Roald Dahl 90th Birthday

by Roald Dahl

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Roald Dahl 90th Birthday

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Thu Sep 14, 2006 3:06 am

I forgot about this yesterday even though my son reminded me about it on Tuesday as they did something about it at school. There was also a report on the local news here about what is below, the train , children having a tour around the town and the museum etc.


Fans gather for Dahl celebration

Roald Dahl is credited with reviving the art of children's books
Fans of all ages are staging parties to celebrate what would have been the 90th birthday of writer Roald Dahl.
Exhibitions and children's reading campaigns are being held to commemorate the life of Dahl, who died in 1990 and has sold more than 100 million books.

A special train will take visitors from London to Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire where Dahl wrote in a hut at the bottom of the garden.

His daughter Lucy said: "He understood children and identified with them."

She added that he would have been "over the moon" about the day of celebrations in his honour.

"He never really celebrated himself in any huge way but he was always thrilled when people would celebrate him," said Ms Dahl.

'Children's choice'

Children's writer Anthony Horovitz said the recent renaissance in children's literature had begun with Dahl rather than JK Rowling, author of the phenomenally successful Harry Potter wizard sagas.

"Dahl was perhaps the first author to take the children's side and collude against the smelly, ugly, stupid creatures that inhabit the adult world," he said.

He challenged the idea of children's literature with darkly comic classics including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Witches.

Amanda Conquy, director of the Dahl literary estate, hailed Dahl as the first children's writer to achieve "pop star" status.

"He was very much the children's choice against their parents," she said.

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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Thu Sep 14, 2006 3:07 am

Roald Dahl hailed with birthday celebrations Wednesday September 13, 07:12 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - Children, parents, teachers and adult fans are throwing parties on Wednesday to celebrate what would have been the 90th birthday party of the darkly comic writer Roald Dahl.

"He understood children and identified with them. This is like a great big happy birthday party to acknowledge him," said his daughter Lucy, launching what she and others hope will be a day of improvised

"Revolting Rhymes" and "Oompa Loompa" dances.
Exhibitions and children's reading campaigns are also being staged to commemorate Dahl, who died in 1990 and has now sold more than 100 million books in 40 languages.

Dahl initially made his name as a writer of adult fiction, but cult children's classics such as "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "The Witches" have more recently overshadowed his chilling adult work.

Children's writer Anthony Horovitz said the recent renaissance in children's literature had begun with Dahl, rather than J K Rowling, author of the phenomenally successful Harry Potter wizard sagas.

"Dahl was perhaps the first author to take the children's side and collude against the smelly, ugly, stupid creatures that inhabit the adult world," he said.

In an echo of Potter's Hogwarts Express, a special train will take visitors from London to Great Missenden, the rural retreat in southern England where Dahl wrote in a hut at the bottom of the garden.

The Dahl Museum, which attracted 70,000 visitors in its first year, is staging walking tours around the village to locations used in his books.

Amanda Conquy, director of the Dahl literary estate, hailed Dahl as the first of children's writers to achieve 'pop star' status. "He was very much the children's choice against their parents," she said.

Some critics have attacked his books as brutish, scary and scatological, but in an interview 20 years ago with Reuters the author supplied his own fitting epitaph:

"I never get any protests from children. All you get are giggles of mirth and squirms of delight. I know what children like."

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Sep 14, 2006 8:35 am

GG, thanks for the reminder, it sounds like the celbrated his day in style! When we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the museum was about to open. Has anyone been able to visit?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Liz » Thu Sep 14, 2006 9:43 am

:birthdayballoon: Happy Belated Birthday, Raold! :birthdayballoon:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby Theresa » Thu Sep 14, 2006 2:05 pm

I saw this lovely article on Dahl online in the Telegraph.co.uk

The fantastically adaptable Mr Dahl
September 8, 2006


Filmmakers are still queuing up to adapt Roald Dahl's stories – but first they have to talk to his widow, Felicity. David Gritten meets her

It's a delicious irony that for almost 50 years Hollywood beat a path to Roald Dahl's door – and even now, almost 16 years after the master storyteller's death, filmmakers are still clamouring to turn his words into movies.

Roald Dahl 'liked films to be faithful to his books'
Hollywood loves him with a passion, but in his lifetime it was unrequited: Dahl regarded film adaptations of his work with a suspicion that sometimes spilled over into hostility.

But still they come, eager to capture on film the essence of this remarkable children's writer. It's not disrespectful to Dahl's memory to observe that directors, producers and other would-be adaptors now have an easier ride while pressing their claims than they did when he was alive.

Typically they arrive at Gipsy House, the Dahl family home in Great Missenden, a bucolic Buckinghamshire village. They are greeted by his widow Felicity, universally known as Liccy. Often they stay in one of the guest houses adjoining the property. Inevitably they view the hut in the garden where Dahl wrote. Sometimes a film deal is struck, but usually not.

The list of those who have partaken of Gipsy House's charms reads like a random dip into Halliwell's Who's Who in the Movies. Johnny Depp and Tim Burton spent time there during preparations for last year's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Danny deVito was a regular a decade ago, when he was directing Matilda; director Wes Anderson, who wants to adapt Fantastic Mr Fox in stop-frame animation, was given house room; John Cleese, who has written a script of Dahl's The Twits, drops by.

For some, visiting Gipsy House is like a pilgrimage. Burton, who devoured Dahl's books as an unhappy child, reportedly burst into tears on the lawn. Guillermo del Toro, the Mexican director who is set to re-make the film of Dahl's The Witches, exclaimed: "For me, that's like going to Mecca and meeting Mohammed."

Gipsy House feels faintly enchanted; wine flows freely, and its kitchen has a resident chef. Elegant, astute, with a dry wit, Liccy Dahl is a terrific hostess. But she also chairs Dahl & Dahl, the company that manages Roald's literary estate; no one adapts his work to film without her say-so.

There's no question that the estate needs a gatekeeper. Without the quality control Dahl and her colleague Amanda Conquy impose, there would be an awful lot of Dahl films on the market. Tellingly, the National Film Theatre is currently presenting a three-week season of Dahl's work as presented on film and TV.

Yet Liccy Dahl is more pragmatic than her late husband. Over lunch at Gipsy House, she explains: "Roald liked films to be faithful to his books. His favourite of all the films was Danny the Champion of the World, probably because it was the most faithful. But I don't think you can be faithful to the book. The problem they have is a confusion between author, screenwriter and director. You have to change [things] for a film."

With this in mind, she looks for adaptors whose films will at least stay true to Dahl's mischievous spirit. "Danny deVito understood Dahl," she says firmly. "His Matilda got him." She feels Roald would have liked Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with Depp as Willy Wonka. "But he disliked Gene Wilder as Wonka [in the 1971 film]. When they were casting, Roald suggested Spike Milligan. He said only Spike would do. Spike arrived at the audition in a beard and was told to go home and shave it off. He did, but didn't get the role anyway."

The worst film experience for Roald Dahl came with Nicolas Roeg's adaptation of The Witches (1990). He persuaded Roeg to cut an opening scene of a funeral, with a coffin being lowered into the ground. "Roald was horrified," Liccy recalls. "He liked death in his books to be short, quick and humorous – not something to be lingered over."

But Roeg shot two endings, one faithful to Dahl's book, the other stripped of the darker elements that made the book so effective. "Nic Roeg showed us the first ending, and Roald had tears running down his cheeks, he was so pleased," says Liccy. "But then he showed us the other one, and Roald said: 'Take my name off this thing. You've missed the whole point of the book.' I'd never seen him so upset."

Dahl went public with his grievances against The Witches. I recall discussing them at the time with the film's producer, Allan Scott, who ventured the opinion that if writers received payments for their books to be adapted, they shouldn't grumble. "I rather agree," Liccy Dahl sighs.

Still, more Dahl films seem likely: apart from Anderson and Cleese, Robert Altman (an old friend for whom Dahl wrote an unproduced script in the 1960s, Oh Death Where Is Thy Sting-A-Ling-A-Ling?) is interested in updating his TV series Tales of the Unexpected. Meanwhile, Paramount has long held the rights to Dahl's The BFG. "But we're still stuck on a script, and a star," Liccy says. "We feel it needs an English screenwriter."

In Great Missenden's high street, the welcoming Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre boasts an intriguing archive, some files of which relate to Dahl's long, often tetchy relationship with the movie world.

They go back to 1941-42, when Walt Disney courted Dahl (whom he nicknamed Stalky, maybe because of his tall, lanky frame) about filming his book The Gremlins, which dealt with the hazards of being an RAF pilot. (Intriguingly, Dahl was then an assistant air attaché at the British Embassy in Washington, working with BSC, a secret propaganda unit bent on persuading America to join Britain in the war against Nazi Germany.) The studio published a cartoon book of The Gremlins, but Walt Disney told Dahl it would never be filmed: "…the public has become tired of so many war films."

These files are full of fascinating items: objections by America's NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) to the Oompa Loompas in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory because they resembled black slaves. There's a reference to Peter Sellers asking Dahl if he could play Wonka; and a Dahl letter with the words "I cannot say I am mad about Gene Wilder's performance."

And there is his original script for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, written in pencil on lined yellow paper. One version bears the words "first draft", and another "very first draft". Very Dahl. Yet there is still some dispute about the degree of his contribution to the finished film, and to the Bond film You Only Live Twice.

It may be that Roald Dahl was not cut out for a career in films. He was an uneasy collaborator with other writers (though he enjoyed a long, fruitful partnership with Quentin Blake, who illustrated his children's books). And he seemed to regard changes to his work as an affront. Yet to dozens of filmmakers enthralled by his storytelling powers, what a long shadow he cast.

The Daily Telegraph is media partner for Roald Dahl Day on Sept 13. Look out for our exclusive Roald Dahl puzzle in tomorrow's Weekend section and other features, events and exclusive promotions in the coming weeks. For further details, see www.roalddahlday.info. The Roald Dahl season at the National Film Theatre, London SE1 (020 7928 3232) continues until Sept 23. Tomorrow at 3pm, Felicity Dahl will introduce 'James and the Giant Peach'.


The best of Dahl on film

Matilda (1996)

Dahl fanatic Danny deVito captures the author's spirit perfectly in this wickedly funny, macabre children's story.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Tim Burton's extravagant rendering of the story is as bold as Johnny Depp's Michael Jackson-inflected take on the Willy Wonka, but it all works. Dahl was unimpressed with Gene Wilder in the 1971 version.

James and the Giant Peach (1996)

Dahl reportedly resisted attempts to adapt this story, but its lovely animation compensates for the few liberties taken with the book.

Danny the Champion of the World (1989)

Dahl's personal favourite film, a quieter story than most, but moving in its modest way. Starred Jeremy Irons.

The Witches (1990)

Dahl himself hated Nicolas Roeg's film, which starred Anjelica Huston as the Grand High Witch, but critics and audiences disagreed.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2006/09/08//bfdahl08.xml&page=1

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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Thu Sep 14, 2006 3:58 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:GG, thanks for the reminder, it sounds like the celbrated his day in style! When we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the museum was about to open. Has anyone been able to visit?


I haven't yet, should do really its not that far away from me.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Sep 14, 2006 7:14 pm

Be sure and let us know if you go, I would love to hear about it and see some pics as well! :cool:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!


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