By Ángela Padrón.
Each year, many movies and plays are produced that are based on literature. In fact, more than two thirds of movies nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award have been derived from a book. So it’s no surprise that in the last year, several movies came out based on children’s books. One of the authors whose written words have come to life the most is Roald Dahl. From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to The Fantastic Mr. Fox, to Matilda and James and the Giant Peach, Dahl’s fantastic and whimsical stories have shined on the big screen and stage for decades.
In 2016, his beloved book The BFG became a motion picture produced by Disney and directed by Steven Spielberg. The story revolves around Sophie, a young girl who lives in an orphanage. At night, during the “witching hour,” while everyone is asleep, Sophie stays awake, listening to the sounds of animals and mysterious things lurking in the night. One night, she looks out the window and sees a tall black figure that resembles a man. The figure sees Sophie and turns toward her. He reaches his large hand into her bedroom window and snatches her. The giant carries Sophie off to Giant Country, where he lives with his even more giant, man-eating brothers who treat the giant poorly. Sophie wants to go home but the Giant says she can’t; he believes she will tell others what she saw and then humans will come hunting for the giants. So Sophie must stay with the Giant, who comes to be known as the Big Friendly Giant, or BFG.
The BFG has to hide Sophie from his siblings, who will want to eat her if she’s found. The BFG eats disgusting, cucumber-like vegetables called snozzcumbers to avoid eating people. He also drinks frobscottle, which is a sweet soda that causes major flatulence from bubbles traveling in the reverse direction. While the other giants go out each night to eat humans, the BFG travels to deliver dreams that he catches in jars and pours into a large trumpet to blow into the ears of children. Sophie and the BFG concoct a plan to rid the world of the man-eating giants, but the BFG is afraid of them. Sophie convinces the BFG to create a dream for the Queen of England that would show the Queen just what the mean giants are doing to her fellow countrymen. The Queen sends her army to Giant Country to capture the mean giants, and everyone learns to accept the BFG. In the end, Sophie lives with the Queen while the BFG returns to Giant Country. However, with his big ears he can hear anything from miles away, especially Sophie talking to him.
Sophie teaches the BFG to find his inner strength and the courage to face his fears, while the BFG shows Sophie a fatherly love that she has never had. The movie does a good job of following the main points of the book, but does take some liberties with the plot for the big screen. For example, in the movie it is suggested that Sophie is not the first child to live with the BFG. There was a boy that the BFG took and kept with him in his cave. The boy even gave him the name BFG. However, one day the boy disappeared because one of the other giants ate him. The BFG never forgave himself and he becomes overprotective of Sophie so she doesn’t face the same fate. Another difference is the ending. In the book, the Queen and people of England build the BFG a castle with a cottage next door for Sophie. Also, in the book the mean giants are dropped into a pit that is so deep they could never climb out, whereas in the movie the giants are dropped into the sea and have to swim to an island in the middle of nowhere with no chance to escape.
The BFG is not just a story about friendship and bravery; watching the movie itself is also like watching a masterpiece in motion. An animated version of The BFG was released in 1989, but Spielberg’s 2016 version blows it away. Spielberg did a masterful job of using CGI special effects to create the colorful scenery and the large giants based on the movements of the actors. Whether or not you’re a fan of Roald Dahl’s stories, The BFG is a heartwarming tale that is a definite must-see.