On July 22nd, Steven Spielberg’s long awaited live action adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel, The BFG, will stomp its way into UK cinemas. From the initial whispered murmurings online to the official announcement to the oddly quiet production period to the eventual- and fantastic – looking trailers, The BFG’s journey has been as mysterious and secretive as its giant protagonist. Spielberg is a director at the top of his game and this latest addition to his extensive portfolio has, like so many other tales in his forty year career had no issue winning over critics and audiences alike with early reviews from Cannes being predominantly positive and holding a current rating of 71% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes – this can only mean that The BFG is tipped to be a sure fire hit with just one major hurdle to overcome – winning over fans of not only the book, but the original animated 1989 adaptation.
First shown on ITV on Christmas Day of that year The BFG was directed by British director/producer Brian Cosgrove who’s impressive CV puts him at the forefront of such classic childrens TV as Danger Mouse, Lavender Castle and Count Duckula. If you were born in the 80’s and or/attended primary school in the early 90’s chances are you’d have been shown the original BFG on a rainy day, where keeping tiny human beans occupied for six hours when the playground was out of bounds consisted of plonking them in front of VHS recorded kid-friendly fodder – who remembers Through the Dragon’s Eye?
Funny, scary, creepy, eerie and beautifully ethereal the original BFG captured the imaginations of youngsters everywhere; whether you’re familiar with the book, the cartoon or both, there’s no denying the original animation is a timeless masterpiece that manages to hold up over 25 years later. Here’s five reasons why we love Brian Cosgrove’s Christmas-time original:
(1) David Jason
Whether playing Del Boy, Pop Larkin, Inspector Frost, Granville, Danger Mouse or the The BFG himself, Sir David’s involvement is always a sure sign of quality. The beloved national treasure seems incapable of attaching his name to a sub-par product. His goofy, gangly portrayal of Roald Dahl’s beloved character kept just the right balance of clumsy excitement, childish enthusiasm and just the right amount of scary – almost like a giant animated version of Doctor Who.
(2) The Opening Titles
Speaking of Doctor Who – the fingerprints of Gallifrey’s finest Time Lord can be seen all over The BFG’s opening titles. The swirling vortex of colour as we are hurled into a tunnel of light and sound whilst bombarded with strange otherworldly music is a deliberate homage to the good Doctor, and even The BFG‘s logo is strangely similar to the classic 80’s Who logo. Throw in a TARDIS sound effect and pause before the BFG card appears and you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference.
(3) The Whizzpopper Song
All together now: ‘Whizz-pop! Whizz-bang! Feel the bubbles go down!’ There’s not a single fan of the original film that can’t at least sing some of the kooky song that the BFG blurts out after introducing young Sophie to his favourite drink – Frobscottle – a physics defying fizzy beverage that somehow produces bubbles that float downwards, leading to some rather, er….noisy and embarrassing intestinal eruptions.
(4) The Animation
There’s something off kilter about The BFG all the way through. An intangible otherworldly quality that was very unsettling for young viewers. Brian Cosgrove and his team did a remarkable job creating a world that was accessible, yet somehow terrifying to look into. The other giants that populated Giant Country were hideous, lumpy creatures in shades of blue and green that made the idea of eating people seem even more of a real possibility. The design of the dreams and the magic surrounding The BFG are lovely combinations of colour and light that are a stark contrast to the horrors committed by Bloodbottler, Fleshlumpeater and the rest of the giant horde. Plus, there something that’s still really unsettling about the animated likeness of Her Majesty The Queen….
(5) The Worlds of Road Dahl
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, the man himself. For many, The BFG was a window into the wonderful stories that sprung from Roald Dahl’s imagination. For those sproglets who were on the cusp of discovering the wonders that a good brook can deliver, the animated film was the perfect bridge to picking up the original BFG book – from there it was onwards to the Chocolate Factory and Crunchem Hall by way of a giant flying peach, to meet characters such as the Grand High Witch, The Twits and young Danny.
Roald Dahl’s imagination was immeasurable and to see one of his famous creations brought to life by a director who has a proven record of capturing the magic of the world through the eyes of children is sure to be the rarest of treats, so be sure to pack your Snozzcumber sandwiches and a bottle of Frobscottle; and please, hold on tight – we’re off to Giant Country.
The BFG will be released nationwide on Friday 22nd July