Is CATCF better than Willy Wonka?

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Is CATCF better than Willy Wonka?

Unread postby FANtasticJD » Sat Jan 27, 2018 3:02 pm

It was nice to see a positive article about Charlie!

Is it just me, or is Charlie And The Chocolate Factory better than Willy Wonka?
By Paul Bradshaw August 04, 2013News

In our regular polarising-opinion series, Total Film contributor Paul Bradshaw asks, ‘Is it just me? … or is Charlie And The Chocolate Factory better than Willy Wonka ?’

Roald Dahl hated Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory , but for some reason everyone else loved it. A teatime favourite in living rooms countrywide, Mel Stuart’s 1971 fantasy is regarded as an untouchable classic.

So when Tim Burton announced that he was going to make Charlie And The Chocolate Factory in 2005, retaining the original title of Dahl’s book and attempting a more faithful adaptation, a generation rolled their eyes, turned their backs and sharpened their pencils.

It was the ’70s vs the ’00s. Wholesome nostalgia vs artificial colouring. Spangles and Black Jacks vs Haribo and Jelly Bellys. The Charlie defenders were too young and hopped-up on e-numbers to fight back, and the Wonka lovers quickly consigned Burton’s film to the same dustbin that held his “reimagining” of Planet Of The Apes . But that’s not fair. It’s not even right.

Try watching Charlie again through the eyes of a child and you might fall in love with the book again. Do the same with Willy and you won’t sleep for a week. Burton’s version might be brash, but Stuart’s is cheap, corny and downright frightening.

Let’s start with Wonka himself. Johnny Depp channelled Michael Jackson into a mix of camp and creepy for his take on Dahl’s eccentric chocolatier. His constant giggling might have grated, but his boyish bravado isn’t far from the Wonka in the book.

But if Depp unnerved, then Gene Wilder terrified as a Worzel Gummidge/Barbra Streisand hybrid. With the face of a sick baby and the eyes of a serial killer, Wilder doesn’t look like someone you’d leave alone with your kids.

Which brings us to Charlie. Little Peter Ostrum (an actor you can now find handing out ‘golden’ subway tickets in a Dunkin’ Donuts infomercial) brought Charlie to life in 1971 but the posh cherub didn’t look like he needed a trip to a chocolate factory. Fast-forward to 2005, and Freddie Highmore’s malnourished urchin really looked like he’d never had his pocket full of sweets.

But it’s when the famous doors swing open that the differences really count. Burton’s wonderland is endlessly imaginative, even on repeat viewings. Stuart’s washed-out factory floor is just a few fake rocks and a bit of astroturf – and his chocolate river looks like s**t. Literally.

Burton’s tribe of Oompa-Loompas are just as Dahl described them; but Stuart gives us a nightmarish gang of green-haired, orange-faced clowns. Sure, the original had a few classic songs – but the Loompa’s are the only ones that should be singing them.

Charlie ’s highlight is a pack of (real) trained squirrels who check for bad nuts – Willy ’s most memorable scene is an acid soaked boat ride that floods the screen with Jodorowskian images of leering eyeballs, beheaded chickens and Wilder screaming like a banshee.

Whichever way you slice it, Stuart’s Willy Wonka just hasn’t aged well – but Burton’s Charlie And The Chocolate Factory is still as fresh, original and provocative as Dahl’s book. Or is it just me?
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Is CATCF better than Willy Wonka?

Unread postby justintime » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:17 pm

Ha! Soooo good to read something filled with appreciation for Johnny’s (and Tim’s) choices. Thanks for posting, FANtasticJD.

In all honesty, I unreservedly agree with Mr. Bradshaw. My only disappointment is realizing it is not a current piece. I have to brace myself when I think of Johnny’s upcoming work being subject to the critics’ knife. . .
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Is CATCF better than Willy Wonka?

Unread postby jruoss » Sat Jan 27, 2018 6:13 pm

Wish I could comment on the comparison, but somehow I've made it through life without ever having seen Willy Wonka! I've been curious about it, seen a good spoof of it on Futurama, but that's about it. It sounds like Dahl would have liked Burton's version much better, at least according to Mrs. Dahl. Much truer to the book apparently.
My biggest problem with Charlie, and I'm not sure what the solution would have been, is a kind of predictability as each child commits their own particular transgression and then has their own particular song and "music video" to go with it. It gets a little paint by numbers I think, and maybe a bit too much like a musical for my taste. That, and of the songs themselves, I like Veruca's, and maybe one other one in there, but the rest I find somewhat annoying. Besides that though, the inside of the factory is amazing, and Johnny's Wonka is a true weirdo, though not Michael Jackson inspired as many seem to think. Johnny had mentioned the children's show host influence on his character, but had waited a few years to mention the "really really stoned" George W. Bush aspect. I find it pretty hilarious to go back and watch the movie with the George W. thing in mind...
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Is CATCF better than Willy Wonka?

Unread postby Texas Gal » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:02 pm

I absolutely agree with the author as well. Now I didn't grow up watching Willie Wonka - that was in my years of high school and college and it wasn't really relevant. But I did see it as an adult and didn't care for it at all, though I admit I saw it after watching Charlie so I could compare. Both of those things may have influenced my take on it. But the article is spot on as far as the eye appeal, the difference in the attitudes of the characters, etc. I also found the original Willie Wonka to be bland and also a bit creepy - and not nearly as imaginative as Johnny and Tim's take on it. :wonka:
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