In my experience the movie version of a book is almost never as good as the actual book. I’ve resisted watching several movies based on books I love, because I’ve worried that the story on screen may somehow ruin the story and the images that formed in my head. Or I worry that the screenwriters, actors, and directors just won’t get it right.
When I saw that Roald Dahl’s The BFG, one of my favorite books from my childhood, was coming to the Big Screen, I was a bit skeptical. How could the story on screen ever live up to the story that my 10-year-old self had created in her mind? Yes, Steven Spielberg may be one of the best directors of our time, but how could he possibly know just how the Big Friendly Giant looked in my imagination? Could the filmmakers find the perfect girl to play Sophie?
With the renewed excitement of The BFG, my library decided to host a family book discussion of the book, and then we planned an excursion to see the movie together at the local cinema. It was a joy to read the book again, and we had an engaging and thoughtful book discussion. I enjoyed the book and the discussion so much that I was more skeptical than ever about seeing the movie.
The movie turned out to be really entertaining. The effects were great. It was magical. It was Steven Spielberg, after all. But as imaginative and as good as it was, it just wasn’t as good as the book. It never is. I’m glad The BFG made it to the Big Screen though, because it inspired many kids and families to read the book. Because my library now owns twelve copies of The BFG and all but one copy is checked out right now. Because thirty-four years after it was published, The BFG has resurfaced and has held the number one spot on the New York Times Children’s Best Seller list for the past five weeks. And most of all, because after the movie I overheard a 10-year-old girl tell her friend, “That was really good, but it was nowhere near as good as the book.”