Time to relive the bedtime story. That’s what I billed Tuesday’s screening of Disney’s The BFG as. With my husband on one arm and my oldest son on the other, I stepped between the pages of Roald Dahl’s favorite story. (And perhaps, one of ours.) We were eager to see if Walt Disney Studios and Director Steven Spielberg would bring this story a screen life that matched the one in our heads and hearts. In a word, The BFG was “scrumdiddlyumptious.” It was touching and irreverent, mysterious and laugh-out-loud funny. The tale of a ten-year-old London orphan, the Big Friendly Giant she befriends, and their common quest is fairly true to the novel. I won’t spoil the movie or retell the book’s story, but I will share 5 BIG Things You Should Know About Disney’s The BFG that I think will enhance your trip to Giant Country.
1. Walt Disney
I was floored to find out that Walt Disney actually met and was working with Roald Dahl in April of 1943 to bring his first story, The Gremlins, to the screen. That project never came to fruition, but Disney and Random House did release the book that eventually inspired the 1984 film. (Guess who produced that movie? Yup, Steven Spielberg.) Imagine, after all these decades, Walt STILL has a personal connection to his company and its artistic direction. Imagine!!
2. Roald Dahl
The British author of James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Fantastic Mr. Fox would have turned 100 this September; talk about a “delumptious” year! Dahl was a Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force, sustained injuries due to a crash in the Libyan, and took up writing as a distraction. I believe we can safely surmise that he made the absolute most of a bad situation; perhaps we can also deduce that this lesson influenced his work?
3. Steven Spielberg
How can it be that this four-time Oscar-winning movie maker who has been working in film for over forty years has never directed a project with Walt Disney Studios?? I am happy that I will never be able to write that again. In many ways, this film brought me back to some of his early work. To the E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial plot; a lonely youngster befriends the most unlikely of pals and ultimately saves them. And to the playful silliness of Goonies! I can easily see why Spielberg was drawn to The BFG story. He is no stranger to young, “save the day” heroes!
4. Light VS. Dark
No, not the Star Wars kind, but the fairytale variety. Roald Dahl is a master of navigating the shadows and lighthearted wonder. Walt Disney certainly embraced the darkness in works such as Bambi and Dumbo, and saw value in combining life’s sadder realities with ultimate redemption. Steven Spielberg, who has identified Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as his favorite Disney movie, recognizes that without the factor of fear, the happy ending would not be as cherished. In The BFG, the nightmare does coexist with the dream, and for my popcorn, does it with just the right mix of each for both “childlers” and adults.
5. Embracing Differences
My friends and readers will know that I have a deep, personal affinity for the underdog. I acknowledge that in many of the recent offerings from Walt Disney Studios- Finding Dory, and Zootopia particularly- have lifted up some very special heroes and heroines. In The BFG, our friendly giant is the runt of his family’s litter of Cannybully and Murderful Giants” and is picked on unmercifully by his bigger, badder brothers. He is a loner who is resigned to a life where delivering dreams for others is the best he will ever achieve. Leave it to an insomniac little girl to help him (and her) find salvation. Once again, special abilities lead to special things!!!
Enough of my “Gobblefunk.” Go see The BFG. The first-time meeting of three giants- Walt Disney, Roald Dahl, and Steven Spielberg- is reason enough!
** I received a complimentary ticket for the screening of this film. No post or compliment was required!