7/02/2004

Can Fantasy and Reality Co-exist?

A recent viewing of the critically acclaimed film, "Big Fish," has propelled me into a whirlwind of thought. The Tim Burton film, which which chonicles the tale of larger-than-life Ewan McGreggor, may suggest the actual duality of reality -- fantasy and reality, it seems, may not be two seperate realms at all, but actually co-existing entities in each man's life. The film begins with a son's recollection of his father's (McGreggor's) embellished (but none the less charming) life tales. Convinced that these stories are, in aggregate, a colossal lie, he preemptively assumes that he does not know his father. By the end of the film, however, the son reaches the conclusion that his father's tall tales do not, in fact, shield his true persona. Rather, by shaping his father, these tales have grown to define his father -- the fantasy IS reality, and reality, the fantasy. To quote the film, "a man tells his stories so much that eventually he becomes the stories." Here, Burton's suggestion is clear and commendable. In modern society, we are frequently berated for having "our heads in the clouds." But is a "reality check" always the best solution. For Burton, the answer seems an emphatic "no." To discredit the role of fantasy in life is to discredit the importance of creativity, self-belief and the imagination. If fantasy sharpens our creative capacities, and in turn enhances the nature of our very selves and our relationships with others, could it then be (even if paradoxicaaly) an extension of reality? From the crossroads of fantasy and reality, Burton whispers a simple "yes."