Spoiler-free review of Disney’s THE BFG
For the first time, Roald Dahl’s THE BFG has been brought to the big screen, telling the story of the BFG, a giant, and Sophie, an orphan, and their adventures.
The BFG is a dream-catching giant, who is caught sharing dreams by Sophie, an insomniac orphan, who is both curious and brave (fortunately – being curious and timid wouldn’t be nearly as fun). Having been espied by Sophie, the BFG liberates Sophie from the orphanage, carrying her off to his home in Giant Country in the northernmost north of England. Although many of you have probably read “THE BFG,” there are, undoubtedly, some who haven’t, so I’m not going to reveal too much more of the details of the story. The most important elements of Dahl’s story have been carried over to the movie, including snozzcumbers, frobscottle, and the fearsome band of bean-eating giants.
The themes of the story revolve around courage and friendship. The BFG and Sophie are both courageous. Despite very frightening circumstances, they both stand up for themselves; face bullies and other intimidating people; take leaps of faith and trust, especially with each other; and stand firmly for who they are, not conforming, even if it would be easier for them, if they did.
Stephen Spielberg, a master director, has brought master storyteller Roald Dahl’s story and Quentin Blake’s illustrations to life, almost literally. The giants all look like Blake’s illustrations, but with the voice actors’ faces.
Mark Rylance does his best Joe Grundy (The Archers fans will recognize this reference – the rest of you should check out The Archers) as BFG, mastering his mispronunciations and the various words from the giants’ language that make their way into the story (snozzcumbers, human beans, whizpopping, etc.). Ruby Barnhill is young and was clearly trying hard (maybe a little too hard) to play Sophie as a less-mature 10-year-old than the character is written. For most of the film, though, Barnhill really seemed to be Sophie.
My favorite scene depicts the BFG’s dreamcatching skills. He’s brought Sophie with him and they dive into the task with the reverence and joy that dreamcatching demands. The scenery throughout the movie is lovely and never more so than in this scene.
The dream-disbursing scene is nearly as beautiful. The BFG transmits the captured dreams to children via a trumpet-like devise. What a lovely image, thanks to Dahl, that Spielberg has been able to visualize for us!
THE BFG is fun for the whole family. Children of all ages will enjoy it. It has humor and heart, heroes and villains, adventure and home-making, and, most importantly, the nostalgia of the story for parents and the discovery of the BFG (and whizpopping) for children. The ending is different from the book’s and Spielberg’s interpretation of “The BFG” is more national and less global than Dahl’s, but the story doesn’t suffer too much as a result.