Follow TV Tropes


Film / The BFG

Go To

The BFG is a live-action and CGI adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's book. It was directed by Steven Spielberg, distributed by DreamWorks SKG/Amblin Entertainment and Disney, and released in 2016.

One sleepless night in England, a young orphan named Sophie spots a mysterious giant, who kidnaps her and takes her to the mysterious Giant Country. There she discovers he is the Big Friendly Giant who catches dreams in secret and gives them to the sleeping humans. But the BFG is not so big compared to his larger man-eating neighbors, who have a suspicion that he's got a child with him. Sophie and the BFG embark on dream-hunting, giant-dodging adventures, and hatch a plan to deal with the massive cannibals for once and for all.

This is the last film written by Melissa Mathison before her death from cancer in 2015.

Has nothing to do with absurdly large guns.

The film of The BFG provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Downplayed with Sophie. In the book, she wore her glasses all the time out of necessity. In the film, she typically wears them just for reading.
    • Though still massive, the BFG's ears are not as large and more proportional than in Quentin Blake's illustrations, where they were almost as large as his head.
    • While still ugly by human standards, the evil giants are much less hideous and more human-like. They also switched out of sack clothing and into Norse/Celtic checkered capes.
    • Mary is a middle-aged woman in the book, but is played by the very pretty Rebecca Hall.
  • Adaptational Badass: In the novel, the soldiers very fearfully tie up the giants (while the military commanders wait at a safe distance) and break out into total panic when the giants wake up. Here, they effortlessly and fearlessly go about their work, tying up the Giants without a second thought, but they also take out the Fleshlumpeater as he's waking up.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Sophie is a blonde in the original book, and is a brunette here.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Due to being a pretty short book, the movie adds a few extra scenes, such as a subplot about a boy the BFG had taken in before, Sophie getting returned to the orphanage and calling the BFG to come back, and more scenes with all the giants bullying the BFG.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: A small line from the book is left out of the film, but it raises a little plot hole with the ending. In the book, the BFG has only snozzcumbers to eat because he refuses to steal fruits and other foods from human lands, to which Sophie responds that he was fine with stealing her and he rationalizes it as "I did not steal you very much, you is only a small girl." The ending of the film establishes him having planted lots of human fruits and vegetables in Giant Country, but doesn't explain why he hadn't done that before.note 
  • Adaptational Heroism: Unlike the book, the giants regret their actions when BFG and Sophie give them all a nightmare specifically meant to torment them with guilt. The exception is Fleshlumpeater, who doesn’t experience the dream because he wakes up and snorts it out before it can take effect.
  • Adaptation Personality Change:
    • Sophie in the book is a little more timid early on and only taps into her Plucky Girl nature when she sees a giant eating a little boy. Here she's immediately shown to be Wise Beyond Her Years and to have a lot more sass when she first meets the BFG.
    • The man-eating giants. In the book and the animated movie, not only are they more frightening in appearance, but they are ferocious, sadistic (they constantly boast about killing "human beans" as well as the taste of them), and much more abusive to the BFG. Their antagonism is heavily downplayed in this film, reducing them to just big stupid bullies.
    • While the book Fleshlumpeater is the biggest and strongest giant, the giant who serves as a personal antagonist to the BFG (barging in and stealing his stuff) is the Bloodbottler, who is more The Dragon in the film.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Not quite villainy, but a slight omission of guilt. In the book, Sophie is horrified when seeing the dream she and the BFG have whipped up for the Queen is a massive nightmare, though necessary to explain the danger of the giants. In the film, she openly encourages the BFG to make the dream as scary as possible, to get across the danger of the giants.
  • Advertised Extra: Bill Hader. He seldom has any screentime and you'll find yourself wondering why he was listed in the DVD back-cover credits in the first place.
  • The Ageless: The BFG implies this is the case with Giants.
  • All Just a Dream: Early in their captivity with the BFG, Sophie escapes from his cave and runs out into Giant Country alone, only to be snatched up and eaten alive by the Fleshlumpeater disguised as a mountain. Then Sophie wakes up and realizes it was a dream planted by the BFG to explain to her why she can't run away.
  • All There in the Script: The only man-eating giants who are directly named are the Fleshlumpeater and the Gizzardgulper.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The book was released and set in the 1980s, as shown by the Queen being fairly young and brown-haired then. In this film, the cars seen are rather old-fashioned, but the Queen is much older and looks like her 90’s self. Adding to the date clouding is a scene where she calls "Nancy" on the phone and asks if "Ronald" is there, right after speaking to a "Boris".
    • Not only this, but the last orphanage in the UK closed before The '80s.
    • In addition, the Queen's forces are shown to be using Chinook and Skycrane/Tarhe helicopters, the former of whom the UK started to acquire in the 1980s.
  • Artistic License:
    • The Queen's forces that follow the BFG to Giant Country include two CH-54/CH-64 heavy lift helicopters. The RAF has never used such helicopters - all of their heavy transport helicopters at the time were Chinooks.
    • The back of Buckingham Palace also looks different in the film than in real life. Also, the palace garden in this film has a hedge maze at the front, whereas in real life the front is nothing but flat lawn.
  • Batman Gambit: After the BFG leaves her at the orphanage, Sophie lures him back by calling for him, deducing he can hear her if he can hear as far as the stars. When that doesn't seem to be enough, she jumps off the orphanage balcony, expecting him to catch her, and he does.
  • Big Bad: Fleshlumpeater, the leader of the evil giants and the primary bully to the BFG.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Sophie.
  • British Stuffiness: All over the place during the BFG and Sophie's breakfast with the Queen, where her servants and guards treat offering giant-size meals, getting drenched in giant coffee spit, and explosive farting from a frobscottle toast with the utmost seriousness.
  • But Now I Must Go: At the end of the film, the BFG goes back to live in Giant Country, now cannibal-free and full of fruits and vegetables, while Sophie stays with the Queen in her palace (unlike the book where the two are given a new house to live in.)
  • Chekhov's Gag: The BFG's frobscottle drink is demonstrated early, which, due to its bubbles traveling down has... unusual effects. Later on, it gets offered to the Queen and her staff, all of whom are most unaware of what it does and think it's just another toast. How very wrong they are.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The nightmare the BFG and Sophie catch is used at the climax to induce guilt on the giants.
    • Sophie's blanket is dropped outside while the giants are first seen bullying the BFG. The giants later find it and grow suspicious that the "runt" has a human with him.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The giants' language is intelligible to English speakers.
  • Cool Gate: Traveling to Giant Country apparently involves passing through a particular cloud filled with lightning, though when BFG takes Sophie, it's kept somewhat vague that a Cool Gate is involved. Later, when the military follows BFG to Giant Country, the gate is made more obvious by showing helicopter instrumentation going crazy for a few seconds before returning to normal. BFG comments that even though they're following him now, they wouldn't be able to find Giant Country again, suggesting that the cloud/gate moves.
  • Demoted to Extra: The Bloodbottler suffers criminally from this. In the original book and the animated movie, not only is he the secondary antagonist, but also the one who barges into the BFG's home, not the Fleshlumpeater. In this film? Good luck even guessing which one the Bloodbottler is...
  • Deserted Island: At the end of the film, the giants are dumped by the military on a small uninhabited island off the maps of the world, where they're trapped for the rest of their lives (unlike the book, where they were imprisoned in an enormous man-made pit).
  • The Dog Bites Back: The BFG finally has enough when the other giants come into his dream storeroom and smash up the place looking for Sophie. He grabs a fire poker and begins attacking them, actually scaring all but the Fleshlumpeater away. The BFG finally sends him packing with a bucket of water.
  • Due to the Dead: After finding the home in the BFG's hideout where the boy he raised before lived, Sophie takes off the red coat and places it on his bed.
  • The '80s: The film is explicitly set in the 1980s (the decade in which the book was published), as the Queen contacts Nancy Reagan via phone and asks if "Ronnie" is in.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Sophie's first scene has her up at 3 am in the orphanage, where she collects the mail missed by the uncaring headmistress, defiantly tells off several drunks outside to knock off the ruckus, and stays up to read her book by flashlight.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: At the hideout of the BFG's previous playmate, Sophie finds a portrait of Queen Victoria, inspiring her to go to the present Queen for help.
  • The Evil Genius: The unnamed skinny, disheveled giant whom is always at the Fleshlumpeater's side (apparently this movie's version of the Bloodbottler).
  • Evil Redhead: The Fleshlumpeater and his little brother.
  • Face–Heel Turn: The BFG mentions that giants used to be "gentries", perhaps serving as minor deities.
  • Gentle Giant: The BFG. The film itself easily could be called Gentle Giant: The Movie.
  • Gold-Colored Superiority: Sophie's dream of a fulfilling life resembles a Golden Snitch.
  • Graceful Loser: The Fleshlumpeater. While just as pissed as the other giants are at the prospect of having to live on snozzcumbers for the rest of their lives, he appears to accept this fate, albeit sulkily.
  • Groin Attack: When bullying the BFG, the other giants make a game of putting him on a dump truck and throwing him off a hill, while another giant skis down another hill on two cars and sees if he can pass over him. Unfortunately for that giant, he isn't able to leap over the BFG in time (in part due to Sophie manning the steering wheel of one car to force the giant's leg aside) and ends up getting smacked right in the bangers.
  • Happily Adopted: Implied to have happened to Sophie in the end, by being woken up by Mary.
  • Hidden Depths: The awful snozzcumbers, of all things. While in the book they were simply the only food the BFG could get hold of, the film mentions at the end that even when he has access to other vegetables, he still grows them because he makes delicious frobscottle with them.
  • I Am a Humanitarian: The Giants other than the BFG love eating human 'beans'.
  • In a Single Bound: The BFG can leap great distances, even in proportion to his gigantic size. Presumably the other Giants are capable of it too, as it seems to be the only way into and out of Giant Country.
  • Jump Scare: En route to Dream Country, the BFG is trying to sneak past the nine sleeping giants. However, his plans go awry when one of the giants suddenly awakens, grabs hold of his ankle, and screams: "RUNT!!"
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: The BFG has many human-sized objects in his home.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the animated version, this film is much less dark and scary. This is especially the case with the other giants who are mostly portrayed as being bullies but not the cruel monsters that they are in other versions.
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: Sophie is barefoot throughout nearly the entire film, having lost her slippers when the BFG caught her.
  • Masochist's Meal: Snozzcumbers, a gigantic, horrid-tasting cucumber that looks like it's rotten and filled with worms, are the only things the BFG has to eat. At the end, the other giants are left with only snozzcumbers to eat and their seeds to plant if they want to keep living.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Happens to just about everyone in the palace when the effects of drinking frobscottle take place.
  • The Medic: The BFG appears to be a local doctor to the bigger giants, attending to the Fleshlumpeater's wound when he complains of "boo-boos".
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • The BFG starts to feel guilt over kidnapping Sophie, fueled by having taken in another kid who was eaten by the other giants. Eventually, he returns Sophie to the orphanage, until she demands him to return.
    • At the climax, the man-eating giants are given a nightmare of shame and guilt, causing them to regret their cannibalism. Only the Fleshlumpeater is remorseless, having woken up and intercepted the dream before it could take effect.
    • More amusingly, the Queen's Corgis, after drinking up the BFG's frobscottle, each give a mortified look afterward of "I've made a terrible mistake..."
  • Mythology Gag: In one scene, the BFG says that his palace breakfast is scrumdiddlyumptious.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Some of Fleshlumpeater's facial expressions, combined with the design of his face, are somewhat reminiscent of Donald Trump. It doesn't help that both are fair-haired either.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The only scene of a kid being eaten is a nightmare the BFG gives Sophie, which ends the moment she lands in his mouth; however, we see newspaper articles about mysterious disappearances. On their way home from giving out dreams, the BFG senses someone react to discovering their child is missing and they see the evil giants heading home...
  • Oh, Crap!: The BFG's response when the Queen's guards aim dozens of rifles at him.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Mr. Tibbs, the Queen's butler. Whenever he speaks his accent changes from English, to American, to Scottish.
  • Papa Wolf: The BFG definitely has shades of this in his feelings toward Sophie, most notably when he saves Sophie from being crushed by Fleshlumpeater by grabbing his arm. He's already been established as being scared of the other giants, Fleshlumpeater in particular.
  • Physical God: The Giants are very close to being so.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: The giants are far more juvenile, bickering, petty creatures in this version, Fleshlumpeater in particular — in his very first scene, he barges into the BFG's home to demand he fix a "boo-boo" on his finger, ends up snottily arguing with him, and steals his frobscottle.
  • Rage Breaking Point: After the giants trash his lab and break all the dream jars, on top of Fleshlumpeater coming dangerously close to finding Sophie, the BFG gets infuriated enough to chase them out with a lit firepoker to their bums.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Queen of England, who, in part thanks to the dream she was given, fully supports Sophie and the BFG and is kind to them the entire time.
  • Satellite Character: The rest of the evil giants. Unlike the book and animated film, they just serve as onlookers who occasionally parrot whatever the Fleshlumpeater says. And unlike the book and animated version, wherein each giant goes to a different location in the world to feed on "human beans", these giants are so far from characterization that all nine of them go to the human world together. Admittedly they did this on one night in the book as well, but it was stated that it was an rare thing for all of them to go somewhere together.
  • Shout-Out: Sophie finds a red children's coat amidst the clothes the BFG gives her, which also turns out to have belonged to a dead child.
    • The BFG's drawing of a giraffe came from The Giraffe, The Pelly and Me, also by Dahl and Blake.
  • Skyward Scream: The mean giants let lose a scream to the skies when opening a crate full of snozzcumber seeds, realizing it's all they have to eat on the island they've been stranded on.
  • Time Abyss: The BFG says at one point he's as old as the Earth itself when asked.
  • To Serve Man: The other giants eat humans, who they refer to as "beans".
  • Villainous BSoD: Invoked: the BFG and Sophie use the nightmare that Sophie caught earlier, namely one of tremendous guilt, on the giants. While Fleshlumpeater manages to avoid it, the others are pretty much crippled by guilt as a result of it.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: As powerful and intimidating as they are, the evil giants are all terrified of water. Presumably they leave and return to the Giant Country by jumping. The British Military imprison them on a remote abandoned island in the middle of nowhere where they can't get off.
  • Will-o'-the-Wisp: Dreams take the form of glowing light orbs, born from starlight filtered through a dream tree's leaves. Nightmares look more monstrous and spider-like, and are often clawing to break free and attack. This is a bit contrary to the book where the dreams are invisible unless placed inside a jar, and the BFG uses his hearing to catch them.
  • Wish-Fulfillment: In-universe; the BFG gives a sleeping boy a dream of being phoned personally by the President of the USA, while his dad gapes and faints in shock.