Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

  • "There is no place I know that compares to pure imagination.” —Roald Dahl, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

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The book by Roald Dahl is full of fun, magic, and candy. This is truly a beloved children's story and has all the elements that would make for a fun, magical, and scrumptious movie. The book was published in the 1960's and made into a movie in the early 1970's. Roald Dahl had no qualms about turning this book into a movie. He was excited by the idea and wanted to write the screenplay himself. He wanted to try to stay as true to the book as possible. He was the original author, had the original vision and wanted to keep as true to his imaginative foundation as possible. Dahl's reaction to the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was hatred. Even though they had the original screenplay that Dahl wrote, he disliked the film intensely, so much so that he withheld the rights to make any sequels. However,the film was well-received at release and has since reached cult classic status.

Dahl’s estate continued to hold onto the story’s rights for decades, only releasing in 2005 to Tim Burton to remake it as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. With the visual style of Burton and his long-time partner Johnny Depp in the role of Wonka, the film had the promise of doing so much with the concept and what seemed like a genuine commitment to getting the story right. Dahl's widow Felicity was an executive producer on the film she was aware of the expectations. “An adaptation like this is daunting because I don't think there's a child in this world who hasn't read the story or knows about it. Every child wants to be Charlie.” She was delighted at how the creative team came together and how Roald's original images were interpreted on a grand scale, she called it, “the ideal combination: Roald Dahl, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, absolutely unbeatable and completely in sync” (Movies Central).

In the book Charlie Bucket, the main character had no distinct personality, but it is the reader who becomes Charlie, thus directly entering the story. The other children have behaviour problems, rather than characteristics/personalities. They symbolize various sins: Augustus Gloop, an obese boy with an extreme appetite for chocolate, symbolizes gluttony and lust; Veruca Salt, a spoiled rich girl, exemplifies selfishness, envy and greed; Violet Beauregard, a record holder in gum chewing, represents mindlessness and pride; and Mike Teavee, a television addict, personifies idleness. When they are punished the reader is satisfied, without feeling sorry for any of them. These concepts and moral lessons are the meat of the story. Of course the happy ending where the good child triumphs over the naughty children, thus reinforcing the idea that children should be pleasant, respectful, and obedient and there are tangible rewards for good behavior. Both movies stay true to these key elements of the story and characters. Another set of characters are the Oompa-Loompas both adaptations keep them and they are how the moral lesson is clarified and taught. In the original story they were little black people from Africa, but after having been accused of racism, Dahl changed them: they became little people with long, wavy hair from Loompaland. They live and work in the factory, and after each of the four children is punished, they sing songs.


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When actor Gene Wilder walked in to audition, Mel Stuart (the director) knew before he'd even uttered a single word that he had found his Willy Wonka. The audition convinced him even further, so when Wilder finished and left the room, Stuart chased him down the hallway, cut him off at the elevator bank, grabbed his arm and told him "You're doing this picture, two ways about it! You are Willy Wonka!" (Stuart).

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Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was released to critical praise was a box office success, grossing approximately $475 million worldwide (enotes.com).**



Development for another adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory began in 1991, which resulted in Warner Brothers Studios providing the Dahl Estate with total artistic control. Before Burton's involvement other well known directors had been involved, while Warner Bros. either considered or discussed the role of Willy Wonka with Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Michael Keaton, Brad Pitt, Will Smith and Adam Sandler (enotes.com).

Oompa Loompas



In the book the Oompa Loompas are a group of factory workers who explain the unexceptable behaviors of the naughty, disobedient children and clarify why they lost the contest and are kicked out of the factory. They relay the lessons to be learned from the situations in a cute and playful way by singing and performing. To adapt a movie and remove these characters would be to take away too much of what made this story so delightful. Both films kept these characters as they provided alot of insight and explanation as well as a another fun visual aspect. The original film tried to add some extra fantasy elements with the Oompa-Loompa songs. Unfortunately they clash with the book for two reasons: orange-skinned green-haired Munchkins look nothing like the tropical natives Wonka recruited, and the songs are original creations rather than the book’s verse. The 2005 adaptation shows the Oompa-Loompas as little clone pygmies and uses the song lyrics from the book (Oppapers.com). Reusing the lyrics originally created by Dahl is much funner than the goofy jingles in the 1970's version, however the 2005 version create their own tune for the lyrics. The first song being the charming Augustus Gloop song (exampled below) and then progressively get worse by the time we get to the heavy metal Mike Teavee song. I understand the relation to the obnoxious song to the obnoxious boy but I feel the song did not stay true to the lyrics or tone set by Dahl.

Oompa Loompa 1970's song
http://youtu.be/qw0zZttfUaw
Oompa Loompa 2005 song
http://youtu.be/cEVilNDXd0A?t=1m


Overall both movie adaptations have components that feel like the book we love. Both offer a variation in relating the story to us as an audience in a charming and visual way. The 1970's version full of color and quirkiness. The 2005 version the colors are more muted but the quirkiness is still there. Both stories emphasize what the different story tellers are trying to convey the most prominently. But both are fun, familiar, and lovable.



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  • Stuart, Mel. "Pure Imagination: The Making of Willy Wonka"