thu 13/06/2024

DVD: The Selfish Giant | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: The Selfish Giant

DVD: The Selfish Giant

Affecting parable described by the director as a modern fairy story

A quiet moment with Arbor (Connor Chapman) in ‘The Selfish Giant’

The DVD release of this devastating film brings its impact even closer. Watching it at home is a squirm-inducing experience which brings moments where it’s hard to fight the urge to leave the room or put your hands in front of your face.

The overpowering effect stems from more than the discomfort of watching the young boys Arbor and Swifty attempting to navigate through a world which is against them, out to exploit them and, ultimately, probably going to exclude them despite the integrity of their friendship.

The Selfish Giant hinges on the extraordinary, magnetic presences of Connor Chapman as the brittle, small, angular and blond Arbor and Shaun Thomas as the reserved, slightly older, warmer and dark Swifty. Director Clio Barnard’s narrative is linear but still effortlessly yields surprises which shock. Although a work of fiction, everything feels naturalistic and true to life. Nonetheless, it is inspired by Oscar Wilde’s short story of the same name where a child is – too late – discovered to be Christ. Nothing in Barnard’s film draws literally from Wilde’s tale and there is no such discovery but this is a parable.

In one of the DVD extras, which also include deleted scenes and an alternate ending, the eloquent Barnard acknowledges the tradition her “fairy story” is in: Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thieves, Truffaut’s 400 Blows, Samira Makhmalbaf’s The Apple, Ken Loach and The Dardenne Brothers. Shades of Bruno Dumont are evident too. All of this points to The Selfish Giant as the filmic equivalent of a dose of medicine. It is not. Although challenging, it is warm and enthralling. In the same interview, Chapman and Thomas’s self-awareness shines. “I went for the part that has smaller lines,” admits Chapman. Yet he ended up in the role of the more voluble Arbor.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Overleaf: watch Connor Chapman and Shaun Thomas discussing The Selfish Giant


Watch Connor Chapman and Shaun Thomas discussing The Selfish Giant

Although challenging, 'The Selfish Giant' is warm and enthralling


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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