic tension in the film: the conflict between a longwinded and self-involved father, Edward, and his wounded son, Will, who feels neglected. While Edward seems to charm everyone around him with his tall tales and mythical outlook, his own son feels overlooked by the very things that make his father popular in the world. Before we know much about the characters, the viewer is introduced to a familial tension that accounts for the conflict.

Part of the conflict between father and son is not only about Edward’s perceived self-absorption, but also about his grasp on reality. Where Edward believes in the literal truth of his tall tales, Will’s major frustration with him is that he will not acknowledge how fantastical they are. Where Will is a realist, Edward is obsessed with the mythos of life, of projecting deep meaning onto what Will considers very rationally explicable events. Thus, the father-son conflict is at its core about the conflict between fact and fiction.

In the narrative of the film, fantasy wins out over reality. As Will remembers old stories that his father used to tell him when he was a child, we are brought back into the stories themselves, which are dramatized to their full magical extent. What starts as a whimsical but strictly realistic film turns into a Southern fairy tale, complete with haunted forests, one-eyed witches, and other fantastical creatures.

Part of how the film examines the boundary between fantasy and reality is by interpolating different time periods and accounts with one another in the narrative. One minute we are in the present day, following Will’s journey; the next we are in Will’s childhood with a tale-telling father, and after that we are inside the fable that Edward tells. By switching around so fluidly, director Tim Burton and screenwriter John August expertly blur the lines between past and present, and between fiction and truth.

One of Edward’s defining characteristics, in youth and in old age, is his remarkable bravery. This bravery is bestowed upon him when he learns from the witch how he will die, as he never fears anything that isn’t the event that he foresaw would kill him. As a result, he lives boldly and without fear of death, running into burning buildings and offering to go and talk with a hungry giant. Even in old age, fighting off cancer, Edward insists that it isn’t his time to die yet, even if Will and all those around him think that it’s the end for him.


Review về người nổi tiếng, các nhân vật lịch sử Việt Nam và Quốc tế bằng content AI.

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