The BFG- Film Review
I could barely remember the story that was read to us as kids in Grade 4 about a giant who kidnapped a little girl from the orphanage, but I do remember the enchanting feeling I would get from reading (or listening to) one of Roald Dahl’s stories, with his whimsical sense of humour.
The BFG, which stands for “Big Friendly Giant” tells a story of an unusual friendship between the pensive giant (Mark Rylance) and Sophie (Ruby Barnhill), a daring orphan girl. One night, during lights out, little Sophie sneaks her way to the orphanage’s dormroom balcony where she sees a strange figure creeping about in the shadows. Realising that he has been spotted, the strange, large creature captures Sophie through the balcony doors and, in his pocket, carries her along to his cottage in Giant Country to prevent her from telling other people what she saw.
At first, Sophie is frightened, since all the stories she has ever heard about giants are tales of violence with bone-crushing, child-eating monsters. But she soon gets to know the BFG as a gentle, caring being. For starters, he does not eat little girls for supper, unlike the other nine inhabitants of Giant Country – almost thrice his size – who push and bully the BFG around and who love to munch on “beans”, which is what they call humans.
In fact, the timid “little” giant spends his days in Dream Country, a literal dreamland where he chases after small glowing creatures and bottles them up to make the dream potions that he blows through bedroom windows of small children.
As the story unfolds, we witness the friendship that grows between these two lonesome characters and our hearts are warmed by the bond that is created between them as they face the other giants. In fact, throughout the movie, a high sense of tension is created between the two friends and the nine other giants. The troublesome giants place a serious burden on the pair, not only because they are a threat to Sophie’s safety, but because they constantly cast a shadow over the BFG’s overall peace and happiness.
Until the story comes close to its end, you barely notice that the plot moves rather slowly. It focuses on the emotion that is created between the two main characters more than the actual conflict that surrounds them. But once the story reaches what is supposed to be its climax, you become aware of how much tension has been building up slowly since the beginning. The scene where you would typically expect a little more action from the piling up of all that tension gets deflated and resolved rather quickly, almost as if we are being fast-forwarded through the least important pages of a story book. You are left feeling a little dissatisfied, asking, “is that it?”
The movie does redeem itself, though, but more in its entirety. As a whole, it successfuly captures and creates giddiness and warmth. Rylance is the star of the show as the Big Friendly Giant who has such a kind face, but with the most wistful glint in his eyes. And, of course, that Roald Dahl humour, with the Giant’s rather loose, upside-down, “rummytot” English that is an interesting contrast to his mindful demeanor. Despite the fact that the buildup kindles more excitement than the actual climax, the movie has enough wonder and charm to make your heart glow with fondness. If anything, it is a reminder of what (or who) the story is about in the first place: The Big Friendly Giant. This heart-warming character is enough to make you want to watch (or read) the story all over again.