Charlie and Willy

A quick apology for the lack of an article on Monday. I woke with a migraine, took my med and some painkillers before retreating to bed where I stayed until it was far too late to write.

This is going to be one of those long and involved posts, I hope you can bear with me. During the drive up to Sydney for Nullus Anxietas V Deb and I were discussing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (this was apropos of the book I’d left in Melbourne to finish reading on my return). Deb’s personal opinion was that Johnny Depp’s performance in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was far closer to her image of Willy Wonka from the book than Gene Wilder in the much earlier movie of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. She’s very irritating like that, says something and all of a sudden I feel a peculiarness that I must follow through and watch/read everything we’ve talked about…I blame Deb for the rest of this article.

So I finished my book called Pure Imagination about the making of the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. A totally fascinating look at how one goes about making a movie of this kind. My only complaint is the length, it wasn’t long enough and didn’t go into enough detail for me.

Pure Imagination by Mel Stuart with Josh Young
Pure Imagination by Mel Stuart with Josh Young

Having finished this book I then moved to the beginning of the chain and read the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was paying attention to Deb’s claims about Johnny Depp and Willy Wonka so I picked out a few bits and pieces. There’s one speech very early on Wonka which made me prick up my ears. It seems Wonka was a really nasty man, he exploited his workers, only paying them in cacao beans, he was derogatory about their native food, was the instigator in people smuggling, slavery and massaged the truth, I’d almost go so far as to say he could be a politician but I won’t.

There’s a lot of word play in the book. Apparently whipped cream is not whipped cream unless it’s been whipped with whips. This makes me think entirely of BDSM but I think Dahl was just playing with words, or rather, I hope he was just playing with words.

But there are some good parts to Wonka. In the boat he gives both Charlie and Grandpa Joe some molten chocolate from the river as they look starved to death and he makes Everlasting Gobstoppers for children who don’t get a lot of allowance, also the Chewing Gum is supposed to stop hunger as each piece is a whole meal in one go. What the Chewing Gum would do for the food industry is not mentioned but I suspect it would totally destroy it and make Wonka the richest man in the world.

 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Finally, in the end Wonka realises Charlie is the only child left and we find out he specifically wants a child to indoctrinate him into the chocolate factory and teach him how everything works. Basically, he wants someone he can brainwash, children are so much easier to brainwash than adults.

After that I watched the first movie paying attention to things mentioned in Pure Imagination. Apparently the Oompa Loompas were given orange skin and green hair in order to fend off possible complaints of racism. In the remake all the Oompa Loompas were played by Deep Roy, his pay was increased as he played 1,000 people! But he wasn’t given the same colouring as in the original movie.

The first movie was great, I really enjoyed the songs and the sets, they went to a lot of trouble with them. I loved the way Gene Wilder first walked on as Willy Wonka and if you’ve seen the movie you’ll remember how he totters on with his cane, which then becomes stuck and he starts falling only to roll and jump up; I do like this. But looking at Wilder and his portrayal of Wonka I thought was not quite like the book, he wasn’t quite nasty and self-serving enough. Depp, on the other hand, I felt was much closer to Wonka from the book. I can’t quite quantify it but I do feel he did a better job.

Apparently after getting the part Depp actually sat down and read the book. He then kept insisting on adding bits and pieces from the book. It has more dialogue from the book than the original movie. I don’t think the remake would have been so popular in the 1970s, it was a product of its time.

Having said all of that I do love the original movie. It is from my childhood, it brought justice to some dreadful children and colour and light into my life.

A couple of links for those people who don’t have the book in their houses. It’s currently on the Premier’s Reading Challenge so I couldn’t find it in any library as every other child has it out on loan already! Here’s the cheapest copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl and not the one with the controversial cover. Here’s the DVD of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder. And the DVD of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp. They are all good enough to read/watch many times so worth buying for the household.