Without entirely realizing the theme or the local connections, Tucker and I watched two great father-son movies with Chapel Hill connections on this rainy Sunday.
Danny Wallace’s Big Fish as interpreted by Tim Burton is dazzling and funny. The father here is a teller of tales which are nearly true and to everyone but his son better than the truth. they are mythic and aspire to more than the father has actually achieved which drives his son now a reporter in france up the wall. the son tries to get at the truth — the wrong truth it turns out — until the last moments of his father’s life when he must create the final mythic tale for his father. then the funeral comes and we see that there are pieces of fact among the stories. just pieces but enough to give the myths meanings and to make them more than just fantasy.
October Sky, an anagram as it turns out for Rocket Boys the title of the memoir by Homer Hickham, has an appearance by Chapel Hill’s Mark J. Miller as the alcoholic stepfather of one of the boys. The tension in the story of Hickham and his friends is between Hickham’s father who is secure only in his work in the coal mines and is threatened by his son’s going interest and success in rocketry. The father has his reasons: people are dying in the mines, the local mine isn’t producing up to the expected levels, the United Mine Workers are calling for a strike, there are layoffs called for, and the town, a company owned town, might close down with the mine. Still the son must follow his dream of creating rockets with his friends and of reaching beyond the small coaltown to some other larger world — to be as it were a big fish.