Roald Dahl crafted stories so clever, charming, and imaginative that they inspired child-like wonder in readers, whether young or old. This is why filmmakers gravitate to his literary work for inspiration.
However, Dahl despised film adaptations of his work particularly when directors deviated sharply from his stories. When he passed on, his widow and second wife, Felicity, made certain that her husband’s stories would never again fall into the hands of half-hearted filmmakers.
This has resulted in an amazing line-up of Dahl adaptations to date, including Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, and, most recently, Steven Spielberg’s The BFG.
Indeed, the Jurassic Park director has created another larger-than-life film with one of Dahl’s most revered books about an unlikely friendship between a girl and a giant. It took over 20 years of scriptwriting before it was placed in his hands, and it would seem that the two-decade effort paid off.
The movie, without all the glitz and glamor of big Hollywood names, perfectly captured the simplicity of Dahl’s stories. We meet newbie Ruby Barnhill as the brave and quick-witted Sophie, kidnapped by a towering CGI creature (played by Mark Rylance) after seeing him outside her window.
The creature, that she later learns is called the Big Friendly Giant, brings her to his cave in Giant Country. Not to eat her as she initially thought, but to keep her from spreading news of his existence. Even when Sophie was safe in the hands of the BFG, her life was still at risk, because of the presence of nine other giants—who wouldn’t mind having a child to munch on.
The BFG does all he can to protect her, at the cost of becoming harshly maltreated by his own kind. This pushes Sophie to plan an end to the cannibalism and bullying—she goes as far as to seek aid from the Queen.
The film is filled with fantasy and wonderment any child would love, and the cleverness and humor an adult would appreciate. It makes us empathize with a creature that we know isn’t real, yet we can somehow briefly believe in. The stunning visual experience, the somewhat undecipherable yet charming way the BFG spoke (in “gobblefunk,” Roald Dahl’s invented language), and the admirable courage of a young, independent heroine are just a few of the factors that make Spielberg’s The BFG a must-see amidst tales of superheroes and Disney princesses.
Made for children, The BFG is riddled with life lessons to teach your kids. Here are just a few of them.
WARNING: Minor spoilers are on this list!
8. Never judge someone by appearance alone.
The BFG, as gargantuan and terrifying as he is in the eyes of Sophie, turns out to be a gentle and kind creature. It proves that just because someone has a fearful countenance doesn’t mean that they’re a threat.
7. Learn to trust.
The film is filled with scenes that exhibit the trust developed between the BFG and Sophie. Without it, the story would not have progressed to its joyous conclusion.
6. Stand up for yourself.
Despite the towering stature of the BFG, his size pales in comparison to that of the giants that live outside his home. This earns him the nickname “Runt” and he easily becomes a plaything to the giants who toss him around like a football. Sophie berates the BFG, telling him that he should stand up for himself, otherwise he’ll continue being trampled on by those bigger than him. This is something kids might relate to and take to heart.
5. Be brave.
If there’s anything children should begin to admire, it’s the bravery and intelligence exhibited by heroines their age, like Sophie. These qualities let her do more than what she is capable of, and they eventually earned her a better life in the end.