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BFG, The


Stars: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Jermaine Clement, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall, Bill Hader, Adam Godley

Director: Steven Spielberg

In his second collaboration with the (late) E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison, Spielberg has had the extremely good fortune to have a confirmed children’s fantasy classic – Roald Dahl’s novel The BFG (published in 1982, the year when E.T. was released) – as source material for this largely enchanting family fantasy.

Where Dahl had a sharp edge – his giants (although not the BFG, of course) are unashamed cannibal eaters of “human beans”- Spielberg and Mathison inject nastiness, diluting cuteness, into their storytelling, presumably with box-office appeal in mind.

“It’s the witching hour when the boogey man comes out”, we’re informed at the start by precocious 10-year-old Sophie (delightfully played without any irritating hint of “I-want-to-be-an actor precociousness" by young newcomer Ruby Barnhill) who, unable to sleep in her Victorian-style London orphanage.

Looking out of the window onto Spielberg’s somewhat Dickensian view of London, Barnhill sees the eponymous giant – endearingly played, despite being essentially a creation of movie magic, by Mark Rylance, who snatches her out of the window and carries her off to his home in Giant Country…

Despite finding herself in a frying pan, Barnhill soon comes to realise she has her first real friend in the Big Friendly Giant who, unlike the gang of nasty giants, does not feed on humans but rather prefers – as depicted - nasty-tasting “snozzcumbers”. So
the odd couple bond and she ends up accompanying him on his mission of capturing dreams to blow into the minds of sleeping humans.

Alan Frank

UK/USA/Canada 2016. UK Distributor: entertainmentOne . Colour.
112 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 20 Nov 2016

DVD review