Page to Screen: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Despite many considering Tim Burton's Chocolate Factory to be a reboot of the 1971 version starring Gene Wilder, they're both based on Roald Dahl's book. That being said, this review will specifically compare the original book and the 2005 cinematic adaptation.
Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Tim Burton's adaptation was released in 2005 and largely followed the novel's story only with greater emphasis on Willy Wonka's character, attempting to give him more odd mannerisms and a more fleshed out backstory to the eccentric chocolate factory owner. This was the second cinematic adaptation of Roald Dahl's story, following Mel Stuart's Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory in 1971. In fact, Dahl publicly shunned the film and promised that there would be no film rights to any more of his books following Charlie. Tim Burton himself also wasn't the first choice in directing this film, as many others came before in attempts to work out a deal with Dahl's family. Dahl's daughter, Lucy (Liccy), was a consultant for this film.
The film features a large number of big name actors, many who are Burton familiars including but not limited to Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Danny Elfman (as a composer and vocalist), Freddie Highmore, David Kelly, Noah Taylor, and so on.
British author Roald Dahl created Charlie and the Chocolate Factory back in 1964 as a child's novel. It follows a poor child, Charlie Bucket, of who lives in a shack with 6 other relatives, 4 of them bedridden elderly folk, who manages to secure a Golden Ticket to the world's most successful chocolate-making factory that has been shut to all outward eyes for a very long time. The book spawned a sequel (Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator) and Dahl planned a third, but never finished it before his death in 1990.
This book spawned two cinematic adaptations, one in 1971 and another in 2005. Roald Dahl's other works have been successfully adapted into other film adaptations such as Matilda and James and the Giant Peach. Dahl claimed that this story was inspired by rival chocolate factories that would frequently send in spies disguised as employees to steal production secrets.
Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Differences between Novel and Film
Easily the most recognizable different is within the main focus of the film. In the book and the 1971 film, Willy Wonka remains an interesting and enigmatic figure with very few details revealed about him until the very end (where he admits his age and plans for Charlie). However, in this film it goes to great lengths to discuss his past and relationship with candy and chocolate against his dentist father. This leads into Willy Wonka's 'spacing' whenever someone mentions the word 'parents' or he's directly interacting with a parent of one of the children. These sections are completely absent from the book or its sequel.
Within the book (and other cinematic adaptation), there is absolutely no issue with family units which doesn't contradict his mission to find someone young enough, a child, to take over his business, particularly when he has such issues with the children.
The Introduction to the Factory
There's actually no puppet or animatronic show. However, the inclusion of the puppet show is important in the film however as it changes Wonka's character from the book. In the book, Wonka is most excited to show off his work and inventions. However the opening demonstration speaks praise of Wonka, claiming him to be amazing and the best and whatnot. There's a small different but it can matter.
In the film, the Oompa Loompas are very straight forward and emotionless, merely existing to run the factory and produce songs. Yet, in the book, they appear far more as conniving little imps, always giggling mischievously when gesturing towards the children amongst themselves. The question of them being able to produce songs in sync about a child's fate mere moments after they've become victimized is never explained, although one may believe they were always aware of Wonka's plan to test the children. Both versions treat them a little bit like Greek Muses, semi-omniscient beings that narrate the story through song, but it's the way they're presented that's so drastically different.
There's also the case of physical presentation. While the book that is officially reprinted described the Oompa Loompas as having bright faces, it's a well-known fact that the original drafts had the Oompa Loompas greatly resembling enslaved pygmies from Africa. Considering Deep Roy (the actor for each of the Oompa-Loompas) is from Kenya and Burton's attempt to stay truer to the manuscripts Dahl originally wrote, this does make sense.
When the book was originally written, Mike Teavee, as his namesake suggests, was an addict to television and more so to violent shows featuring gangsters and cowboys. However, Burton decided to create a different addiction that speaks more to an audience of 2005 in the form of video games, although these still feature the more violent kinds. In my personal opinion, this was a terrific change, one that makes the film still marketable but true to the original intent behind Dahl's work. However, this character in the book was not shown to be intelligent enough to crack any codes or decipher how to get a Golden Ticket, although this barely merits a mention.
Deep Roy as the Oompa Loompas
- Deep Roy was the only actor to portray any of the Oompa Loompas, requiring him to do many different segments in order to film the musical segments of the film. Upon realizing this, Deep Roy's contract was changed and his paycheck was fixed to better represent the numerous parts he played.
- In 2007 Gene Wilder was quoted, "The thing that put me off ... I like Johnny Depp, I like him, as an actor I like him very much ... but when I saw little pieces in the promotion of what he was doing, I said I don't want to see the film, because I don't want to be disappointed in him." It seems he finally saw it in 2013, as Wilder called the film an "an insult" and continued to talk about Burton saying, "I don't care for that director. He's a talented man, but I don't care for him doing stuff like he did."
- While the Squirrel and Nut scene was largely computer generated, there was a team of squirrels trained for weeks on end for close ups that actually knocked on walnuts before breaking them open and dropping them onto a conveyor belt.
- Also, Johnny Depp was allergic to chocolate when he was a child.
Trailer for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Even with the detour of Willy Wonka's father and the extra focus on the chocolatier, this film is a bit more exact on being a cinematic adaptation, many times recycling specific lines such as those in the songs which Roald Dahl specifically wrote for the book. Aside from there only being one adult per person, characters followed the fates of their literary counterparts (aside from Augustus Gloop who was not thinned out and was simply beaming as he left the factory).
In my own personal opinion, I feel Roald Dahl would have disapproved of this film even more so than the 1971 version. Dahl was said to have disliked the first film due to the extra emphasis given to Willy Wonka's character over Charlie. Given the fact that this film attempts to give Willy Wonka a backstory that's not in line with his book, I cannot imagine that the author would be any more pleased than he was before.
I continue to have issues with Johnny Depp's portrayal of Willy Wonka and the logical inconsistencies. He decides to look for a young heir but cannot stand children, which creates a large large disconnect with his plot. While Gene Wilder's performance was occasionally off the mark compared to the book, it was incredibly charismatic and was capable of pulling off mounds of meaning while simply giving off his crazed look while not speaking. Depp's performance was quirky and weird but lacked the attraction, coming off as strange. While I personally resent the comment, many compared Depp's performance as mirroring the late Michael Jackson and his controversy with children.
I've said it before, Tim Burton is a brilliant mind when it comes to creating original work and has a very particular flair in his cinematic work. However, when it comes to recreating a work such as Alice's Adventure in Wonderland (2010), the final product reeks of his style to the point of diminishing the source material. This is probably attributed to his 'posse' that follows him into most of his film work (staples such as Johnny Depp, his domestic partner Helena Bonham Carter, and the musical score created by Danny Elfman, and more), but it's difficult not to notice the slightly creepy, if but artistic, themes he inserts in his work.
This is all not to say that this film is bad or lacking in any way. I find the film to be quite enjoyable and entertaining, but it is undeniably compared to the 1971 version of the book. To be honest, that version remains to be one of my favorite movies of my childhood and it's difficult to compete against it, so take what I say with a grain of salt.