I love behind the scenes extras on home releases. In particular, I love anything that allows for a glimpse into the process of the Beard himself: Mr. Steven Spielberg. It was the 75 minute documentary included on the 25th Anniversary Jaws DVD that kickstarted my fascination with filmmaking and in fact made me finally realize that films don’t simply exist, they are in fact built from the ground up. These kinds of peaks behind the scenes keep the romance of filmmaking alive for me, and indeed the features on the new release of Spielberg’s latest, The BFG, do not disappoint.
The main featurette following the entire development and production of the film acts as a brief summation of Roald Dahl’s influence as a writer, Spielberg’s history with project, as well as star Ruby Barnhill’s video diary on the set. As welcome as it is to see the cast and crew’s experiences on the film and the process through which it was made (I am in awe of the technology used in the pre visual “rehearsal”) I particularly enjoy the small moments showcasing the atmosphere on set: Mark Rylance and Barnhill bouncing off one another, Penelope Wilton admitting surprise at Spielberg knowing her work, and Spielberg playing ping pong with Rylance while a small dog walks about on the table (with Spielberg actually bouncing the ball to the dog so that he catches it in his mouth).
The film proper mentions a previous friend the BFG made long ago who was lost to the other giants. His story and friendship with the BFG are portrayed in a little short film narrated by the by and depicted though his Dahl-esque illustrations. Another nice expanded detail on the world of the film.
Mention is made of Dahl creating an entire lexicon for use by the BFG character, which is put to heavy use within the film. Another small feature details the various invented words, their proper use and meaning. Demonstrating the expansive work on the unique linguistics used by the giants of the film.
A separate segment is dedicated to the creating the giants themselves. From the actors portraying the characters in motion capture suits finding the voices and physicality of the giants to the visual effects artists bringing them to the screen.
The final featurette acts as a tribute to screenwriter Melissa Mathison, who was reunited with Spielberg on The BFG after writing E.T. The Extraterrestrial. Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Rick Carter, and Robert Stromberg reflect on her influence, dedication, and work throughout her career and her final project: The BFG.
In addition to recreating the film for personal viewing, home releases can offer great insight into the films we love. Every add-on to The BFG’s Blu-ray is a welcome addition, showing the wonder of creating the film and the memories that it has now created. It’s always a treat to find these small moments behind the scenes.
The BFG is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.