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| 23 June 2016 | Reply

Directed by Stephen Spielberg
Starring Ruby Barnhill, Mark Rylance, Rebecca Hall, Penelope Wilton
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar


Some 34 years after making E.T. Stephen Spielberg gets the band back together (Spielberg directs a script by the late Melissa Mathison, whilst John Williams scores the music) for his take on Roald Dahl’s children’s favourite The BFG.

Spielberg’s setup is abrupt: barely are we introduced to ten-year-old Sophie (played by the precocious Ruby Barnhill) in the orphanage she lives in, before she sneaks a peek at the BFG (Big Friendly Giant), who without warning reaches in through a window, scoops her up, and bounds off to Giant Country with her.

What follows is a slow bonding of the two unlikely friends, who find more in common than expected: a sad, headstrong girl, and a lonely and out of place giant, they are both ostracised by their kind and unwilling loners, and undoubted kindred spirits.

Visually stunning and full of Dahl’s playful jibber-jabbery take on the language, The BFG is magical entertainment, to be sure – even though it never quite attains the instant classic status that E.T. did all those years ago.

That’s not entirely Spielberg’s fault. For starters, special effect wizardry has progressed so much that seeing creatures like E.T. and The BFG on screen is not the incredible reveal it was in 1982. Secondly, such tech is used in every second advertisement and TV show and video game, dissipating the magic of movies themselves. Everything about the way we consume films – legally or otherwise, streamed or downloaded on phones, tablets, laptops, televisions as well as in theatres – similarly has changed: we simply process them differently. Now we sit back and demand to be impressed rather than bring a sense of wonder with us.

Spielberg has still created an endearing addition to his canon despite all this, and a scene where The BFG and Sophie meet The Queen (played with humour by Penelope Wilton) is simply marvellous, controlled with all the deftness which Spielberg is capable of at his best – farts and all.

His exploration of the importance of dreams is one of his specialties, and he allows Sophie to discover that even a lost little girl like herself can have dreams come true as she discovers that size is no measure of courage, and that being excellent to each other is of paramount importance.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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