When Sophie sees a giant hiding in the shadows near her orphanage, she is taken away to Giant Country to stop her from telling anyone else about him. Discovering that the giant is actually rather nice (known as ‘The BFG’, or ‘Big Friendly Giant’) which is sadly a unique trait among his kind, Sophie warms to him and begins to enjoy her new life. Learning that the other giants are taking children and eating them, the pair hatch a plan to stop them which involves the Queen of England and a whole lot of bravery.
The BFG (2016) – Director: Steven Spielberg
Running Length: 117 mins
Starring: Ruby Barnhill, Mark Rylance, Jermaine Clement
Based on the book of the same name by renowned children’s author Roald Dahl, classic novel, ‘The BFG’ is given the big screen treatment by Steven Spielberg. With his track record of fantasy movies (E.T. The Extra-terrestrial, Jurrasic Park and The Goonies to name but a few), Spielberg is more than adept at bringing this beloved children’s story to a new generation and thankfully, he has mostly accomplished this.
The acting of the leads, young Ruby Barnhill (Sophie) and Mark Rylance (voicing the BFG) is excellent, building a rapport that evolves naturally and, as two outcasts, their understanding of one another is genuinely heartwarming. Unfortunately, the focus on the other giants, led by ‘Fleshlumpeater’ (voiced by Jermaine Clement) and their persecution of The BFG somewhat takes away from the friendship that is being forged and makes the BFG barely more than a victim and the time that Sophie spends in Giant Country seems so short that the impact it should have on her is practically non-existent.
Sadly the pacing of the movie isn’t great, taking a dip in the middle, slowing the movie down when it should just be getting going and this, in turn, speeds up the ending too much and rushes the finale. However, Spielberg has certainly brought the book to life with beautiful cinematography, excellent acting and an enchanting score, bringing this classic children’s tale to life with aplomb.
IS ‘THE BFG’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
Sophie lives in an orphanage and wanders around alone late at night. She sees a huge man crouching down in the shadows outside, he sees her and, when she hides in her bed, his huge hand reaches in through the window and snatches her away.
When Sophie first arrives at the BFG’s house, she sees a huge cleaver which the giant spends time sharpening. He tells her ‘I is hungry, time for eats’ before pushing her into a huge frying pan which is full of vegetables. She is scared and convinced that she is about to be cooked and eaten although her actual distress is minimal.
Sophie talks about how she hates living in the orphanage, telling the BFG that for punishment, children are locked in a dark closet and that there are ‘rats down there’.
During an escape attempt, Sophie is grabbed by a huge hand which picks her up and dangles her over a giant’s mouth, it drops her in and she is consumed by the darkness of the mouth/throat. She is terrified throughout this ordeal and as it is unexpected, kids could be particularly scared by this scene.
The other giants are very mean to the BFG, bullying and humiliating him for fun. In one scene, they pick him up (as they are much larger than him) and thrown him around between them.
In one scene, Sophie is unsure where the BFG is but is convinced that he is nearby. In order to force him to show himself, she stands on a balcony and deliberately falls off. He inevitably catches her and she is unharmed, however some children may be encouraged to copy this, especially those who may not know the difference between reality and make-believe.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
Magical and wonderous, ‘The BFG’ is full of exciting, heartwarming and sometimes scary moments that will inevitably be a firm favourite for younger viewers. Although adults may not be quite so enamoured, it is bound to spark the imaginations and touch the hearts of the kids in the audience and, with plenty of positive messages, parents will love what it instills.
Although there are some scary scenes, particularly with the other giants, they are definitely aimed at a child’s sensibilities. As Sophie is the character that children will relate with the most, her reactions to the frightening moments are pivotal to how they will be perceived by kids. She is never overly distressed and is very brave which will comfort kids and let them know that things will never get too out of hand. Because of this, we feel this movie should be suitable for children aged six and over.
- Violence: 2/5
- Emotional Distress: 2/5 (a character sadly remembers a friend they once had who was killed and eaten by a giant)
- Fear Factor: 2/5
- Sexual Content: 0/5
- Bad Language: 0/5
- Dialogue: 1/5 (the giant’s have particularly disturbing names such as ‘Childchewer’, ‘Butcherboy’, ‘Bloodbottler’ and ‘Gizzardgulper’)
- Other Notes: Deals with themes of: finding solace in a fellow outcast, courage to face extreme danger, dealing with bullies, hoping for a better future, not giving in to peer pressure, friendship and not looking down on those who may seem less educated then you.
Words by Laura Record