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Charlie And The Chocolate Factory 2005 movie from Roald Dahl’s novels have entertained and entranced children and their imaginations for years. Several successful films have been made based on his works, but the most recognisable Dahl adaptation has to be the 1971 film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, based on his 1964 novel, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.
The story of a poor boy who, with the help of winning a golden ticket into the world’s most wonderful and bizarre chocolate factory, has all of his dreams come true is a staple in moviedom. The 1971 film’s script was written by Dahl himself.
In 2005, director Tim Burton released his own take on the classic tale under the book’s title, keeping his story closer to the source material. Many of the changes the 2005 adaption made from the 1971 one were done to reflect Charlie And The Chocolate Factory novel. This version looks more into Wonka’s personal past and tackles the issues of his odd neuroses. The characters in the two movie adaptions, particularly the two central characters of Willy Wonka and Charlie, are very different.
But which is truer to the source? And which is better?
We’ll look at Charlie first. The Charlie in the Burton movie better captures the innocence and purity of the character Dahl originally wrote. The one in the 1971 movie still has that wide-eyed amazement the character should dream of, but he also appears as a whiny jerk at times. Remember when he tricked his entire family into thinking he’d won a Golden Ticket on his birthday? What’s more is that the actor’s lack of a singing voice almost sinks the iconic I’ve Got A Golden Ticket song. …Almost!
The other contest winners vary in terms of translation. Augustus Gloop is exactly the same in every version (not really much to alter there). Veruca Salt is always incessant and spoilt little brat, though in the Burton movie, she does it more with puppy-dog eyes and passive aggression than the constant whining she puts forth in the 1971 movie.
Violet Beauregard and Mike Teavee undergo more drastic changes in the remake. In 1971, Violet was a blabbermouth and Mike was into nothing but spaghetti Westerns; in 2005, Violet was a serial winner and Mike was into violent video games and mathematics. The updated versions of the kids was a really good idea, and it worked well with the change in times.
Mike’s character cause a strange problem, though: He looks too much like a normal child at times. Sure, he’s always frowning and destructive, and he still deserves his comeuppance at the end, but because he shows glimpses of real intelligence, he seems like he could be redeemable. Charlie is supposed to stand out by being the sole truly human one. The Burton movie almost loses it there.
Burton’s unique style also brings up some unique flaws in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory story. The constantly grim atmosphere and slanted architecture sweeps away the subtle creepiness of the tale, placing it instead right smack in the forefront. Part of the genius of Dahl’s work was that, while everything that was written felt whimsical and fantastic, actually thinking about what was happening to the kids and to the world at the whole during the search for the Golden Ticket was rather scary.
For children, it’s just a nice little fable; for grownups, it can be a bit haunting. This type of subtlety is more prevalent in the 1971 movie, where the horrors are underplayed by the happy-go-lucky tones of the Oompa-Loompa songs and the whole aloofness of Wonka himself, right up until the horrifying moment when the boat gets into the tunnel.
Which brings us at last to the two versions of Willy Wonka. The 1971 film had Gene Wilder, whose biggest role to this point had been in The Producers. Wilder’s Willy Wonka is sarcastic, strange and more of an adult than the Wonka in Dahl’s novel, who more or less comes across as an overgrown child. But Wilder makes one forget everything about the original character; he is charming and witty, and though he plays a more toned-down version, you never forget his presence. It’s a defining role for him.
It being a Tim Burton work, the Charlie And The Chocolate Factory 2005 film of course casts Johnny Depp as the chocolate maker. He plays it with more of a childlike aura, but in a Michael Jackson sort of way, with awkward social skills and a very quiet personality. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory film makes the tale more about Wonka’s quest toward accepting family than it is of Charlie’s rags to riches, and it just doesn’t work as good as the 1971 version.
Every time the story dips into flashbacks of Wonka’s childhood, the rest of the story has to grind to a halt to let Burton do his thing. And while Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka isn’t necessarily bad, after seeing what Wilder did in making the character iconic, it just can’t match.
So while the 2005 version’s plot might be truer to Charlie And The Chocolate Factory book, the 1971 version captures its spirit, which is far more important.
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