A child’s perspective on the world is different from that of an adult’s. That’s a seemingly obvious statement, but it’s one that we may not always consciously consider. Not only does a child’s limited life experience affect the way they comprehend conflict and solutions, but their physical smallness gives them quite literally a different point of view on the things that surround them. The world is an almost incomprehensibly large place, intimidating and filled with wonder in equal measure. Like adults, kids need stories to help them process the world – to feel empowered and to find their place – but the stories kids tell are very different from the kinds of stories adults tell. We adults like structure and patterns and our stories reflect that. We divide our tales into acts and sequences and scenes, each with its own set of established rules. You can go out and buy a hundred or more different books that will tell you on exactly which page your story should hit certain beats in order to be considered ‘correct.’ Even the stories that violate these rules generally do so with an understanding of them. “You have to know the rules in order to break them,” or so the old saying goes, but when a kid creates a story of make believe, they are not breaking the rules out of a clever sense of subversion, they’re telling a story with the unspoiled innocence of someone who doesn’t even realize that there are supposed to be rules in the first place. They tell stories that are absurd and oddly paced with conflicts that are perhaps not clearly defined and resolutions that are maybe too abrupt.
Steven Spielberg is someone who most assuredly knows the ‘rules’ of storytelling. These days, it’s popular to forget this, but Spielberg is a master of moviemaking. He’s a man who seems to feel cinema all the way down to his bones. He can communicate through the language of film more effectively than most of us can in our native tongue. In a single wordless shot, he is able to convey incredibly complex ideas that effortlessly connect with even the most casual of moviegoers. Recognized or not, Spielberg is our greatest living filmmaker, and he knows how storytelling works, which makes it fascinating that The BFG’s story is told as if by a child.