Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Dir: Tim Burton
Release: Wide theatrical release July 2005
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory brings together one of my favorite filmmaking teams (Burton / Elfman / Depp) in away that only the three of them could manage. The film is a totally different adaptation of the Roald Dahl story from the 1971 version. With the only real similarities lying in the spine of the story, and even that deviates somewhat. I read the story again right before seeing this film and aside from the end, some of the back-story, and the end Burton’s vision holds close to the original text.
Eccentric chocolate maker Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) decides to invite five lucky children to his chocolate factory for a personalized tour and a special prize for one of the five children. Charlie (Freddie Highmore), is one of the lucky children who gets to come to the factory. Charlie is quite poor and shares a small one room home with his parents (Helena Bohnam Carter, Noah Taylor) and his four grandparents who share one bed (David Kelly, Liz Smith, Eileen Essell, David Morris).
Along the tour, the four other children break various rules and are punished in ways that only could happen in Wonka’s strange world. As each child exits the story, the Oompa Loompas (all played by Deep Roy) sing a wonderful song that talks about how horrible each child is and the lesson learned from each of their demises.
At the end, Charlie is the only boy left who gets the extra special prize, the opportunity to run Wonka’s chocolate factory.
This film is pure Burton through and through. From the very first sequence I was reminded why I fell in love with Burton’s films. His vision of the chocolate factory was as magical as it was frightening something I believe Dahl intended in his original story. Burton is very aware of how to use color, shape and texture and how these elements work together to form a visual rhythm that his fans adore.
Depp’s interpretation of Willy Wonka could not be further from Gene Wilder’s in the 1971 version of the story. Depp plays the character as a truly eccentric Wonka who has lost all touch with the real world and has enveloped himself in the fantasy of his own factory. Depp’s performance is filled with a lot more humor than I remember Wilder’s and though Depp is a little more bitter, he seems softer than Wilder’s Wonka.
Any fan of Burton’s will probably go back to the theatre to see this film more than once (as I plan to do) just to get a chance to spend two more hours in his universe, something we haven’t really been able to do since, Batman (1989).
Oh, anyone up for opening night of Corpse Bride?