(PG) Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill
by Mark Hadley
The creation of cinematic royalty and rightly one of the most anticipated children’s films of the year, The BFG is based on the best-selling, multi-award-winning book of the same name by children’s author Roald Dahl.
This live-action drama introduces us to Ruby Barnhill as Sophie, an orphaned girl who is reading one night during the “witching hour” of 3am. Strange sounds draw her to the window of her orphanage, where she sees a tall, dark shape peering into the buildings on her street. The creature spots Sophie and, before she can scream, whisks her off to Giant Land. At first, Sophie is concerned she’s going to become her kidnapper’s dinner. “You think that because I’m a giant, I’m a man-gobbling canny-a-bull?” laughs her keeper – and in a trice, we’re introduced to Mark Rylance as the Big Friendly Giant, or the BFG for short.
The BFG is an outcast precisely because he doesn’t like eating children. Gigantic bullies like Bonecruncher, Childchewer, Meatdripper, and Gizzardgulper torment him whenever they’re not carrying off kids because he’s a good deal smaller, and prefers vegetables to “human beans”. Instead, the grandfatherly BFG spends his time catching dreams and delivering them to the children of the world. He and Sophie become firm friends, and our little heroine soon hatches a plan to put an end to his terrifying kindred.
The BFG has an impressive pedigree – Steven Spielberg, Disney Pictures, Weta Digital and Walden Media. Walden’s involvement is particularly significant because its Christian owner aims to create movies that are, “... life affirming and carry a moral message”. In this case, the lesson seems to be one involving books and covers. The BFG is the victim of a monstrous visage, but Sophie soon learns he’s the gentlest of giants, who was drawn to her, “... because I hears your lonely heart”. Alongside this the writers have laid the determination of even the littlest girl to do what she knows is right.
Both of these morals will be well at home in a Christian household. Jesus found many children of God in what others judged to be worthless and dangerous company. Likewise, every believing parent hopes their child will stand firm in the face of what can seem to be gigantic opposition. The producers have taken some liberties with the original storyline. However, Sophie still heads off with the BFG to enlist the aid of the Queen of England (Penelope Wilton). It’s not hard to see how mums and dads could use this turn to remind their kids how much we need the King of Heaven to solve sin’s colossal problems.