This past week, through the kindness of Walden Pond Press, I was able to attend a screening of the Steven Spielberg adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG. I went into it knowing little, as it is one of the few Dahl titles I have not read, attributable to my working full time, doing a part-time graduate degree, running competitively (did my second NYC marathon that year), and slowly giving up on my dream of becoming a children’s book illustrator the year it came out. When I heard about the movie last year I started reading the book, but soon gave up — I found the BFG’s made-up vocabulary highly irritating. However, knowing how much others love the book, the positive responses to the movie so far, and the impressive people involved made me eager to see it.
And now I am here to report that it is delightful. I don’t know if it is a great departure from the book (I now intend to give it another try), but it worked for me. Early on the BFG explains his difficulties with language and so it didn’t bother me. Overall, it is funny, sweet, mournful, and highly satisfying at the end. There are some fabulous scenes — the BFG’s home, his dream-work, and those in the palace. The latter, in particular the one involving frobscottle (here I am using that whimsical language myself:), provoked the biggest laughs-out-loud from me and others in the audience, some of whom were very, very young. I enjoyed what appeared to be a few subtle references to Spielberg’s iconic E.T. — at least so they seemed to me. But what really makes the movie is Mark Rylance’s BFG. The man is brilliant. I’ve seen him in a variety of productions — notably the farce Boing-Boing, his fabulous turn as Olivia in the RSC’s Twelfth Night , and the Wolf Hall television series — and think he is truly one of the great actors of our time. In this, for all the make-up and digital enhancements, the marvelous actor comes through in spades. I’d go see it again just for him if nothing else.