BFG (2016)

  •   Freshest WOO moment: “I am your humbug servant,” says the word-bumbling BFG to the Queen of England.  We all remember this scornful accusation hurled at the great and powerful Wizard of Oz when Toto revealed he was nothing more than a humble little man ‘behind the curtain’.
  •  The film and trailers showcase an open window, the curtain blowing inward, the tempting light and Sophie’s irresistible urge (despite sensible warnings to herself) to peek out.   She spies what she ought not to have seen, resulting of course in the giant being forced to abduct her.

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    Top to bottom: BFG, Wizard of Oz, Poltergeist
  • They fly in soaring leaps against the moonlit blue sky recalling shots from E.T.  Transcending reality by means of flight to enchanted lands is standard Spielberg/WOO fare.
  •  I was amused by the scene where the squadron of British helicopters must follow BFG to the land of giants.  In other Spielberg projects such aerial armies hearken back to flying monkeys.  Here he reverses himself and they are portrayed instead as a promenade of solidarity for Sophie’s cause.  Natch—flying monkey references always denote evil.
  • This seems like a good time to point out Spielberg’s essential theme: Sophie’s overwhelming desire to return ‘home’, complicated by the conflict that ‘home’ is no longer safe from marauding giants.
  • Leading of course to the requisite ‘quest’, to stop the evil giants.
  • Steven’s mysterious recurring green goo gets another cameo as Sophie emerges from the snozzcumber.
  • The set for BFG’s house is whirring with cyclonic motion, spinning water wheels, circulating wheel barrels, even Steven’s beloved bicycle re-tooled as a hand mixer to whip up the ingredients for the queen’s dream.
  • Finally I must point out yet again prodigious use of red and yellow, (Steven’s homage to RG color space?)  I noted it first with the little red jacket Sophie turns inside out to spare BFG his painful memories.  Its subtle tones of scarlet and ochre enhance her chameleon goldish-red glasses and her blushing lips.  Later I detected that even her shabby nightgown was sporting a faded pattern of red and yellows. The pigment duo boldly moves to multiple repetitions of crimson and gold at the queen’s palace: the guards, servants, walls and carpets.
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TWISTER 1996 (PRODUCED)

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  • Hello, Cyclone!  You will see a cow(or two) flying by mooing just like in Dorothy’s version and a boat—minus the fisherman. In fact, producer Spielberg’s tornado is chockfull of goodTwister cow stuff.   I think I even spotted the insane tractor trailer from Duel!  See War of the Worlds, Super 8, Poltergeist for more cyclonic ‘clinking, clanking, clattering collections of caligenous junk’.
  • The intro shows a defining moment in Jo’s childhood when a tornado unexpectedly strikes in the middle of the night.  On her bed is a Toto-like terrier named Toby who, despite scampering at Toto-speed, almost doesn’t make it into the storm cellar. See The Adventures of Tintin.  Also see War of the Worlds for another unsafe storm cellar!
  • Is it me or does Jo’s old farmhouse sport that ‘air of grayness’?  Re-occurs when Bill prepares  ‘Dorothy’ in the hailstorm; there is a shot up the curving, hilly road with fence-posts.  The color washes away to black and white and—for a moment—viewer is back in Kansas. The absence of color hints things may get a bit hopeless. See E.T. the Extraterrestrial, War Horse, Schindler’s List, Twister, Joe Vs. the Volcano, Twilight Zone the Movie Kick the can Episode, Poltergeist. 
  • The telemetrical prototype is named ‘Dorothy’.
  • Looked to me like the footbridge Jo and Bill cower under during first tornado was identical to  Victor Fleming’s old fave in WOO and GWTW. See A.I. for more detail on similar sets.
  • At the drive-in, Bill’s new girlfriend is in her room when a gust suddenly blows the window curtain inward.  This is a classic Spielberg sign that life is about to radically change for her as it did for Dorothy after the bedroom window knocked her out cold.  Sure enough, Melissa breaks up with Bill moments later. See Empire of the Sun, Catch Me if You Can, Hook, Twilight Zone the Movie Kick the can Episode, Joe vs. the Volcano, Poltergeist. 
  • We glimpse Judy Garland on the TV at Aunt Meg’s house before the F-5 hits.
  • Aunt Meg’s artwork consists of giant whirligigs that chime conspicuously to warn us the Big One is coming.  When Jo gets the idea of how to make the measuring devices inside ‘Dorothy’ fly, we hear chimes.  Chimes sound again when the pinwheels fly up inside the twister.  WOO always forewarned us of Glinda’s approaching magic with chimes.   See Always, A.I., E. T.,The Color Purple, Jaws, Close Encounters, Empire of the Sun, Super 8, Twister, Twilight Zone, Joe vs. the Volcano, Poltergeist.
  • At one point, in F-5 you will see an exact replica of Gales’ farmhouse roll by on its side—an amusing twist on the classic shot of its rooftop from above shown in WOO and other Spielberg films. See Minority Report, Raiders of the Lost Arc, Close Encounters.
  • The main characters dash on foot through a field of sunflowers…a sure sign they will prevail over trials ahead.  Certainly the WOO companions did after surviving the poppies. Fields test characters and generally mark turning points in Steven’s works. See Always, Saving Private Ryan, The Color Purple, Lost World Jurassic Park.
  • Interesting references to Sugarland Express: the entourage of rival black SUV’s that dog Bill’s company echo back to that long line of cop cars.
  • Also a repeat of the red and yellow color scheme can be found at the drive-in.  See Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Schindler’s List, Jaws, 1941, Joe vs. the Volcano, Inner Space, Jurassic Park, Used Cars, Sugarland Express, Poltergeist for other homages to the red and yellow commercial for Technicolor devised by WOO.
  • Also Jo and Bill defy Lou Jean’s opinion that ‘it don’t do no good runnin from a tornado‘ by doing exactly that! See  Minority Report, War Horse, WOO for references to “Run, Toto, run”.
  • Despite the utter destruction wreaked by the F-5, the conclusion shows a family’s home unscathed. The haven untouched. Sanctuary. See See Twister, Close Encounters, Empire of the Sun, Catch me if You Can, Minority Report, Amistad, The Color Purple, Munich, Poltergeist, The Terminal for safety of home.