Whereas Absolutely Fabulous was pathetic, The Big Friendly Giant was stunning.
Ab. Fab. was a couple of hours of Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders with a plethora of their mates swanning around Cannes, falling over, taking drugs and being puerile. Then there’s the BFG? What a fascinating film, the animation was masterly and, of course, Mark Rylance can do no wrong. This isn’t a cartoon, it’s more realistic and therefore more scary but In the Queen’s Film Theatre the children were mesmerised and accepted the story including the horrible, gross child-eating giants, Gizzardgulpher and Childchewer amongst them.
The Big Friendly Giant himself has a job making dreams, bottling them and blowing them around sleeping people, usually good dreams but when you are in Giant Country there can also be nightmares to contend with and there are some nightmarish elements to this film and I noticed a lot of little ones left their seats to climb up on their mummy’s knee and feel reassuring arms round them!
This Spielberg film has taken a lot of criticism and there are elements that an adult would take issue with – it’s never explained why the BFG took a little girl from her bed in the orphanage in the first place except to prevent her from telling anyone he’d been outside her window, and a bit alarming when he tells her: ‘I takes you because I hears your lonely heart’.
There are a few uncomfortable sequences when you wonder what the BFG’s intensions are but that’s only an adult ‘human beans’ observation, little ‘human beans’ will accept it for what it is, a story well told.
The vocabulary is of course fascinating. Ronald Dahl took many of the worlds from his wife’s speech after her stroke. Initially actress Patricia Neal had difficulty with language, mixing up words in what today we know of as aphasia, but her husband has taken these and given them to the giant and as a result we have a wonderful lexicon to draw on, Jumblygiant brainbloggingsight, squifflerotter and grinkstudge and of course his favourite despicable vegetable, the snozzcumber.
I hesitate to say this is a brilliant film. For a child it certainly is with few exceptions. For an adult – me – it just fails for a couple of reasons, the music mainly, sweeping orchestral rather than slow and creepy; in places a lack of wild background sound made a scene a bit empty – nit picking perhaps. For this human bean however, and many others, it’s the computer generated images that star. This is a complex art form and a way of taking Mark Rylance with his twinkly eyes and distinctive eye brows and, in layman terms, superimposing his face onto the head and body of a man-made giant conceived in a computer. Giant country is full of his fellow inhabitants, child eating horrors but each with a human face taken and regurgitated into images that are hard to forget. At times I was sorry I couldn’t climb onto someone’s knee and feel their protective arms around me!
Big Friendly Giant
Queen’s Film Theatre