Last weekend my lovely 6ft-something non-Dahl-fanatic boyfriend agreed to take me, his overly excited Dahl-loving girlfriend, to see The BFG. Now I will admit, I had exceptionally high hopes what with Spielberg adapting my favourite Dahl novel and easily the best stage actor I have ever seen, the great Mark Rylance, playing the title role. I wanted to sit next to the boy, utterly spellbound, watching a film that would make him fall in love with the story that made me fall in love with reading and language.
The cinematography of the film and the dreamcatching sequence are stunningly beautiful and Mark Rylance just is a perfect BFG – as a trained Shakespearean actor his natural love and understanding of wordplay matches the gobblefunking giant exquisitely. He was magical, twinkly eyed and just amazing.
Yet despite this, it was clear after the first half an hour it wasn’t all I was hoping it would be. I’ve hurriedly reread the book in order to cement my authority on this matter (review will be posted later) but there were too many things missing or misjudged which, when combined together, made for a pretty unmagical film. The beautifully delivered wordplay was bypassed and unreferenced a lot of the time. The giants were bumbling fools, not terrifying maneaters. Sophie was petulant and bossy, not a little girl who’s found her best friend in the BFG. A strange backstory was added in which made Sophie’s relationship with her giant less special. The capture of the giants was easy and straight-forward, no heroine moments from the extraordinary little girl. Overall, it just missed the mark.
I was desperate for this to be my new favourite film. For the boy to turn around to me at the end and declare that we had to see it again. For me to counts the days for the DVD release. But it’s just not meant to be. It was missing the magic that makes Dahl fantabulous.
I know books are better than films but I had hope going into this one. I will always have my BFG in the pages of my over-read, falling apart copy and that was always enough before and will forever continue to be – he is one utterly delumptious giant after all!