How does Steven Spielberg still do it? Here is another outstanding work from the versatile filmmaker that completely made me forget my surroundings. The BFG, based on Roald Dahl’s book of the same name, is Spielberg’s best since The Adventures of Tintin and gifted me an experience unlike any other. It brought out the child within me. The last film that did this to me was Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, which was also based on another children’s story. I’ve never read Dahl’s book but I can only imagine how great it must be judging from what I’ve gathered from its big screen adaptation. I was spellbound by some of the magical visuals presented here.
The eponymous character, The BFG aka The Big Friendly Giant, is played by Mark Rylance in motion capture. Rylance was previously seen in Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies – for which he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar – and I’m guessing he will be seen in many more future Spielberg films. He once again delivers an Oscar-worthy performance and I have a feeling he’ll get at least a nomination this time, that too in the Best Actor category. Ruby Barnhill plays a little orphan girl Sophie who is snatched from her orphanage bed one night by the BFG and taken to his mysterious lair. Sophie learns that the BFG is a vegetarian and likes kids. The minute we step into his home, Spielberg treats us to a bevy of amazing and fascinating imagery.
The BFG’s self-appointed job, it so happens, is that of a dream catcher. He literally captures dreams. He picks them up from a magical land called Dream Country – a place that no humans are aware of. Sophie is given a tour of this place by the giant. This is one of the film’s truly mesmerizing set pieces and Spielberg once again shows why he is still the undisputed master of conjuring up stunning, never-before-seen sequences. The BFG has the ability to make “concoctions” of various dreams and plant them in the minds of people. One could see him as a representation of Spielberg himself. When Sophie comes into contact with a group of evil, man-eating giants, she comes up with a plan to get rid of them with the BFG’s help. Almost 80% of the film is CGI.
Spielberg is once again aided by his usual collaborators – the brilliantly talented trio of cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, composer John Williams and editor Michael Kahn. Spielberg’s astonishing knack for choreographing masterful action sequences and eye-catching transition effects are on full display here as well. In one particular sequence, a man-eating giant’s eye transitions into an eye-shaped rock formation framing the BFG’s silhouette against the evening sun. The film carries a light-hearted tone and is not as emotion-heavy as say, E.T or A.I. However, you could call this a spiritual sibling of sorts to A.I. Do not expect something with too much depth because that’s not what it is. It’s simply an absorbing children’s story and nothing more.