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Review: The BFG


This first paragraph was spoken by a four year-old when asked about The BFG:

The big giant, he was a big friendly giant. And there was a girl, she was lost, she had lost her mum. When she got out of bed the friendly giant was there. The girl was scared of all the giants, the big ones, and he grabbed her, and she got into one giant’s mouth, she was scared again. The girl went in the party, and had some tea, and a cake, and strawberry. The BFG had tea too, they had a table with a blanket too. The party was at a big house I think. It was a mum’s house, she was the queen. I didn’t like the other giants, all off them, they did bad things. I don’t remember, but they smelled bad. The BFG and the girl were happy. There were pineapples everywhere at the end, they fell on the giants. I think it was funny.

When the daughter asked me what I liked about the film I told her briefly about when I was a young boy, I read many Roald Dahl stories, including The BFG, which is one of those that stood out for me. I showed her just some of the drawings by Quentin Blake from the original books. Thinking back though about Dahl’s work, it is hard to shake off the simplistic excellence of Blake’s illustrations, so a live action version of Dahl is always going to trouble me slightly somewhere. That was a tougher prospect to explain to a four year-old as you can imagine. The daughter ought to be on the road to familiarity now with Roald Dahl, given she also dressed all blue as Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Roald Dahl Day recently.


As an avid Dahl kid, a film version was always going to interest me – adult or child. And with Steven Spielberg behind the camera it had a great chance of satisfying. The casting of Mark Rylance as the BFG was also pretty genius. Whether or not animation may be the preferred genre for Dahl’s books is for another debate perhaps – given the visual splendor, for example, of Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox (which I have read to the daughter, and was my favorite as a child). The BFG film version is not ruined by my own nostalgic ideals though, in fact it is a fairly comprehensible adaptation, and thoroughly entertaining adventure.


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