Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s story Big Friendly Giant has just been transformed into a fantasy filled 3D film by acclaimed director Steven Spielberg. Roald Dahl’s renowned books Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory take us back to our own school years, where we would sit in the library and become immersed in another world. Big Friendly Giant is no different, and it’s exciting to see a nostalgic visualisation brought to life in an action packed interpretation of this sentimental tale. Spielberg successfully manages to compel both children and adults from beginning to end with stunning visual effects that undoubtedly transport the viewer to an otherworldly realm.
Immediately drawn in, Big Friendly Giant (BFG) tells the story of a young orphaned girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill), who dreams of a better home and life. One evening, Sophie happens to see a large, cloaked figure outside her window blowing a trumpet-like device that sends pleasant dreams to sleeping children. Being her usual curious and spirited self, Sophie is discovered and the BFG is forced to take her along to his homeland of Giant Country, where his mysterious identity is finally revealed. From here on, the viewer is taken on a whirlwind journey through a magical land of mythical creatures, obscure drinks like frobscottle, and dangerous child-eating giants. However, BFG refuses to be like his fellow inhabitants who participate in such horrendous acts and instead insists on consuming the repulsive-tasting vegetable snozzcomber. As the story unfolds, the viewer learns a great deal about the gentle giant, who quickly befriends Sophie and strives to protect her from his malicious counterparts.
The aesthetic scenes are heightened with striking music by John Williams, as well as state-of-the art three dimensional graphics that dynamically make the viewer feel as miniscule as little Sophie. From gliding down high mountain tops, diving deep into another dimension or from the mere perspective of the BFG, the film techniques, angles and overall cinematography makes one feel a bit dizzy or hazed, in a good way. Spielberg gives this film a special quality that sets it apart from the average animation by incorporating 3D elements and morphing actor Mark Rylance into the BFG, which makes the fictional character appear very real. Colour divides the real and unreal parallel worlds and heightens character emotion, as Spielberg establishes Sophie’s loneliness in London with a stark misty night sky whilst the BFG’s fantasy realm bursts with colour and effervescence. Likewise, the melding of computerised digital features amongst the realistic backdrop of London, England make for a believable composition that instills a yearning for a world of giants to exist; a mere wanting to escape reality, thanks to Spielberg’s touch.
Spielberg attempts to lure the viewer to a beautiful scene in Dream Country; a haven of dreams that glisten in the night sky and twinkle against the stems of tree branches. Sophie escapes the frightening world of Giant Country where BFG is tormented by the leader of the giant pack Fleshlumpeater; his name says it all. Dream Country is where BFG feels most at home, and where he does most his work. Amidst the beauty of these glowing orbs of light, nightmares float around with their harsh red glare, reminding us that behind a mirage of beauty, darkness still exists. A symbolic contradiction of light and darkness, anger and love and good and evil is portrayed, acting as a subtle note to stay humble and kind despite life’s difficulties. After their adventure to Dream Country, Sophie comes up with an unrivaled plan to persuade the BFG to approach the Queen of England for help and later finds herself living the life she always dreamed of.
The BFG looks a little scary and different, yet he is kind-hearted, thoughtful and full of love, teaching us that appearances mean nothing. As they say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. Spielberg draws from a 1982 classic to create a contemporary feature that appeals to people of all ages, whilst pinpointing messages of friendship, trust and judgement. Showing kindness and love to all beings is something we are all capable of but don’t do enough. Although a children’s film, many adults can adopt a few traits from the BFG. A reasonable excuse to embrace your inner child and escape reality for a little while.
Big Friendly Giant will be in theatres around Australia from June 30, 2016.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Rafe Spall, Rebecca Hall, voices of Jemaine Clements, Bill Hader
Screenplay: Melissa Matheson, based on the book by Roald Dahl
Running time: 117 min.