The BFG: A Text-Film Pair Review

Written by: Fatyn Iwany

Most of the time, the producers often make the novel-to-film adaptations as to give a life to the story that might be outdated, for example, the novel by Roald Dahl entitled The BFG that was published in 1982 has been adapted into a 2017 film by Stephen Spielberg.

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According to Spielberg, a well-known director that has directed countless box office films, he is attracted to the whole story of The BFG by Dahl, as it shows that the size of one’s heart is what really matters in life. He also stated that the relationship between the main characters is the element that brings a life into the film, as there is an apparent chemistry that sparks between both of them, and Spielberg adds that is the beauty of the novel and the film that he is making at that time.

These are some of the reasons on why he chooses the original work of Roald Dahl to be adapted into a film.

The BFG, which the acronym of the title stands for ‘The Big Friendly Giant’, an original story by Dahl that is been adapted into a live action movie by Spielberg, tells a story of the heroine, Sophie, a fearless little girl who befriended a gangling giant, that is known as the Big Friendly Giant (BFG) throughout the story.

On one night, Sophie was kidnapped by the giant, whom she saw lurking in the dark, down the alley across the orphanage that she lived in. He then took her to the world of giants – Giant Country – where Sophie met all sorts of giants, from the nicest one like BFG to the meanest giants that favour children as their meals. At the Giant Country, Sophie had teamed up with BFG to take down all the mean giants by manipulating their dreams, as the BFG’s main occupation is catching dreams, where he will blow the dreams into one’s sleeping body using an enormous trumpet.

In the story, Sophie and BFG have got some helps from Queen Elizabeth, whom lend them a hand in capturing all those giants and punished them for their crimes.

The adaptation of ‘The BFG’ novel into the live action movie can be considered as a loose adaptation, as there are some differences between both of them.

The loose adaptation of the novel means that the director might only adapted the original plot, the idea of the story and the characters, with some alteration made to those parts. It can be seen that the story line in the novel is somewhat different from the story line that is being portrayed in the movie. The elements that caused the pair to stand out as the work of the adaptation are based on the characters’ build up, the choice of word plays, and the flow of the story line.

As I read the novel and watched the movie, there are some differences in the characteristics of the main characters in both The BFG novel and also the movie.

As compared to the movie, Sophie’s character in the novel is being portrayed as a clever girl, but not beyond as one’s expectation of a third-grade little girl. Meanwhile in the movie, Sophie is also being portrayed as a clever girl, but with advanced characteristics for an 8-year old girl (Martinelli, 2016).

For the characteristic of the BFG in the novel, he had no backstory with human beings as Sophie is the first human that he interacted with and brought to the Giant Country. Meanwhile, in the movie, the BFG had a backstory with the human beings, as he once had a human visitor who is a little boy wearing a red jacket, long before the boy became a feast to the other giants (Martinelli, 2016).

The other difference that possessed by both novel and movie is the usage of wordplays or also known as the puns. Dahl, the author of The BFG novel is known to public in using puns in his writings.

In the novel, Dahl used the puns as the wicked humour in describing the characteristic of the giants that favour to gobble up the children, keeping the horrific situation in the funny context. But, it comes to a complete different approach of the use of puns in the movie version. This is because Dahl’s wicked humour is basically being completely avoided by Spielberg, as he did not want to display the horrid fact of the giants eating up the children as a funny matter (Martinelli, 2016).

Besides, the director of the film version of The BFG, Spielberg, had put a twist to the original ending of the novel.

According to the ending by Spielberg, Sophie has been adopted by the secretary of Queen Elizabeth and has settled down at the palace. The BFG then returned to Giant Country and writes about his adventures with Sophie. In this version, they are not seeing each other again, but sometimes BFG could hear Sophie is calling to him. Meanwhile, for the original ending in the novel, it has a happy ending for both of the mains. As been told in the novel, Queen Elizabeth had built a special house for the BFG right next to her palace, and Sophie also live next door to BFG in a little cottage in order to tutor BFG, as to improve his English.

All of those differences that been highlighted are the proofs that the movie version of The BFG is indeed the loose adaptation from the original work or novel written by Roald Dahl. In the other hand, Spielberg has retained the plot of the story, on how the girl met with the friendly giant, their journey to the land of the giants, the defeating of the mean giants with the help from the Queen and how they end their journey together. Aside from the plot of the story, Spielberg has also retained the original name of the giants that Dahl has included in the novel, such as Fleshlumpeater, Bloodbottler, and Childchewer (Robinson, 2016).



Martinelli, M. (2016, July 05). How Faithful Is Steven Spielberg’s The BFG to Roald Dahl’s Novel? A Breakdown. Retrieved June 25, 2018, from

Robinson, T. (2016, July 01). Steven Spielberg’s The BFG is missing Roald Dahl’s usual delirious malice. Retrieved June 25, 2018, from adaptation-steven-spielberg-roald-dahl



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