The BFG (1989 film)
by Roald Dahl
|Screenplay by||John Hambley|
|Directed by||Brian Cosgrove|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Executive producer(s)||John Hambley|
|Running time||88 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Cosgrove Hall Films|
|Distributor||Boat Rocker Media|
The BFG is a 1989 British animated made-for-television film produced by Cosgrove Hall Films and based on the 1982 novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. It was directed by Brian Cosgrove and written by John Hambley. The film was first shown on 25 December 1989 on ITV in the UK. It was Cosgrove Hall Films' first and only full-length film.
The film was dedicated to animator George Jackson, who had worked on numerous Cosgrove Hall productions before his death in 1986. It was also the last and posthumous role of Ballard Berkeley (voice of the Head of the Army), who died in 1988.
Sophie is a young orphaned girl living in the orphanage of the cantankerous and abusive Mrs. Clonkers. One night, Sophie wakes up and goes to look through the window but sees a cloaked giant blowing something through a trumpet into a bedroom window down the street; whereupon the giant notices her and snatches her to the realm of Giant Country.
In his cave, the giant identifies himself as the Big Friendly Giant (the BFG for short) who blows dreams into the bedrooms of children at night, while all the other 9 giants are vicious, child-eating beasts. Because the BFG refuses to eat people or steal food from humans, he subsists on a revolting vegetable known as a "Snozzcumber", which is all that grows in Giant Country. He explains to Sophie that he took her so that she couldn't tell anyone that she had seen him and start a giant hunt. Sophie and BFG quickly become friends; but Sophie is soon put in danger by the sudden arrival of the Bloodbottler Giant, who suspects BFG of harbouring a human after hearing him talking. The BFG tricks the Bloodbottler into eating part of the horrid-tasting Snozzcumber to repel him from his cave, during which Sophie (who had been hiding inside the gooey center of the Snozzcumber) is almost eaten. BFG makes her a new dress out of her blanket to replace her ruined nightgown. When Sophie announces she is thirsty, BFG treats her to a delicious fizzy drink called "Frobscottle", whose bubbles go downwards, which causes the drinker to flatulate; this is known as a "whizzpopper" to giants, and causes the drinker to soar and shoot around the place.
The next morning, BFG takes Sophie to Dream Country to catch more dreams, but they are first tormented by the other giants along the way; notably by the Fleshlumpeater Giant, who is the leader of the giants and the largest and most fearsome and hideous. In Dream Country, BFG demonstrates his dream-catching skills to Sophie and teaches her to fly; but BFG also captures a nightmare which he says is the worst kind of dream. Upon arriving at his Dream Cave, BFG shows Sophie all the dreams he has captured already and locks away the nightmare in his cavern of lava in a tiny chest which contains various other nightmares he's captured, and takes Sophie to watch him on his dream-blowing duties; but this is cut short when the Fleshlumpeater devours a little boy whom BFG had previously given a pleasant dream. Sophie tries to intervene, but BFG flees with her to keep her safe. Afterwards, the grief-stricken Sophie tries to persuade BFG to stop the evil giants.
At first, BFG is reluctant to do so out of cowardliness and low trust in humans; but Sophie develops a plan to expose the evil giants to the Queen of the United Kingdom. Using dreams from his collection, BFG creates a nightmare, blows it into the Queen's bedroom, leaves Sophie on the Queen's windowsill to confirm the dream, and retreats into the palace gardens, re-emerging when Sophie calls to him. Because the dream included foreknowledge of Sophie's presence, the Queen believes her story, and speaks with BFG. After considerable effort by the palace staff, BFG is given a copious breakfast.
Once ready, the army and the air force, in a fleet of RAF Chinook helicopters, follow BFG to Giant Country to the 9 giants' homeland, where the giants are tied up and taken prisoner. The only giant at large is Fleshlumpeater, who immediately attacks BFG for his betrayal and later pursues Sophie when she intervenes; but after a long chase he is stopped when BFG subdues him with the nightmare he had captured earlier, which he later reveals was a nightmare about Jack and his beanstalk, both of which all giants, including BFG himself, fear.
The tethered giants are then all transported by the helicopters to London, where they are imprisoned in a deep metal pit and forced to eat Snozzcumbers for the rest of their lives. The orphanage is closed down so the children move into the palace and Mrs. Clonkers is given the job of feeding giants. Contrary to the book's ending, BFG and Sophie return to Giant Country instead of staying in England.
- David Jason as the BFG
- Amanda Root as Sophie
- Angela Thorne as Queen Elizabeth II
- Don Henderson as the Bloodbottler, the Fleshlumpeater and the Sergeant
- Frank Thornton as Mr. Tibbs
- Mollie Sugden as Mary
- Michael Knowles as Head of Air Force
- Ballard Berkeley as Head of Army
- Myfanwy Talog as Mrs. Clonkers
- Jimmy Hibbert as Additional voices
I painted a watercolour of how we saw him. I got a lovely note back from Dahl saying it was perfect, he was right behind it, and to just get on and do it. Sophie, the little girl who befriends the BFG, was easy. I had read that Dahl based her on his granddaughter, Sophie Dahl. At the time she wore John Lennon glasses, so we took it from there.
Possible deleted scene
Following its release, various children's books based on the film were published, one being a short narrative that featured printed still-shots of scenes from the film. However, two pages consisted of some from a scene which was not featured in the original cut.
Taking place before the BFG and Sophie arrive at his Dream Cave, the two are on their way back from Dream Country when they again approach the other giant's domain. Sophie is somehow separated and placed in peril when she accidentally sits upon a giant Dragonfly that flies off and drops her amongst the sleeping giants, who begin to stir from her scent. The BFG rescues her before they awake and begin scouring the land, convinced there is a human present.
The shot of the giants departing is later reused in the film as part of the Queen's nightmare of them and their heinous acts. As of yet though, no media release has ever featured this supposed deleted scene.
Writing in The Sunday Times before its broadcast, Patrick Stoddart called it a "delight", and wrote that it "puts its already celebrated British animators, Cosgrove Hall, into the Disney class". It has since gone on to be a cult classic.
In 2012, Louisa Mellor, of the Den of Geek website, stated that "Cosgrove Hall's twenty-seven year old animated feature may be less of a technical feat than the latter and was certainly made for a fraction of the budget, but that doesn't make it any less a whoppsy-whiffling, razztwizzling tribute to a terrific story."
Roald Dahl's reaction
This film was one of the few adaptations of Dahl's works to get praise from the author himself. Cosgrove said that after Dahl sat through a screening of the film, he stood up and applauded in delight.
When we finished, we ran a screening in Soho, and Dahl and his family came along. They were sitting at the back, and when the film finished they stood up and applauded. He could be quite vocal, Dahl, if he didn't like something. He didn't like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at all, the 1971 Gene Wilder one. So it was a real relief that he liked our film.
The film was first released on VHS by Video Collection International in 1990 (with Thorn EMI's Thames Video), and again in 1995 and 1997 in the United Kingdom.
Roadshow Home Video and ABC Video released the film on VHS in Australia in 1992, while its first video release in the United States was by Celebrity Home Entertainment in 1996.
Other releases followed in 2008 by Fremantle Home Entertainment's release. The American DVD release was distributed by Celebrity Home Entertainment in 1999 and A&E Home Video in 2006.
In 2012, Fremantle Home Entertainment released a digitally restored DVD and Blu-ray Disc in widescreen; although premiering in 1.33:1 format on television, the film was originally made in 1.85:1.
In 2016, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment UK released the film on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.
Keith Hopwood's and Malcolm Rowe's original score to The BFG was completed by Pluto Music Limited and released in 2016 by Pluto Music Limited and FremantleMedia. The album contains the entire score as heard in the film in chronological order. Keith Hopwood gave an interview in June 2016 in which he told the story on how the score was composed and stylized:
"Early in 1986 Malcolm Rowe and I were asked by Cosgrove Hall to compose the score for Roald Dahl’s The BFG, which they were about to produce as an animated feature. We had a good relationship with Mark Hall and Brian Cosgrove, having just completed the feature and several series of The Wind in the Willows. This was an exciting 2 year project, scoring the world of Giant Country, home of Frobscottle, Snozzcumbers and Whizzpoppers, with of course the Big Friendly Giant and his new friend Sophie. The score production was an intentional mix of very synthesized pieces, and large orchestral sections for the action sequences."
- The Vortex & Arrival 0:43
- The Owl’s Flight 1:34
- Giant in the Street 1:49
- The Getaway 1:29
- Journey through Giantland 1:41
- You Snitched Me 1:41
- Bloodbottler in the Cave 2:01
- Sophie’s Bath 1:36
- Whizzpopping! (sung by David Jason) 2:40
- Dusk to Dawn 0:51
- Dream Country 3:29
- Sometimes Secretly 1:54
- Insects! Part 1 0:43
- Insects! Part 2 1:13
- The Dream Cave 1:39
- The Fishing Village 1:53
- The Boy’s Dream 1:12
- Flight to Buckingham Palace 0:58
- The Queen’s Dream 1:13
- This is The BFG 0:33
- Helicopter Flight to Vortex 2:45
- Vortex to Landing 1:00
- Giant Round Up 1:40
- Giant Awake 2:02
- Still Loose 0:48
- Fleshlumpeater 1 1:15
- Fleshlumpeater 2 2:52
- Choppers Return 1:52
- The End 2:48
- Two Worlds, vocals Paul Young and Sharon Campbell 3:38
- Mirror Mirror (Sophie’s Theme), vocals Sharon Campbell 3:47
- Sometimes Secretly (Full Length Version), vocals Sharon Campbell 3:03
Awards and nominations
|1990||BAFTA Awards||Best Children's Programme (Entertainment/Drama)||Brian Cosgrove & Mark Hall||Nominated|
- The BFG, the 2016 live action feature
- "The BFG (1989)". BBFC. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
- "Looking back at The BFG (1989) - Den of Geek". Retrieved August 29, 2016.
- "How we made The BFG by director Brian Cosgrove and Ben Turner - Film - The Guardian". Retrieved July 10, 2016.
- "The BFG (1989) - Rotten Tomatoes". Retrieved July 10, 2016.
- Stoddart, Patrick (24 December 1989). "Christmas comes but not this year – Television networks". The Sunday Times. London.
- "The BFG: Big Friendly Giant movie by Brian Cosgrove - Available on Blu-ray, DVD - Alibris UK Movies". Retrieved July 10, 2016.
- "The BFG Digitally Restored Edition [Blu-ray]  - Discount Toy Store". Retrieved July 10, 2016.
- "The BFG (TV Movie 1989) - Technical Specifications - IMDb". Retrieved 2016-07-23.
- "The BFG - Awards - IMDb". Retrieved July 9, 2016.