This is a child-friendly guide; some of the discussion questions are for younger viewers. The BFG is rated PG for mild threat.
The Scoop – A delight from start to finish, The BFG sees Spielberg bottle Roald Dahl’s magic.
Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) knows how to stay safe from the monsters that lurk in the small hours of the night. Don’t get out of bed. Don’t go to the window. Don’t pull back the curtain.
But when she catches a glimpse of a huge, shadowy figure lurking outside the London orphanage where she lives, Sophie can’t help herself. The giant (Mark Rylance) snatches her away and carries her off to the ramshackle cave where he lives – but it turns out that he’s nothing to be afraid of. In fact this big, friendly, word-mangling, dream-catching creature needs help defeating some monsters of his own.
Roald Dahl’s The BFG was such a fixture of my childhood that it’s quite hard to even think about the story without feeling a bit sentimental. Add to that my excitement at seeing Spielberg collaborate with Mark Rylance again, and you could say that my expectations for this film were pretty high.
I was completely swept away. The BFG is a lovely, lovely thing, a children’s story which almost equals 2014’s Paddington for charm, inventiveness and heart. Ruby Barnhill makes a plucky, no-nonsense heroine, and Rylance is just as lovable and otherworldly as the BFG should be. Their friendship blossoms as we see the mismatched pair navigate each others’ respective worlds, and discover how similar they are at heart. Add to this some stunning visuals and a perfectly judged turn from Penelope Wilton as the Queen of England, and you’ve got a mixture as delicious as frobscottle.
- Did you enjoy the film, and why or why not? Which bits were your favourites?
- What did you think of Sophie? How does she feel about her life in the orphanage? How does her life change when she meets the BFG?
‘What kind of monster are you?’ – Sophie
- How did you feel about the BFG? Did you find him scary, and why or why not? Did you think he was funny?
- Why does the BFG get bullied by the other giants? How might it make him feel to be treated like this? What do you think makes some people bully others who are smaller or weaker than them?
‘You is an insult to giant people!’ – Fleshlumper (Jemaine Clement)
- How is Sophie a good friend to the BFG, and how is he a good friend to her? In what ways are they very different, and how might they actually be similar on the inside? What is good about being friends with people who are different from us?
- What is Sophie’s dream about, and how does it come true at the end of the story? If the BFG caught a dream for you, what might it look like?
- Sophie says that the BFG can ‘hear the world’s whispers’, and she knows that he can hear her even when they’re far apart. Who do you like to tell your secrets and your dreams to? How does it feel to know that someone – your family, a friend, a loved one – is always listening?
- If you’re familiar with Roald Dahl’s book, how did this screen adaptation compare? How does the film compare with Steven Spielberg’s other work? What do you think are his strengths and weaknesses as a filmmaker?
- How did you react to the film’s visuals, such as the motion capture effects used in Mark Rylance’s performance as the BFG? What visual moments in particular stood out to you?
- What did you think of Ruby Barnhill’s performance, and of Sophie as a heroine? Why do you think female protagonists are so rare in today’s live-action children’s films, and why might this be an issue?
- Why did you think of Mark Rylance’s performance as the BFG? How would you describe the character, and what might he represent? What does his unusual language add to the story?
‘What I says and what I means is two very different things.’ – The BFG
- How would you characterise Sophie and the BFG’s relationship? How do they each play the role of ‘child’ and of ‘parent’? What anxieties about parenting does the film explore?
- How does the film portray the experience of being a child? Do you think that loneliness is a universal experience in childhood, and why or why not? How do people deal with loneliness in adulthood?
‘We gets over it and we gets on with it.’ – The BFG
- The film shows the BFG experiencing unresolved guilt over a previous child he stole, a detail not in the book. Why do you think the screenwriter made this addition, and in your view does it give the character more depth? How does the BFG find peace in the end?
‘He says, look at what you has done. And there be no forgiveness.’ – The BFG
- What did you make of the BFG’s dream for Sophie’s future? In your view, is this a meaningful vision for a good life? What are your dreams for the children and young people you know?