THE BFG REVIEWED
“The BFG” is the most unapologetic kids movie that I’ve seen in ages. Too many post 2001 movies that target the younger set either want to be too mature or too vapid. For those that haven’t read the original Dahl novel, it’s a book that understands kids. Plus, it helped that Dahl created the BFG as a means of entertaining his children during early tales from the 1960s. Followed by a short outing in a previous novel, 1982 brought the full book to life. It’s weird that 1982 comes up as it ties the Dahl work to the lives of the film’s screenwriter and director.
Steven Spielberg had an amazing 1982. While working as a modern BFG, the film giant found new ways to craft dreamlike tales of children being brave. However, the danger of Dahl’s work never quite came into Spielberg’s work. Hell, Spielberg went out of his way to go back and clean up any possible danger facing Elliott and his friends. The young heroine of Dahl’s tale doesn’t get any benefits. Young Sophie’s life is hell until she is plucked from her window by The BFG. It’s not so much a call to adventure as it is a giant trying to clean up his tracks.
Roald Dahl invites a lot of deep readings into his work and the nature of The BFG kidnapping Sophie has been covered to death. However, the underpinnings to the dormitory kidnapping to the arrival in Giant Country invites a raised eyebrow. The BFG has taken a child before, but the nine other giants ate the child and left his scraps of clothing for the BFG to keep as mementos. It’s not that Sophie is in danger of being lost in Giant Country forever or eaten alive. It’s that Sophie is being kept by an overpowering older man that has a fondness of kids. Whenever The BFG is brought before the public or authority, he shrinks and hides until Sophie finds a way to introduce him to the greater world.
All the while being in a deep literary read of the film, I came to realize that I was 2/3rds of the way into the film and not even a single moment struck me as Spielbergian. While the man has been on a John Ford aging downward slope for the last few years, I dismissed previous assertions as being “minor Spielberg”. When does the lost of an artistic voice become “lesser” work instead of a director losing his vision. Anyone of A-list caliber could’ve directed this film. Jon Favreau did better work playing with a loose adaptation of “The Jungle Book” back in April.
Spielberg is one of those directors whose work should still have event status. I’m not quite sure if it’s time to close the door on the director’s ability to hold that standard. But, I’m growing weary. I shouldn’t be waiting for the Corgis to fart and break my focus on the slight pedophilia undertones of the story. In a way, the desire not to address the elephant in the room reasserts the unapologetic kid feel of the movie. No one gets hurt and no one has to be that sad. But, the bad guys get punished and sent far, far away from our heroes. “The BFG” works as a child’s assessment of dealing with what’s unfair in a world that seems bigger than they can comprehend.
Don’t worry, people. I’ll attack the dream making angle for the home video review. Every bite at the apple is going to be different.
- 1 hr and 57 mins.