The BFG / IKJ (a review)

Day 73. 123,730 words.

(Reviewer’s note: I am not adding images to this review, and probably won’t bother in future. Google image search has gimpversioned itself to death and basically made it a huge pain in the arse to find images of decent size and quality that don’t breach sharing agreements, so fuck ‘em)

After many, many years, after enjoying this classic book by Roald Dahl myself as a child, and after reading it to Wump and more recently reading it to Toop, I finally got a chance to sit down (thanks to Mr. Itkobloom) and watch the movie adaptation of The BFG.

“BFG”, to those who may not know, stands for “Big Friendly Giant” – which is why in Finland the movie and the book are known as IKJ – “Iso Kiltti Jättiläinen”. I’ve always considered the name to be a bit misleading, because the story is about a giant who is actually the smallest of ten giants. He’s only about half their size, possibly because he’s a vegan. I don’t want to get into the levels there.

Anyway, the point is, the book should probably have been called The LFG.

I’ve loved this story for a long time. The ten giants and their strange somewhere-on-the-blank-back-pages-of-the-atlas country was an inspiration to me in the formative stages of my writing career. I think ten is a magic number in the Pinian urverse, to some extent, because of these ten strange immortals.

But I digress, a bit. I was delighted to see the book brought to life, and remain so faithful to the book. Those parts that were added really only improved the texture of the BFGverse, and the parts that were removed … well, let’s just say the movie didn’t suffer from the lack of conversations about how Greeks tasted greasy, hottentots were hot, and people in Baghdad were cutting each other’s heads off left, right and centre.

Yes, there were some additions. I think the format changes to the BFG’s cave made sense, because the book was maybe a little poorly described. Making the giants scared of water was a nice touch, and allowed for a few sidesteps of logistical issues in terms of confronting and containing the fuckers. And the addition of the side-story of the BFG’s previous human friend was really nice. They could have gone all-in for a creepy or horrifying vibe, or pushed even harder at the feels button and made it much sadder … but they walked the line cleverly. And really, if he’d been around since the dawn of time, it was pretty unbelievable that Sophie was the first human who’d seen him.

My main – indeed, just about only – complaint was that Mister Tibbs was a bit poorly cast and did not have those wonderfully butlery qualities Dahl talks about in his story. But that’s a minor thing. I also would have suggested that maybe the palace frobscottle scene would have worked better with everybody except the Queen whizzpopping. Because the Queen does not whizzpop. But I’ll allow it. Mostly because I was pleased they didn’t go nuts with a stupid amount of whizzpopper jokes and physical comedy. It was handled just tastelessly enough.

I also loved that the Queen was played by Harriet Jones, Prime Minister. I would have loved it even more if she had reminded someone she was Queen, and been told “yes, I know who you are.” But we can’t have everything, can we?

What a fun movie. I can’t recommend it enough.

And if you’re going to read the book to impressionable young children … ehh, maybe a little bit of editing on the fly is necessary. I don’t know. I certainly didn’t worry about it. I just chuckled and explained to Wump that well, that’s sort of how people approached foreign cultures in those days.

A lovely re-imagining of a beloved childhood story. I give it a Gizzardgulper and a Butcher Boy out of a possible Fleshlumpeater.

About Hatboy

I’m not often driven to introspection or reflection, but the question does come up sometimes. The big question. So big, there’s just no containing it within the puny boundaries of a single set of punctuationary bookends. Who are these mysterious and unsung heroes of obscurity and shadow? What is their origin story? Do they have a prequel trilogy? What are their secret identities? What are their public identities, for that matter? What are their powers? Their abilities? Their haunted pasts and troubled futures? Their modus operandi? Where do they live anyway, and when? What do they do for a living? Do they really have these fantastical adventures, or is it a dazzlingly intellectual and overwrought metaphor? Or is it perhaps a smug and post-modern sort of metaphor? Is it a plain stupid metaphor, hedged around with thick wads of plausible deniability, a soap bubble of illusory plot dependent upon readers who don’t dare question it for fear of looking foolish? A flight of fancy, having dozed off in front of the television during an episode of something suitably spaceship-oriented? Do they have a quest, a handler, a mission statement, a department-level development objective in five stages? I am Hatboy.
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4 Responses to The BFG / IKJ (a review)

  1. Thanks for this review! I’ve been on the fence but thinking about watching it with the K-I-D-Z. Now I will.

    But not this weekend! Return of the King, wings, and tons of popcorn for this weekend. The 4 hour version!

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