Reviewer's Rating 5 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
Big Fish DVD (2004)

Wacky director Tim Burton made quite a splash with comedy drama Big Fish, arguably "the finest film of his career". Critics adored it, and so too did millions of moviegoers, although it only landed a single nomination for Danny Elfman's circus score come Oscar time - and even that one got away (nobody mention that film about the Rings). Part family drama, part candy-coloured fantasy, this movie makes a spectacular transfer to the digital format, accompanied by a colourful carnival of extras.

An Elephant You'll Never Forget

Big Fish DVD screengrab

Seven fun-packed featurettes are split into two sub-categories: A Character's Journey, and The Filmmaker's Path. Both selections are jammed with cast and crew interviews, plus reams of behind-the-scenes footage. With so much activity on set, these demand repeat viewing. Listen carefully, for instance, during the Fairytale World featurette and you'll hear Ewan McGregor maintaining his Deep Southern drawl between takes.

A Guide To Good Grooming

On top of the obligatory investigations into the use of special effects and (stunning) art design, The Author's Journey lends a much broader perspective. Tracing Big Fish back to the spark of its creation, and running at almost ten minutes, it's a rare opportunity to explore the mind of a novelist, in this case Daniel Wallace. Screenwriter John August also gets a chance to talk about the ways in which he embellished Wallace's book, and why. Hugely impressed by the final product, Wallace likens the process of adaptation to having your children taken away and "dressed in different clothes". Crucially, he adds: "But I like the clothes."

Though perhaps not quite as articulate, director Tim Burton nonetheless delivers a friendly and forthcoming commentary. Interviewer Mark Salisbury helps to pull together Burton's scattered thoughts, and laughs along with his blithe observations. Among these, he notes: "Whether an ape or a witch, a woman's makeup always takes longer." In case you hadn't already guessed, Burton is referring to his significant other, actress Helena Bonham Carter. As well as these philosophical musings, there are plenty of technical titbits which together provide a clear window into the director's unique sensibility.

Rich with perspective and rosy-hued charm, Big Fish is quite simply a great catch on DVD.

  • Audio commentary by director Tim Burton
  • Edward Bloom At Large featurette
  • Amos At The Circus featurette
  • Fathers And Sons featurette
  • Tim Burton: Storyteller featurette
  • A Fairytale World featurette
  • Creature Features featurette
  • The Author's Journey featurette
  • The Finer Points - Trivia Quiz
  • Selection of trailers for Big Fish and upcoming home releases
  • Technical Information

    2 Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1 Animated, with music 1.85:1 (anamorphic)
    28 Multiple languages English, Italian, Hungarian
    Multiple languages All of the special features are subtitled 15

    End Credits

    Director: Tim Burton

    Writer: John August

    Stars: Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, Helena Bonham Carter, Alison Lohman

    Genre: Comedy, Drama

    Length: 124 minutes

    Cinema: 23 January 2004

    DVD: 07 June 2004

    Country: USA