Father's Day is coming up this Sunday which means I’ll be getting together with family in Omaha to honor my father, Walter B. “Jack” Lehmer (pictured). It’s a time for reminiscing and sharing family stories over some freshly grilled Stoysich sausage, my famous Nut Tree potato salad and some icy beverages and root beer floats.
It’s also time for my annual viewing of “Big Fish,” the Tim Burton film that I regard as the ultimate father-son movie. For those of you unfamiliar with the story line, it revolves around the relationship between Edward Bloom (played by Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor) and his estranged son, Will (Billy Crudup).
Edward Bloom, a former traveling salesman and pompous purveyor of tall tales, is dying and his wife (Jessica Lange) summons Will, a journalist now living in Paris with his pregnant wife (Marion Cotillard). Edward and Will haven’t spoken in years because Will resents his dad’s flamboyant storytelling, which he views as pure fantasy.
Will just wants the truth; Edward insists his stories are the truth.
“We’re storytellers, both of us,” Edward tells Will. “I speak mine out; you write yours down. Same thing.”
To Will’s wife, Edward explains his storytelling style: “Most men, they’ll tell you stories straight out. It won’t be complicated, and it won’t be interesting, either.’
The film, which relates Edward’s life story in that surreal Burton style, deals with Will’s search for the truth of his father’s life. What he discovers and how he reconciles truth with fantasy is at the heart of the film’s masterful conclusion.
Every family’s story has elements of truth and fantasy. They’re both important in documenting a family legacy. Don’t ignore either one.