ROALD DAHL’S STORIES AND THE AGE OF CGI
Roald Dahl crafted many stories that charmed, inspired, and fascinated not only children but adults the world over. My first introduction to the works of Roald Dahl came in the form of The BFG which incidentally enough is going to be one of Steven Spielberg’s next movies. The BFG tells the story of Sophie who befriends a BFG (Big friendly Giant) whose job it is to bring dreams, which are bottled up, to sleeping children ‘s rooms every night. Their adventures together takes them far and wide and at one point they end up meeting the Queen of England in a wonderful story that, with today’s technology would really be brought to life in an extraordinary way in the cinema.
But that isn’t what Roald Dahl intended when he wrote the story was it? To me, children’s books are meant to engage and expand the mind of the child and enable him/her to dream up and fill in the blanks that the illustrator didn’t put into pictures on the pages of the book. The illustrations are an aid to help guide the child and enable them to come up with their own sense of what the world actually looks, smell, feels, sounds and at times, tastes like. It’s something that the movie’s cannot as yet do and if children’s books are translated wholeheartedly into movies, will we be taking this opportunity away from them, the chance to fill the world that they can create in their own heads instead of a world that someone else creates for them?
I’m of two minds about this, on the one hand, the adults who read the books will want to see what the translation looks like and if the filmmakers have got it right the way that they themselves had envisioned the world like as kids all those years ago. The kids on the other hand are in my view at risk of having their imagined world destroyed or taken away by the imagined world of someone else. Let us say a child who has just read “The BFG” goes to see the movie version and likes the movie as children are likely to do. They are not equipped with the same tools to critique the choices that the directors made, they are likely to take in the world they have just seen and incorporate it or completely override their world that they had created with the new one that they had just seen. I am not saying that children’s stories shouldn’t be translated into movies, I’m just asking a question of what does it do to the imaginations of children who grow up having seen someone else’s interpretation without having gone through the world building process that other generations kind of went through before the age of CGI? I have no answer to this question, it probably is a non -question in the first place but I think it’s an important one that should be considered. All in all, it will be interesting to see what Steven Spielberg’s version of “The BFG” will look like.
Transitioning stories from the pages of a book to the big screen hasn’t always gone smoothly. Either way, The written words will remain, forever there for those who will want to dream, imagine for themselves what the movie was unable to bring to life.