I’ve been on a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory kick lately. I reread the 1964 novel by Roald Dahl and watched not only the Tim Burton 2005 movie of the same name (starring Johnny Depp and Freddie Highmore), but also the 1971 classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder and directed by Mel Stuart. I’ve seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory twice recently. Slight spoilers ahead.
Charlie’s story is a Cinderella story—a good, but poor kid desperately wants to gain one of five golden tickets which allow the bearers to visit the world-famous chocolate factory of the reclusive Willy Wonka—the prince of the story. Charlie doesn’t stand much of a chance, since anyone in the world could find a ticket. But that’s what makes the book/movie such a delight.
Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka
Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka
Why the obsession? Fairy tales are the ultimate comfort food for me when life is tough and I feel overwhelmed by it. (Like when two computer viruses almost crashed my computer recently.) It’s great to know that good things can happen to nice people, especially when the news is full of stories of brutality and hate—proof that life is often anything but a fairy tale.
I’ve heard men quip that women are obsessed by chocolate. How interesting that this book was written by a man and both movies adapted from it were directed by men. Seeing all of that chocolate flash across the screen is fun, but dangerous. I usually need to have some chocolate on hand to satisfy the cravings inspired by the movie. (Same with the 2000 film Chocolat, based on the novel by Joanne Harris and directed by Lasse Hallström—a film that also starred Johnny Depp and also Juliette Binoche. I highly recommend the book and the movie. I might have to revisit both soon.)
While Dahl’s story, like others he’s written, has enough of an acerbic edge to delight twenty-first century children, Charlie’s family interactions, by contrast have a sweetness that I appreciate. But the best parts of the book and films are when the extremely bratty kids receive their just desserts at the factory. (Nanny McPhee, a 2005 film written by and starring Emma Thompson and directed by Kirk Jones, is another good film for that. It’s based on the Nurse Matilda stories by Christianna Brand.) Those moments are a catharsis for me.
Yeah, I know. A fairy-tale like story with a happy ending won’t solve all of the world’s ills. But it can make a bad day—or a bad week—a little sweeter. If only real life was just as sweet.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory photos from yamu.lk and fanpop.com. Book cover from Goodreads. Nanny McPhee poster from mposter.com.
Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp?
From a purely aesthetic point of view, I think I know most women’s answer!
Depp. But not because of aesthetics. The Gene Wilder one creeped me out to no end when I was a child.
It is a little creepy. 😀 For some reason, it didn’t bother me though. I was too busy looking at the candy.
Aesthetically, Johnny Depp, though he took the character to a different level. He seemed more lost child than Gene Wilder did. But Gene Wilder sang, so I’ll give him points for that.
I loved both Charlie and the Choc Factory and Chocolat. Roald Dahl has got to be one of the best child authors of all time. I didn’t enjoy Joanna Harris’s other books. The casting for the film was first rate, as were the locations used…
I still view chocolate eating as the ultimate comfort food.
I only read the one book by Harris, and I read it after seeing Chocolat. I agree that the casting was amazing. I must have seen that movie 10 or 15 times.
Now I want some chocolate.
Yes to this! Fairy tales are needed sometimes, just to lose yourself in something magical and something away from the world! 🙂
Yes. Fairy tales and romance novels, which are fairy tales of a different sort. 😀
I have to admit that I was annoyed by the newer Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Mostly because they seemed lazy on the Oompa Loompas and I could never understand what those high-pitched clones were singing.
Ha ha! That’s all due to Danny Elfman. 🙂 And the poor guy who had to play all of the Oompa Loompas! I hope he received extra pay.
I hope so too. Still, it took a lot of the magic out of it for me.
I loved the book and the Gene WIlder movie. And I even liked the Johnny Depp movie, although it’s definitely inferior.
Ever read the sequel, ‘Charlie and the Glass Elevator’?
Yes, some years ago. I’ve read most of Roald Dahl’s books. Oddly enough, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one I read as an adult, rather than as a child. I’m not sure why. One of my favorites is The BFG. Another is Matilda.
I think you’re rightly right! It’s great to have a place to escape too. Or to see a happy ending! This professor loves those types of stories.
Glad to know that. Do you have a favorite, Professor?
I’ve always loved Robin Hood, if that counts. But probably…Winning his Spurs. GA Henty has to count, right?
Of course he does! 😀
My favorite all-time movie is The Princess Bride. I can probably quote it by heart. I totally get the need to escape, and fairy tales are great ways to do it.
Love that one too. I was on a Princess Bride kick awhile back. I didn’t post about it, though I should have. I read the book ages ago and loved it!!!
I love fairy/folk tales. 🙂 Not Charlie and the Chocolate factory, but to each her own, right? Wonka is too creepy for me. Especially Gene Wilder’s Wonka *shudder* Even when I was a kid, he struck me as a literally-sugar-coated, sadistic murderer with a penchant for confectionery torture.
I guess I shouldn’t giggle at this: “he struck me as a literally-sugar-coated, sadistic murderer with a penchant for confectionery torture.” I know what you mean though, ReGi. 😀 But I love the fact that little Charlie and his family get to move to a chocolate factory. That was a dream of mine when I was a kid.
Oh, that part I like. I could so totally live in a (dairy-free) chocolate factory. My sister loved the movie and read the book and its sequel, which had to do with the Magic Elevator. I almost read that one because the elevator was so cool.
The elevator is cool, since it goes to so many places. I could use one of those right about now.
Sorry to hear things have been troublesome for you lately, Linda. Hope things work out better for you soon. You’ve certainly picked a good set of stories/films to pull you out of the doldrums of life! The Wilder version of Wonka is my fave.
Thanks, Phillip. Any sign of the baby? I’m guessing no, since you’re commenting. Looking forward to the arrival of little Angus.
Linda, check out my blog! You may have missed an update or two. 🙂
I did! I’ve been behind in my blog reading. Congratulations, Phillip! So glad to see little Angus!
I read Charlie as a child and loved it. I recently found a copy as an adult and found that Charlie was as sweet as ever but Wonka was a lot more harsh than I remembered. As an adult you pick up on so many different things.
I love Nanny McPhee. Have you seen the sequel, Nanny McPhee Returns? Normally I am disappointed in movie sequels, but I found the sequel was just as good if not better than the original.
I must confess, I’ve never seen the remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. For me, nothing could compare. Gene Wilder yes, Johnny Depp, no…I think of the “21 Jump Street” and “Edward Scissorhands.”
I thought of you this past weekend, Linda. I was watching a Hallmark move, “Looking for Mr. Right” and I knew you were probably watching it too. 🙂
I saw that one! 😀 I couldn’t help Googling to see if Hallmark takes scripts. An agent is needed. I might have to give more thought to a plot.
I’m missing a gene that almost everyone else seems to have, because I am not a fan of either film. I know I know, how can that be?
Will I get back into your good graces by professing my love for chocolate? I’ll shove an old lady out of the way for a piece (not really). I could eat one of those 1 pound Hershey bars in about 5 minutes, if I had to. Because you never know when a band of armed ruffians well force you to do exactly that.
I think I can beat that record. Perhaps I shouldn’t be quite so proud of my ability to scarf down a chocolate bar so quickly. 😀
I have to agree that a lovely payoff in the original Willy Wonka is the comeuppance of the brats. Floating amidst the bubble looked like a blast, too!
Now I want some chocolate! Oh who am I kidding. I always want chocolate. Thanks for stopping by, Shel!
I like both movies–but agree with Charles that the oompa loompas were much better in the first movie. I have a friend who has more than once had something bad happen after watching the original, so he refuses to watch it now. “No, no, bad things happen,” he says.
Oh my! How horrible to have such a cycle attached to a movie. I guess I can’t blame him for avoiding it.