The bfg

Adapt­ing a lit­er­ary gi­ant

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews - Jor­dan Far­ley

re­leased 22 July PG | 117 min­utes Di­rec­tor steven spiel­berg Cast Mark ry­lance, ruby Barn­hill, Pene­lope Wil­ton, Je­maine Cle­ment

The BFG re­unites Steven Spiel­berg with ET writer Melissa Mathi­son af­ter 34 years. It was worth the wait – there’s bound­less won­der to be found in this glo­ri­ump­tious Roald Dahl adap.

Af­ter or­phan So­phie (Ruby Barn­hill) catches the eye of a fig­ure as tall as a house out­side her win­dow one night, she’s whisked away to Gi­ant Coun­try. For­tu­nately for So­phie, this gi­ant (a mo-capped Mark Ry­lance) is friendly. The BFG can’t let So­phie re­turn home for risk of re­veal­ing his kind, but it’s equally dan­ger­ous for So­phie to stay in Gi­ant Coun­try, where nine blood­thirsty man-eaters inch closer to sniff­ing her out. All the while the BFG con­tin­ues his work – catch­ing and dis­tribut­ing dreams.

Adapted with care and warmth by the late Mathi­son, the script is a de­light. It tones down the dark­ness of Dahl’s prose, but it’s en­tirely faith­ful to the story. For well over an hour it’s al­most en­tirely a two-han­der, with the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the BFG and So­phie hit­ting all the right notes. The film is in no rush, with lan­guorous scenes where the two con­verse about Phiz­zwiz­ards or Frob­scot­tle. But it’s when the BFG makes it to Buck­ing­ham Palace that it soars, with a suc­ces­sion of hi­lar­i­ous sight gags as the BFG scoffs a gar­gan­tuan break­fast with the Queen.

The BFG is stun­ning to look at too, with gor­geous Vic­to­ri­ana pro­duc­tion de­sign in the Eng­land-set se­quences, while aban­doned Fer­ris wheels and colos­sal stone arch­ways punc­tu­ate Gi­ant Coun­try’s rolling fields.

The only real dis­ap­point­ment is the other nine giants: not as grotesque as they are in the book, they’re oafish buf­foons. The film also doesn’t strive for the the­matic com­plex­ity of some­thing like ET. But com­pared to the last bigscreen Dahl – Tim Bur­ton’s Char­lie And The Choco­late Fac­tory – this is in an en­tirely dif­fer­ent league.

The 1989 an­i­mated ver­sion of The BFG (with David Ja­son) has just been reis­sued on Blu-ray. It comes with “free gi­ant ears”!

Coun­try­file got in­ter­est­ing.

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