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"Stories are our dreams, really,” says actor Ewan McGregor, who plays the adventurous young Edward Bloom in Tim Burton's fable-like family drama Big Fish. "That's why we tell stories. They're kind of what makes us interesting and connects us with one another from generation to generation. Without them all we'd be left with is politics and supermarkets. And what kind of a world would that be?”

Novelist Daniel Wallace says he was inspired to write Big Fish, A Story of Mythic Proportions in part by his own charismatic father and the fact that he had recently become a dad himself. "There are many similarities between my father and Edward Bloom. Like Edward, my father was an extremely charismatic man who sometimes used his charisma to keep people at a distance. It would appear as though he was being intimate with you when he was really just being charming."

The title of Wallace's novel about Bloom's adventures came from one of his father's favorite expressions. "Throughout his entire life, my father talked about leaving the small town in which he was born for the big city, because, as he put it, he didn't want to be a 'big fish in a little pond.' So he left Cullman, Alabama, and became an international businessman. But the title has other meanings as well. A fish can be real slippery; like Edward Bloom, you can never really get a hold of him."

"I also wanted to write the story of an ordinary man's life as though it was mythic," he continues. "And as I pieced the stories together, a whole life emerged, a life that was compelling and rich, magnificent and meaningful."

In his stories, Wallace consciously sought to pay homage to a noble Southern tradition, the interweaving of truth and fiction, fact and exaggeration. "Edward is a compulsive story teller and that's what Southern literature is about," says Wallace, "story telling, almost for its own sake. Folk tales and tall tales demand that the truth be stretched, a little or a lot. It's sleight of hand, a form of magic -- possibly the only real magic many of us have an opportunity to be a part of in our adult lives. It's the magic a child experiences while growing up, one that most of us unfortunately lose. Novels and movies bring us in touch with that sense of wonder."

Yet, Wallace never envisioned Big Fish being translated into a movie and it required the imagination of screenwriter John August (Go, Charlie's Angels) to reshape the stories into a cohesive and emotionally compelling cinematic narrative. "Daniel's tales had so many fantastic and distinct elements,” says August. "The father/son conflict is both universal and, at the same time, particular and unique. There's also a great love story and an almost Homerian odyssey filled with incredible adventures. The book goes in so many different directions I knew it would be hard to reshape it as a movie, but that made it all the more exciting to try.”

When Wallace and August met, the author imparted some of the secrets behind his stories, about how he'd borrowed from such elements as classic Greek mythology such as the labors of Hercules, as well as his research on American fables that have been passed down from generation to generation. "The kind of stories we're telling in Big Fish are almost like rituals,” August explains. "They're tales that have been told hundreds of times, not merely to recount what happened, but what should have happened. They're extreme versions of life, superlative versions of the way you'd like life to be. Edward has a need to tell these stories continually so that everybody will remember them and, in the process, remember him.”

Though Bloom's hyperbolic recollections seem to be figments of an overactive imagination, there are elements of truth in them as well, August continues. "His son Will (Billy Crudup) is searching for the truth of what his father did, and because he's a journalist, he's looking for the factual truth, which is

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