Steven Spielberg’s newest movie The BFG is a perfect fairy tale—for everyone.
About four or five years ago, I mentioned to my children that computer animation is advanced enough that someone should bring to the screen one of our family’s favorite books, Roald Dahl’s The BFG (Big Friendly Giant). Having heard last year that Steven Spielberg took up the challenge, I’ve been waiting since then for the release of the movie version.
Now it has happened, and it is well worth seeing—by everyone.
Roald Dahl’s book (originally published in 1982) is a giant head and shoulders above most of today’s fare aimed at children or teens, most of which are either (1) mindless, politically-corrected, preachy twaddle, (2) heavy-handed teen “realism,” i.e., stained by vulgar language, and punctuated by sexual experimentation, divorce, and suicide, or (3) occult-dabbling that’s meant to occupy the place in literature formerly ruled by fairy tales. In short, not good children’s stories, because they are not good stories at all.
By contrast, Dahl was actually a supremely talented story-teller, one that all ages could enjoy. The BFG, one of his best, is a story about a little orphan girl snatched up and spirited away by a giant who, although he turns out to be both Big and Friendly, lives among the far larger, nasty sort of giants, the ordinary kind who eat children (especially orphans). While Sophie, the girl, gets to know and love the BFG while living in his cave, the evil giants—Fleshlumpeater, Childchewer, Manhugger, Bonecruncher, Meatdripper, Gizzardgulper, Maidmasher, Bloodbottler—want her for dinner. The BFG is a dream-catcher, the evil giants are the stuff of nightmares.
The basic ingredients of good fairy tales, a sign of which is that an adult can read it, and be entirely entertained. I should know. We read The BFG to our kids several times, they each read it countless times again, and our appreciation of his yarn-spinnery and wit grew each time.
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