Best one can make of this stunning and frequently incomprehensible fable Big Fish Begonia tells of dolphingirl Chun who sacrifices her immortality to rescue a human boy traveling back and forth between the world of men and the mystical realm of the Others which are connected by enormous whirlpools. That dynamic is further complicated by Chuns childhood friend Qiu who is willing to trade his own life for her benefit resulting in an elaborate supernatural love triangle between human beings and those with magical powers. As it is Big Fish Begonia throws open the door to a parallel dimension loosely based on Daoist proverbs and descriptions found in Chinas ancient Classic of Mountains and Seas. Early on an elderly narrator attempts to explain a history of the world in which the souls of human beings are embodied as great fish except when the humans misbehave and are somehow transformed into underworld rats. Life is relatively peaceful for the Others who look forward to the day they are allowed to venture over into the human world although theyre strictly advised not to interact with the humans which is exactly what Chun does of course approaching a fishing boat in her new form as a brilliant red dolphin. Feeling some sort of connection with or perhaps just a curiosity toward this stranger Chun follows him to shore swimming in for a closer look. In doing so she gets caught in a net and the young fisherman must swim out to rescue her. The courageous human dies in the process but his gesture inspires Chun to seek out various supernatural entities with whom she can bargain for his life. Weirdly in the human world Chun takes fish form whereas in her native domain she appears as a girl while the dead man is reborn as a white fish with a single horn in the center of his forehead technically shes a dolphin while hes a whale of some sort but why quibble when its all makebelieve anyway?. One of the things that differentiates the story of Big Fish Begonia from those counted in the United States and Japan is the lack of an openly evil villain. Here natural or supernatural circumstances such as snakes on the heads and giant winds that extend to the sky represent the greatest threat but instead of thinking about danger Big Fish Begonia celebrates the instinct of the response characters in a selfless way Chun Kun and Qiu are constantly offering their own lives in exchange for the others and in doing so they defy the notion of mortality. Theirs is an incredibly affirmative journey which unfolds like a waking dream on the way to a state of transcendental happiness. It could almost be the myth of the creation of a religion lost a long time ago which is appropriate considering how the belief in potential was previously not tapped into Chinese animation. This marvelous and mindblowing animated feature surpasses anything cartoon China has produced before in terms of sheer beauty even as it defies interpretation. Perhaps such a film is best experienced in a state of delirious semiconsciousness in which its mindbending imagery is free to wash over the imagination in strange and surreal ways. My personal score is 100 for the beautiful animation the landscapes that are shown and the moral that leaves.
100 /100
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