Orphans who can’t sleep sometimes get into trouble. Just ask Sophie.
One night about 3am, she pokes her head out through the curtains to see what’s happening outside her London orphanage. She thinks she heard something. She knows she should stay inside. She’s scared. It is, after all, the “witching hour,” she says to herself.
Sophie glimpses a huge figure lumbering through London’s side-street shadows. He catches a glimpse of her glimpsing him.
Just like that, Sophie finds herself in the giant’s clutches as he sprints out of the city, through the countryside and into a dank-but-surprisingly-well-furnished cave far to the north. She’s certain she’s going to be eaten, of course. After all, that’s what giants do with children, right?
The feisty little lass is determined to escape her imprisonment, to slip her captor’s clutches when he least expects it. But that’s easier said than done as Sophie soon learns, there are nine other giants lurking nearby. Giants who do like to eat children. Giants with names like Bloodbottler and Fleshlumpeater. Giants who aren’t nearly as friendly—and much bigger—than the one she decides she kind of likes after all. So much so that she soon names him BFG, for Big Friendly Giant.
It’s true that The BFG begins on a rather ominous and foreboding note: a giant kidnapping a too-curious-for-her-own-good little girl in London. But the proceedings quickly take a tender turn as spunky Sophie and her enormous captor become friends. Despite their obvious differences, they’re kindred spirits of a sort: Sophie has no love for the orphanage where she lived, while BFG has no love for his bloodthirsty brethren who continually taunt and harass him. They’re both loners, and in each other’s company they discover a delightful kinship.
BFG does his best to protect and hide Sophie from the other giants. In turn, Sophie inspires her giant friend to stand up for himself in the face of the other giants’ taunts and abuse. With Sophie’s encouragement, BFG makes a number of courageous choices instead of just meekly submitting to his peers’ bullying.
Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of this Roald Dahl children’s classic is a delightfully tender story contrasted with the spectre of a rather macabre fate: children being eaten by giants. Thankfully, the fairy-tale proceedings here deliver much more of the former and just a hint of the latter.
There’s some action and moments of mild peril for Sophie and BFG—enough that the littlest viewers might find these sequences a bit on the intense side. But this lovely tale really is neither an action-adventure movie nor a suspenseful narrative. Instead, it’s a “love” story of sorts between a lonely little girl and the lonely “little” giant who takes her home.
In some ways, they couldn’t be more opposite: He’s big, she’s little. He’s as old as the hills, she’s not even a teenager. But in another way, BFG and Sophie share common ground as isolated outsiders longing to belong, to be known. There’s a sense of wonder, awe and vulnerability in their unfolding relationship that recalls the spirit of another beloved Spielberg classic:E.T.: The Extraterrestrial. It’s no coincidence that both scripts were penned by the same screenwriter, Melissa Mathison (who died of cancer in November 2015).
The BFG is a tall tale that combines Mathison’s heart and generosity with Spielberg’s prodigious moviemaking prowess, resulting in a rollicking, reflective and utterly delightful story suitable for all but the very youngest (or most sensitive) viewers.
By Focus on the Family Singapore. This review was adapted from Plugged In: the entertainment guide your family needs to make family appropriate decisions through movie reviews, book reviews, TV reviews, and more.