The Big Friendly Giant (2016)

Two years ago, I blogged about The Big Friendly Giant movie adaptation. I saw it shortly after, but I completely forgot to write my promised movie review. So what better time to make good on my promise than right now?

The Big Friendly Giant (2016) 1

Do I have to give you a synopsis? I mean, you could read my earlier blog post… But okay, here goes:

Ten-year-old Sophie is in for the adventure of a lifetime when she meets the Big Friendly Giant. Naturally scared at first, the young girl soon realizes that the 24-foot behemoth is actually quite gentle and charming. As their friendship grows, Sophie’s presence attracts the unwanted attention of Bloodbottler, Fleshlumpeater and other giants. After traveling to London, Sophie and the BFG must convince Queen Elizabeth to help them get rid of all the bad giants once and for all.

I loved this book by Roald Dahl ever since I was little, and a lot of if was because of the language. I love the fact that he invents these words that just describe his story so perfectly. They are the kind of words that children would use naturally to describe what they are doing or how they are feeling. I absolutely love that part of the story! I read it first in Dutch of course, so discovering all these words again in English was an extra treat. So I’d love to share some of my favourite quotes from the movie here:

Sophie: You snatched me.
The BFG: Yeah, well, there you has me right. Anyway, I didn’t steal you very much. After all, you’s only a little thing. Still, but I can’t help thinking about your poor mother and father. They must be skump…

Sohie: Why did you take me?
The BFG: Well, I had to take you ’cause the first thing you’d be doing, you’d be scuttling around and yodelling the news that you were actually seeing a giant. And then, there would be a great rumple dumpus, wouldn’t there? And all the human beans would be rummaging and whiffling for the giant what you saw, and getting wildly excited. And then they’d be locking me up in a cage to be looked at with all the squiggling, you know… Hippodumplings, and crocadowndillies, and jiggyraffes. And then, there would a gigantous look-see giant hunt for all of the boys.

The BFG: Well, I cannot be helpin’ it if I was sayin’ things a little squiggly. I cannot be right all the time. Quite often, I is left instead of right.

Sophie: How old are you?
The BFG: Oh, I’s as old as the Earth, I suppose. I is getting a little bit crumply but us giants is mostlyjust going on and on, and on… Like whiffsy time-twiddlers.

The BFG: Words. They’s all such a twitch-tickling problem to me all my life. I knows exactly what words I want to say but somehow or other they all comes out squiff-squiddled ’round.
Sophie: Don’t worry. That happens to everyone.
The BFG: Not like it happens to me. I speak in the most terrible wigglish.

The BFG: No. Not in a month of Mondays, girl.

The BFG: Your madjester, I is your humbug servant.

The BFG: Oh, Majester. Oh, Monacher. Oh, ruler of… straight lines. I’s come, with my little friend Sophie to give you a… Uh…
The Queen: To give me what?
The BFG: Asistance.
The Queen: Thank you. I’m sure you have, but not in my dressing-gown.

Sophie: What is Sophie’s dream?
The BFG: Your golden phizzwizard. I don’t see much of them anymore.
Sophie: But what does it say?
The BFG: It tells a story of a little gal. A little chiddler with her whole life ahead of her. With a fambly of her own. Little chiddlers of her own, too, someday. There will be great successfuls… and funnies ahead for her, and truth to tell, just a dribble of despair. Times’ll be hard, times is be soft. Adventures will come and go. But in the end… she remembers the good deeds.

Sophie: I had a dream last night. In the dream, I was awakened by a beautiful, buzzing, humming noise floating above my bed. I walked to the window and against the horizon I saw his long legs leaping, suitcase and trumpet in hand. I could see all the way to Giant Country. I could see the garden BFG was growing. He had fruits and berries, cauliflower and tomatoes. He refused to have Brussels sprouts, though. But snozzcumbers were still growing at the side of his cottage. How else would he make frobscottle? I saw the stone door, and the crooked windows. His cape was hanging by the door. I saw the crow’s nest and his sailor boat bed. I saw his rocking chair and a fire burning in the fireplace with a much nicer stew cooking. I could see the scattered pages of the book he was writing. He was happy, and I was happy. When I’m lonely, which is not nearly as often as before, I talk to him and he actually hears me. Because BFG hears all the secret whisperings of the world. Good morning, BFG.

Even reading over some of these quotes, I get tears in my eyes again. It’s such a lovely story! Anyway, on to a quick review of the movie. So The BFG was released in July 2016. It features Mark Rylance (who you might know from ) as the voice of the big friendly giant (including motion-capture performances) and Ruby Barnhill in her first role as Sophie. It’s made by Disney, of course, and was produced by Steven Spielberg.

Just as the book it’s based on, this movie is not really about the story it’s telling. It’s about Sophie and the giant, about how they interact and their friendship. The movie pauses to let these two characters tell not only their own story, but also regale one another with other stories in general. The movie shadow scene was also quite the masterpiece in my opinion, very beautifully done.

And, like I said before, it’s quite the lyrical, prose-inspired movie. The words are very important and they act almost as an extra character in the movie. It’s why we see the giant talk so much, because audiences can’t get enough of his quizzical voice and comical word choice. That was also my favourite part of the movie adaptation, I loved how they took the words that were so important in the book and gave them an equally important role in the movie. And also just like in the book, the new words the giant creates are never explained. From the context we can devise a general meaning, and that’s enough to drive the story along. The conversations between Sophie and the giant are what drive the movie forward. At times they are underscored with John Williams music, but just as many times they are eerily quiet and you can really focus on the conversation and some slight background noises.

That doesn’t mean there are no action scenes however. There are still mean giants that want to hurt both the friendly giant and Sophie, and they are eventually caught by the Queen’s forces. However Spielberg has stuck to the wonder of the story by not making these into classic action scenes where the camera flits back and forth to up the tempo. During action scenes, the camera usually pans back so you can see everything happening in a wider screen. Close-ups are only used for emphasis, to amplify emotions or comedic punchlines.

And last but not least, I also want to just share this paragraph of Roger Ebert’s review because there is no way I could say it better:

Every few seconds there’s an image that delights for delight’s sake, such as the way the giant, sneaking out of London at night with Sophie hidden in his satchel, uses his wits and the wings of his long coat to camouflage himself: assuming the silhouetted shape of a tree; leaning back into the dark hollows of a building while covering a streetlight bulb with his hand. Spielberg and his regular cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, have an eye for bold graphic images: the giant’s reflection seeming to stand upside-down on the bank of a lake he’s just dived into; one of the bigger giants shielding himself against rain by hoisting up a human-sized umbrella; the BFG striding through a  “gate” that marks the border of the land of giants: a zigzag rock formation, crooked like a swimmer’s elbow.

Source: Roger Ebert

Have you seen this movie already? What did you think?

Happy reading,

Loes M.

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