Big Fish & Begonia (2016) Movie Review: A Dream Sequence In a Movie Form

It was the time when I truly believed in ‘Magic’, that I had a dream. I also asked those questions that were asked by an old lady’s voice in the initial few scenes of the movie. The ‘Magic’ made me believe, and inspired an imaginative world that till today, I remember. In this magical world, fishes were loved a lot and were made pets. I, for some reason, saw them as magical creatures. I didn’t mind being in their presence, and surely, didn’t mind looking at them in that hug red tub that ‘magic’ and I build together. It was serene. Like, everything in life- ‘life’ the true ‘magic’, where only truth (reality) remains, and all the other delusions wither away, so did mine. I saw the dream when my mind still wanted to hold on to the deluded ‘magic’. It is than when I saw the dream of those fishes in the red tub- yes! fishes floating in the huge hall room in my house. I woke up.

Now, after years, when I was scrolling through the Internet to find a movie to watch in a pleasant, yet rainy and a nostalgic afternoon, I found beautiful red fishes swimming on my screen- I had to watch this movie.

This Chinese animated movie was released four years ago on the 8th of July. Liang Xuan and Zhang Chun have written, directed and produced this marvellous animated movie. This movie has all the elements that made it an out of this world experience. Not only did they work on the visuals, but they also invested a good deal in developing the characters.

Forewarning, this is a movie that I will not hold back myself from expressing my experience, and will be diving into the spoilers. So, if you have not watched this movie and want to experience watching it without colouring your mind with my reviews, I would suggest you go and watch it and stop reading, here.

This movie started with a voice of an old woman narrating a story of another world, which she believes exists. It gives it a feel of a story that our elders would tell us before bedtime. So, generally, the movie gets its audience in a mood of a relaxed and inquisitive state. Further, the scene of a boy floating in a surreal ocean space enhances the feel. Then, the next scene follows the dolphins in the ocean to another world beneath the it, which is where we are introduced with our protagonist, a girl named Chun. The point is that there are so many movies that depict a fantasy world and try to make it as relatable as possible, and here, this movie is no different. But, what sets it apart is its visuals, detailing, and animation. Another movie that had similarly marvelled me with its fantasy world is Avatar.

In Chun’s world, when a child reaches the age of sixteen, they go to the human world to see how their own world affects theirs. In short, it’s like an exchange program. However, like many other fantasy movies where otherworldly people are warned against humans, Chun was also warned not to get involved with humans. But, again, like many other movies where the protagonist never listens, so does she. Quite strangely, despite all the usualness and similarities, the movie manages to bond the audience with the protagonist and her friendship with Kun, the human who gave his life to save Chun’s life. I think it was usually because she is portrayed to be a character who is extremely empathetic. Thus, while watching the movie the audience start to mimic and project the emotions displayed, making them sympathetic to Chun’s character. The adventure begins when Chun decides to return the favour by giving half of her life-span to save Kun, which in turn, sets her world in chaos. From here, the rest of the movie is all about a way to bring Chun’s world to balance.

In her mission, Chun was not alone. She had a friend named, Qiu who helped her restoring the balance in their world. Another major theme that is very well highlighted is unrequited love. Now, I really liked the development of the relationship between Chun and Qiu. They had shown well how these two characters grew up together, almost like brother and sisters. However, Qiu didn’t quite have the same feelings; he had started to like Chun romantically. But, just because, they had shown the development of their relationship so well initially, the audience could relate when Chan didn’t see him the same way. Not only does Chun and Qiu’s relationship remains unfulfilled, but it’s also Chun and Kun’s relationship that remains unfulfilled. Kun who was living like a fish in Chun’s world, when returns to his own world, would forget his journey and friendship with Chun. However, Chun is showed to be still hopeful and forwarding her hand to Kun when they reach the human world but remains unclear if Kun remembers anything of their journey and friendship.

The theme of self-sacrifice is quite prominent in the movie, which gives it an extreme and exciting quality. But, at the same time, the message here is not self-sacrifice for no cause, it is about rising above again, and coming out on the other side as a phoenix- the symbol of transformation, change and regeneration. It is like, Liang Xuan and Zhang Chun made this movie keeping in mind that there is not going to be another chance or opportunity to make a movie like this. By choosing a theme like life and death, a topic that would never go out of style, Liang Xuan and Zhang Chun, made this movie evergreen. I can visualise, that even ten years later children and adults alike would sit and watch this animated marvel.

Apart from the main protagonists, you will witness some interesting and strange looking characters, which for me is always refreshing. However, I felt that some of the other side characters were underdeveloped. One such instance is the elders of the village who were suspecting that something is not right with the environment of their world, like, untimely snow and salty rains. But, these side character, just kept on suspecting and didn’t go much to create more tension. So, I think that if they had shown that the elders were gaining upon Chan’s mission to save Kun, there would have been more excitement and tension, which I felt was missing. Further, later on in the movie, they had relied only on Qiu’s immature attempt at opening the portal to the human world. So, the aspect of the environmental changes felt to be a little underplayed and unnecessary. However, the animation was so beautiful that I didn’t even mind such minute flaws in the plot.

In the end, Qiu sacrifices his life to restore Chan’s life and, also find, a way for her and Kun to return to the human world. However, Qiu, here also gets the shorter end of the stick. All the characters who die come back in one form or another, but when Qiu dies, he gets no ticket to return. Though to keep the consistency of the theme, he promises Chun that they will meet again someday. Well, to be honest, I like when a few things are left to the imagination, so probably, they do meet. At least, they do in my imaginative world. Yes! The child inside me is still a sucker for “happy ending”.

This movie is a great watch, and I highly recommend everyone to watch it. Further, I am sure children would love watching this animation marvel. So, if you have kids around, enjoy this movie with them.

Instead of adding a trailer for this movie, I am adding a video of the making of this movie as I found it to be more inspiring:

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Writer: Deepika Bhaduri
About: Movie Anatomie

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