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Author of ‘Big Fish’ still enjoys movie adaptation

Wallace discusses book’s adaptation

Photo: ‘Big Fish’ still resonates (Bailey Seitter)
After Varsity Theatre's viewing of Big Fish, Daniel Wallace, the author of the novel, answers questions from the audience. Wallace, who is a UNC professor, said that main character Edward Bloom was loosely based off his father, who is "funny, charming and larger than life." On the right is Bill Ferris, the Q&A moderator.

Daniel Wallace said turning his novel “Big Fish” into a movie was nothing short of a metamorphosis.

After a showing of the film at the Varsity Theatre on Tuesday, Wallace spoke about his reaction to the movie, which he said he never anticipated while writing the book.

“Turning ‘Big Fish’ into a coherent narrative isn’t easy,” said Wallace, an English professor at UNC.

“It really doesn’t lend itself to being a movie.”

He said he was pleased with the 2003 movie, saying the book’s transformation into a film paralleled the change his character undergoes in the story.

The story follows a man as he discovers more about his estranged, dying father’s past. It details a series of legends and myths about the father’s life and his son’s gradual realization that those exaggerated stories served a greater purpose.

Wallace said books and films both have advantages over the other.

“In this case, the movie is very different from the book, but all the while maintaining the spiritual undertones of the story,” he said.

Wallace said the ending was his favorite part of both the book and the movie.

“The book I like because I didn’t know what the ending was going to be until I got to it,” he said. “The ending of the movie is very emotional and beautiful. It’s like a death with dignity.”

He said he liked the part of the film in which he played a professor.

“I was in it for about nine seconds,” he said.

Wallace also said he was pleased with the movie’s main cast.

“Whatever happens is great,” he said. “That was my feeling throughout this whole process.”

Freshman Jordan Hale said he attended the screening and discussion because he wanted to hear Wallace’s thoughts on the movie.

“I’m always interested in how artists feel about interpretations of their work,” said Hale.

Tyler Confoy, a freshman, said she was shocked by how accepting Wallace was of his book’s film adaptation, which she had seen before.

“I liked how he approved of it,” she said. “I was surprised by how non-critical he seemed.”

Wallace said he drew inspiration for his characters from his experiences. His father was the inspiration for the father in the book, as both had charming personalities.

He said while his character drew others near with his charisma, his ability to appeal to anyone made him mysterious and distanced him from his son.

“My own father was like that. He could be anything,” Wallace said. “He’s kind of a fish like that. He’s slippery.”

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