With the Stephen Spielberg-directed big-screen version of the much-loved Roald Dahl book The BFG hitting cinemas in the UK today, we take a look at the fabulous British locations that provide stunning backdrops for this delightful tale.
Isle of Skye, Inner Hebrides
The Isle of Skye was used for wide, cinematic shots of the Giant’s Land. With the isle offering a wide array of landscape, from mountains, to cliffs, to lochs and moors, it is no wonder that the beautiful Isle of Skye was chosen for the panoramic shots. Furthermore, the history of the island is rich, from castles to battles, with a quality in the air that would fill anyone with amazement. Many of the castles here were built by Scottish Clan Chiefs in the 12th century. The Isle of Skye is located in the west of Scotland, and can be visited at any time of year.
The Shiant Isles, Outer Hebrides
In the language of Scottish Gaelic, ‘Shiant’ means ‘charmed’, or ‘enchanted’. These charming islands just north of the Isle of Skye , were also used for cinematic shots, on account of their beauty. The area also attracts a large variety of birds, such as puffins, guillemots, or great skuas. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Islands had a population of just eight and has not much changed, since the islands are privately owned, although they are open to tourists.
The Old Man of Hoy, Orkney
Although never in the foreground of the film, this landmark is ever-present in the background during giant scenes. Located around the Orkney islands, this is one of the tallest sea stacks in Britain. Yet, despite being one of the tallest, it is also one of the newest, having only formed around 250 years ago. The stack is best seen in the summer, when the skies are clear, and the seas are calm. However, there are concerns that the sea stack might collapse soon: a 40m-crack was found in the stack, leaving the top overhanging. Visit it soon! The Old Man of Hoy can be reaching by sailing from northeastern Scotland.
Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland
In a part of the world not normally associated with sunny beaches, Bamburgh is spectacular. On one side sits the ancient Bamburgh castle and on the other a clear view of the Farne Islands – David Attenborough’s favourite place to see nature. See for yourself where the BFG’s footprints were washed away by the tide, and where he stayed while on his quest. The first records of the area are of Bamburgh Castle, dated to around 400 AD. This castle was home to the Din Guarie, a group of native Britons. After ownership passed through many hands, the Vikings destroyed many of the fortifications in 993 AD.
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
While Scotland was home to the landscapes and the scenery in The BFG, England offered stately homes with a . This spacious palace, home to the Dukes of Marlborough, is open to the public, including the palace itself, park and gardens. Recapture the wonder of the film through the breathtaking interior and exterior of one of England’s largest homesteads. The palace was built between 1705 and 1722 and made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987. Blenheim was built to reward the Duke of Marlborough’s efforts against the French and the Bavarians in the war of Spanish succession. However, the man for whom the palace was intended fell into disrepute before it was finished, and never inhabited it. With an incredible story surrounding Blenheim, it’s a great place to visit.
Buckingham Palace, London
This is easily the most recognisable location in the film. Shown when Sophie and the BFG talk to the Queen, Buckingham Palace serves as an important part of the story. However, to visit Buckingham Palace is not to set foot on a film set, but to set foot into a world of royalty and majesty. Located in the city of Westminster, this was originally built as a townhouse for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703. At this time, it was known as Buckingham House. It was renamed ‘The Queen’s House’ in 1761, when Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, wanted a residential home. It is currently the London residence of the British monarch but only became so in 1837, on the accession of Queen Victoria. Now, due to the reigning monarch living there, Buckingham Palace is the focal point of national celebration. It is open to tourists in the summer, when the Queen moves to her residential home in Scotland.
Words: Khusrau Islam