What’s more important: the story of our life or the stories we tell that make up our lives? If you don’t think there’s a difference, you’re probably much like Billy Crudup’s reporter who’s spent a lifetime being exasperated by his father. Edward Bloom Sr. (played wonderfully by both Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney) lived a life of stories; stories he delighted in telling. Were they tall tales, were they exaggerations, were they flat-out lies? To Crudup that’s all that mattered and to Finney he couldn’t see why the question mattered in the slightest.
Bloom is dying and Crudup is taking one more stab at trying to reconcile the truth of his father’s life. A life, Bloom has always confidently asserted, that he knew the precise end-date of. Delirious, panicky in the hospital he pulls his son close in a frenzy and confesses he lied; he doesn’t know how the story ends. Tell him! Tell him, please, how ends the story of this life. Feeling horrified and ill-equipped Edward Jr. launches into the tale and then it gains steam, body, characterization, warmth, reunions, good-byes and love. It is a beautiful climax to one of the best movies of all-time; certainly Burton’s masterpiece.
This film has tremendous personal significance to me. It is not at all an exaggeration to say that this film changed my life. I’m both, you see, I’m Bloom the elder wanting desperately to live life through stories, but saddled with too much of Bloom the junior to allow myself the freedom. I also have had at times wanted to throttle my father for lack of understanding, so that part of the film rings home. That’s not why it’s the most important movie of my life. In his story both Blooms find wonderful women to whom they dedicate their lives with a love so powerful that it stops time and defies gravity. This is the movie I took my wife to on our first date, 12 years ago. The story she’s written upon my life has transformed me. I will never be the same for taking her to this movie. It transcends a “favorite scene”. This was the most significant film of my life and one I will love as long as I breathe. She’ll likely never read this, but if she does, thank you, honey for filling my film with magic and wonder from the very first time we went out. I love you.