TBT: The B.F.G. (Big Friendly Giant) (1989)

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Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and now here we are, at the end of Roald Dahl month on TBT. I hope you all have enjoyed going through these posts as much as I have in creating them. I have to confess, when we entered the new year I had absolutely no game plan for January. But that actually happens with most months. 😀 I wanted to start off this year with a more well-defined series of throwbacks. Then I thought about all the Roald Dahl books I had read as a child, and all the films I had watched that were adapted from his work. Of course some escaped me. Throwback Thursday has helped me explore more of his world and has introduced me to some wonderful motion pictures at the same time, and with any luck I’ve helped some of you do the same. Now, we close out the month with one of the more obscure entries, but a solid one nonetheless. 

Today’s food for thought: The B.F.G. (Big Friendly Giant)

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Release: Christmas Day 1989

[Netflix]

Although this is arguably one of the strangest and most obscure of all the Roald Dahl big screen translations, The B.F.G. is undoubtedly Dahl through-and-through. Though this might be the first time some have ever heard of it, this touching adventure could be one of the more heartwarming pieces he had to offer.

A lonely orphan named Sophie (voiced by Amanda Root) is suddenly snatched from her bed in the terrible confines of the Clonkers Home for Girls by a mysterious giant figure late at night. It takes her far away from this place and to seemingly another world, where other giants apparently exist, ones that are not quite as nice and friendly as this one. She is stolen away to the giant’s little nook in the side of a mountain, where he introduces himself as The Big Friendly Giant. He explains that not only is he different from the rest because he’s pleasant, but that he has no intention of eating humans like the others. Thank goodness for that.

The two become fast friends. Being the inquisitive little girl that she is, Sophie wants to know what he was doing in her town late that night. As it turns out, the B.F.G. is a dream-weaver of sorts, as his job is to catch dreams in a spectacular place known as Dream Country and then to travel back to our world and blow them into the imaginations of sleeping children all throughout the night using a trumpet-like device. He bottles the dreams and stores them in his home until he decides where he’s going to take each one. Sophie is at first reluctant to believe that this is real, until the B.F.G. takes her there himself.

It’s not long, however, before one of the evil giants senses that there is a human in the area. This being a Roald Dahl adaptation, these beasts have some really odd names: there’s the Butcher Boy, the Fleshlumpeater, the Manhugger, the Childchewer, the Meatdripper, the Gizzardgulper, the Maidmasher, the Bloodbottler and, of course, who can forget the Bonecruncher. It is he, the Bonecruncher, who stumbles upon the B.F.G.’s lair one night and trashes his place in his search for this child but the friendly giant insists there’s no one there and that he is just talking to himself.

The thing with beasts, you see, is that they like to sleep all day and scour the land by night, looking for children to gorge themselves on. The B.F.G. wants nothing to do with them, and actively avoids going near them. With the help of this young girl, maybe the B.F.G. can become brave enough to find a way to rid the land permanently of these vicious creatures. Indeed, that is just what they do together.

When one trip back to Sophie’s home town finds the two in danger yet again since the Bonecruncher has found a way to follow them, the B.F.G. realizes that they might not ever be out of danger. He feels awful for putting Sophie in harm’s way. Returning to the land of giants, they form a plan that will involve the Queen, her Royal Air Force and a few acts of courage to rid this world of danger.

The B.F.G. has unfortunately slipped through the cracks compared to other productions based off of the renowned author’s scribblings. That’s strange considering the popularity of Dahl’s book. The novel’s 1981 release ensured a loyal following had already formed behind it (this book was his eleventh). However, that’s not to say the picture lacks in its passion for showing that there are indeed good people in this world. The B.F.G. represents the good adult role model wayward children so desperately need in their lives, and thanks to David Jason’s wonderful voiceover work, the film indeed offers that.

Scenes like the one in which the B.F.G. introduces Sophie to what he calls frobscottle — a strange drink in which the carbonation bubbles drift to the bottom, rather than up to the top, causing the person to fart (or ‘whizpop’) rather than burp — proof that this film is decidedly more for the benefit of children rather than adults; all the same, it’s an enchanting adventure that will often take you by surprise.

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3-0Recommendation: The B.F.G. is definitely worth the searching through Netflix’s immense collection, and should you choose it, be prepared for a great deal of silliness and perhaps even more strangeness. Reiterating, the younger viewers will benefit more from this quirky little animation and the film doesn’t quite hold the classic appeal of some of Dahl’s more popular adaptations, yet the journey is still a great deal of fun and I wish I had gotten to it sooner. At least I have now.

Rated: G

Running Time: 88 mins.

Quoted: “Meanings is not important. I cannot be right all the time. Quite often I is left instead of right.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.youtube.com; http://www.mubi.com

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17 thoughts on “TBT: The B.F.G. (Big Friendly Giant) (1989)

  1. I didn’t even know this film existed! I remember reading the book when I was a kid and liking it. Might have to look into this one for nostalgia’s sake. Nice review, Tom!

    • hey thanks Cara! Its defnitely one of those that has slipped the cracks. But I found it to be a worth-while pursuit, hope you can get your hands on it sometime.

  2. I actually remember watching this as a small child. Remember exactly where, but the age must have been four or five, so I cannot recall any of the story. Other than what I just read of course. Glad it held up to the test of time enough to gain a pass. Well written review!

    • Thanks kind sir. It’s a very interesting little animation, that’s for sure. I found it pretty enjoyable and satisfactory enough for a R.D. adaptation. thanks for stopping by !

    • Dahl-mania!! You, sir are a genius.

      I’m telling you, I’m going to snatch you away from Three Rows Back and employ your creative services around here! 😀

      Thanks as always for stopping by, this has been indeed a fun month. Looking forward to what eveyrone has to say about the next month’s theme. Hint: it’ll be a little more sports-related. 😉 Cheers.

  3. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO it is over!!!! Tom, what a wonderful journey you have taken us on, I had a lot of fun. I have not seen any of these movies in the longest time (except Fantastic Mr Fox, which I saw two years ago or something), and even had me wanting to go back and read the books. Truly great, and another stellar review!

    • 😦 I know, sad times on DSB!!! hahah But we must move forward. I think I’ve got something brewing for the month of February that should be pretty cool. . .

      I’m glad this has been enjoyable for you Zoe, thanks so much for reading as always. 😀

      • Oooooh looking forward to see what it is that you are cooking up!

        😀 Of course! When you come across a good thing it is always fun to invest!

  4. I had no idea this had been adapted into movie form. Though your review is somewhat tepid, I’ll still check it out at some point, if only to quiet my curiosity.

    • ah shit. didn’t mean to come off that way. I loved this film but I’d imagine it’s much better as a child than as a grown-up who can’t allow themselves to believe in fantasy anymore. That said, it’s not the most outstanding Roald Dahl adaptation, but it’s quite enjoyable. I debated between a 5/8 and 6/8 forever but had to settle with the former. 🙂

      • I definitely got that you liked it, but thought it less good for us older folk than for younger folk.

        So maybe tepid is the wrong word. I don’t know. 😉

      • It definitely is a kiddie flick. I enjoyed it despite my criticisms of certain parts. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on it if you ever get around to seeing it James.

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