Roald Dahl Movies on DVD & Blu-ray
Films from the Great British Storyteller
Although he passed away in 1990, Roald Dahl has proved an enduringly popular author, inspiring a succession of box office successes. His books, with their cautionary tales of misbehaving children, meddlesome grown-ups, gruesome brutes and unlikely heroes, continue to entertain millions of readers worldwide, young and old alike. Read on for a run-down of the best Roald Dahl movies available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Buy Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) on DVD & Blu-ray
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
In this 1971 adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Gene Wilder plays an extraordinary candy-maker who opens his factory to the lucky recipients of five golden tickets. Among the freakish winners are spoiled brat Veruca Salt, gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde, TV addict Mike Teevee and greedy guzzler Augustus Gloop. The foursome come to ignoble ends, leaving only the virtuous Charlie to receive the true prize. Wilder is gloriously eccentric in the title role of this colourful, ever-so-slightly surreal family musical.
Buy Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (2005) on DVD & Blu-ray
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
As confectionery giant Willy Wonka, Johnny Depp is miles apart from Gene Wilder, portraying the candy man as an androgynous, childlike eccentric. Tim Burton directed this 2005 remake, bringing his usual surreal, fantastic style to the material. He excels particularly in the pre-factory scenes, which uses ideas from Dahl's original book that were missing from the 1971 film. African-American Geoffrey Holder, whose previous films include Doctor Dolittle (1967) and Annie (1982), was a perfectly delightful choice for the narrator.
Buy Fantastic Mr Fox (2009) on DVD & Blu-ray
Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)
It took almost 40 years for Roald Dahl's 1970 book to make it to the screen, but it was worth the wait. Director Wes Anderson, previously known for quirky live features such as Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, turned his hand to animation for the first time. George Clooney provided the voice for the title character, with an impressive cast of comedy and acting talent in support, including Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzmann, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson. Dahl's story of a fox's ingenious plan to outwit three evil farmers and protect his family was written with very young readers in mind, but Anderson has turned the tale into a witty adventure tale that will entertain audiences of all ages.
Buy Matilda (1996) on DVD
In Roald Dahl's 1988 book, a gifted young girl discovers she has magical powers that enable her to get back at her spiteful parents and her tyrannical school principal, Miss Trunchbull. The story is transported to America and given a few changes for this 1996 movie version, but it's still a lot of fun. Danny DeVito and real-life wife Rhea Pearlman are suitably obnoxious as the parents -- the archetypal horrible grown-ups in Dahl's world -- and British actor Pam Ferris is memorably bullish as the principal. Mara Wilson of Mrs Doubtfire and Miracle on 34th Street stars as Matilda.
Buy James & the Giant Peach (1996) on DVD & Blu-ray
James and the Giant Peach (1996)
A vulnerable boy, mistreated by his two nasty aunts, discovers a giant peach growing in his garden, and befriends the insects he finds inside. With their help, and some assistance from a flock of seagulls, he escapes his abusive guardians and sets off on a wild adventure. Tim Burton produced this part-live action, part stop-motion animated version of Dahl's 1961 book. The design is elegant, the sense of adventure thrilling, and the all-star cast, including Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon, Joanna Lumley and Pete Postlethwaite, is sterling.
More Roald Dahl Movies on DVD & Blu-ray
The Witches (1990) stars Anjelica Huston, Rowan Atkinson and a cast of puppets created by Jim Henson (The Muppets).
In The BFG (1989), a "Big Friendly Giant" befriends a young girl. British comedy actor David Jason (Only Fools and Horses, A Touch of Frost) provides the giant's voice in this made-for-TV cartoon film.
Roald Dahl provided the screenplay for the classic MGM family musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), starring Dick Van Dyke. It was based on a children's story by Ian Fleming, and Dahl was again to turn his hand to adapting Fleming, with the script for the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice. Sean Connery stars as 007.
Roald Dahl: Tales of the Unexpected
Dahl will always be remembered best for his children's books, but he was also a prolific writer of adult fiction. In 1979, he published the anthology Tales of the Unexpected, a suspenseful collection of 16 short stories. ITV made the stories into a series of the same name, airing between 1979 and 1988 and featuring an array of guest stars, from John Mills and Janet Leigh to Joseph Cotten, Joan Collins and John Gielgud.
The entire series is available on DVD in four sets. Each set contains approximately 25 episodes, spread out across four discs.