Big Fish script
Big Fish (2003)
Synopsis: When Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) becomes ill, his son, William (Billy Crudup), travels to be with him. William has a strained relationship with Edward because his father has always told exaggerated stories about his life, and William thinks he's never really told the truth. Even on his deathbed, Edward recounts fantastical anecdotes. When William, who is a journalist, starts to investigate his father's tales, he begins to understand the man and his penchant for storytelling.

FADE IN:

A RIVER.

We’re underwater, watching a fat catfish swim along.

This is The Beast.

EDWARD (V.O.)

There are some fish that cannot be

caught. It’s not that they’re fasteror stronger than other fish. They’rejust touched by something extra. Call

it luck. Call it grace. One such fish

was The Beast.

The Beast’s journey takes it past a dangling fish hook,

baited with worms. Past a tempting lure, sparkling in the

sun. Past a swiping bear claw. The Beast isn’t worried.

EDWARD (V.O.)(cont’d)

By the time I was born, he was alreadya legend. He’d taken more hundred-

dollar lures than any fish in Alabama.

Some said that fish was the ghost ofHenry Walls, a thief who’d drowned inthat river 60 years before. Others

claimed he was a lesser dinosaur, leftover from the Cretaceous period.

INT. WILL’S BEDROOM - NIGHT (1973)

WILL BLOOM, AGE 3, listens wide-eyed as his father EDWARDBLOOM, 40’s and handsome, tells the story. In every gesture,

Edward is bigger than life, describing each detail withabsolute conviction.

EDWARD:

I didn't put any stock into suchspeculation or superstition. All I

knew was I’d been trying to catch thatfish since I was a boy no bigger than

you.

(closer)

And on the day you were born, that wasthe day I finally caught him.

EXT. CAMPFIRE - NIGHT (1977)

A few years later, and Will sits with the other INDIAN GUIDESas Edward continues telling the story to the tribe.

2.

EDWARD:

Now, I’d tried everything on it:

worms, lures, peanut butter, peanutbutter-and-cheese. But on that day Ihad a revelation: if that fish was the

ghost of a thief, the usual bait wasn’tgoing to work. I would have to use

something he truly desired.

Edward points to his wedding band, glinting in the firelight.

LITTLE BRAVE:

(confused)

Your finger?

Edward slips his ring off.

EDWARD:

Gold.

While the other boys are rapt with attention, Will looksbored. He’s heard this story before.

EDWARD:

I tied my ring to the strongest linethey made -- strong enough to hold up abridge, they said, if just for a fewminutes -- and I cast upriver.

INT. BLOOM FRONT HALL - NIGHT (1987)

Edward is chatting up Will’s pretty DATE to the homecomingdance. She is enjoying the story, but also the force ofEdward’s charisma. He’s hypnotizing.

EDWARD (cont’d)

The Beast jumped up and grabbed itbefore the ring even hit the water.

And just as fast, he snapped cleanthrough that line.

WILL, now 17 with braces, is fuming and ready to leave. His

mother SANDRA -- from whom he gets his good looks andpracticality -- stands with him at the door.

EDWARD:

You can see my predicament. My weddingring, the symbol of fidelity to mywife, soon to be the mother of mychild, was now lost in the gut of anuncatchable fish.

3.

ON WILL AND SANDRA

WILL:

(low but insistent)

Make him stop.

His mother pats him sympathetically, then adjusts his tie.

WILL’S DATE

What did you do?

EDWARD:

I followed that fish up-river and downriver

for three days and three nights,

until I finally had him boxed in.

Will regards his father with exasperated contempt.

EDWARD:

With these two hands, I reached in andsnatched that fish out of the river. I

looked him straight in the eye. And I

made a remarkable discovery.

INT. TINY PARIS RESTAURANT (LA RUE 14°) - NIGHT (1998)

WILL, now 28, sits with his gorgeous bride JOSEPHINE. This

is their wedding reception, crowded with their friends andfamily. They should be joyful, but Will is furious.

Edward has the floor, ostensibly for a toast. The room is

cozy and drunk.

EDWARD:

This fish, the Beast. The whole time

we were calling it a him, when in factit was a her. It was fat with eggs,

and was going to lay them any day.

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John August

John August (born August 4, 1970) is an American screenwriter and film director, and host of the Scriptnotes podcast along with Craig Mazin. more…

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