We finally caught up with Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s much-loved children’s book The BFG, from a script by his E.T. writer Melissa Mathison.
It was not a book we had read if we were honest, nor had we seen the previous and much-loved UK animated TV version of the tale, with the voice of David Jason, but we had heard so many people say that this was a classic Spielberg film, we gave it a try.
The story concerns a girl called Sophie (Ruby Barnhill), who is awake at night in an orphanage, following the death of her parents which we learn later in the film. Many tell of loud noises and evil creatures in the night, around Midnight, but she has worked out this is nearer 3 am.
On one of these nights, when she is normally in hiding under her blankets, she is awoken by drunks leaving the pub, when she tells them to be quiet she catches a glimpse that scares her.
We learn that what she saw is a Giant, who in fear of being revealed and hunted down, kidnaps Sophie and takes her to Giant country. We learn that the Giant (Mark Rylance) is not like other giants, in that he does not want to eat his capture, in fact, he is the opposite, but kind and scared of other giants, so much so that Sophie names him BFG (as the Big Friendly Giant).
The BFG is smaller than other giants and collects dreams, he uses one of these to give Sophie a nightmare, to warn her that if she runs away she will come across other giants, led by the ghastly Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement) who consider human beings (or beans, as the BFG calls them) as food.
Despite this dream, Sophie now understands she is safe with the BFG who is considerably smaller than the other giants, and he prefers a diet of Snozzcumbers and the strange fizzy drink Frobscottle, which unlike human fizzy drinks, bubbles go downwards meaning if you drink too much, rather than Burp, it causes you to release green gas from your bottom =)
The 2 are having lots of fun until Fleshlumpeater and the other giants invade the BFG home for help with a boo-boo (a splinter) whilst here, the giants smell Sophie and attack the BFG to find her.
We learn that because he is so much smaller, BFG is constantly bullied by the bigger giants and his life is a lonely existence, especially as he blames himself for another child being eaten by them whilst in his care, and tries to return Sophie to the Orphanage, but she refuses to leave him.
Sophie comes up with a plan to get the Queen (Penelope Wilton) to help the BFG and rid his land of the nasty bullying giants. The sequences at the palace are a joy as the Queen’s maid, Mary (Rebecca Hall) and butler Tibbs (Rafe Spall) try to arrange dining arrangements for the giant. There is also plenty of fun as The BFG shares his Frobscottle with them, leaving The Queen and all to emit their green odours from their rears, including her corgis!
The sequences at the palace are a joy as the Queen’s maid, Mary (Rebecca Hall) and butler Tibbs (Rafe Spall) try to arrange dining arrangements for the giant. There is also plenty of fun as The BFG shares his Frobscottle with them, leaving The Queen and all to emit their green odours from their rears, including her corgis!
With the aid of Tibbs, who leads the Queen’s army, they plan to move the bullying Giants away from humans and let the BFG & Sophie live happily ever after.
In a world of comic book heroes and all other films aimed at this audience almost all being rated a 12, this is a film that the whole family can enjoy, the nasty giants whilst threatening are never too scary, and the film really shows the great imagination Dahl had.
There are many great set pieces which we have come to know and love from Spielberg movies, including a sequence involving Giants using cars as roller skates. The cast are exception from Barnhill as Sophie and Clement as the leader of the bad giants, but it is again Rylance, who like Bridge of Spies, puts in a truly outstanding performance for his director (the 2 will team again for The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara as well as Ready Player One, which having loved the book, we can not wait to see)
The CGI and special effects to make the Giant, his food, drink and world are exceptional and the film also gives a sense of security from yet another fantastic score by John Williams. Whilst not as good as Spielberg’s E.T, Hook or a Jurassic Park, this is a real joy and if you like his or Dahl’s work, it is well worth a watch.
You can watch the trailer here:
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