It is currently Thu Jul 24, 2014 6:59 pm

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Please click here to view the forum rules



 Page 1 of 2 [ 18 posts ]  Go to page
1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: CATCF Question #14--Major Change--Empowering Charlie
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 12:30 pm 
JDZ Webmaster
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 5:47 pm
Posts: 9883
Image


CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY Question #14—Tim’s Major Change—Empowering Charlie Bucket


Although much attention was drawn to the inclusion of a backstory for Willy Wonka (adding Dr. Wilbur Wonka and Willy’s childhood of chocolate deprivation), Tim Burton and screenwriter John August made far more substantial changes to the Roald Dahl novel when dealing with the character of Charlie Bucket. Yet these changes have gone almost unnoticed by critics. I’d like to know what the Zone thinks about them.


When CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY first appeared in print, some criticism was directed at the Charlie Bucket character because readers felt he was “too passive,” and that rather than exhibit any actively good qualities, Charlie was presented as a role model for essentially doing nothing assertive, keeping his mouth shut, and being deferential to adults. When I read this criticism (as an adult) I had recently seen the film several times, but hadn’t read the book in many years . . . and I was very perplexed, because Charlie is quite an independent young man in the Burton film, especially in the final section when Wonka offers him the factory and he refuses to accept it because he won’t leave his family behind. Then I went back and read the book again and saw how much the movie strengthens Charlie’s character.

In Dahl’s novel, Charlie never refuses Willy Wonka’s offer. In fact, Charlie makes no decision whatsoever! Wonka just announces that he’s giving the factory to Charlie, and that’s that. Nor does Wonka insist that Charlie leave his family to come live in the factory. On the contrary, Wonka just scoops up the whole family—including the bedridden grandparents, who are shouting that they don’t want to go—into the glass elevator and whisks them away to the factory.

In Burton’s film, the events are very different. Charlie is offered the Wonka factory . . . but only on the condition that he never see his family again. (“Consider that a bonus,” Wonka says.) Charlie refuses, because his family is the most important thing in the world to him, and Wonka—startled and at a loss—can only say how “unexpected” Charlie’s rejection is.

Here are a few questions to ponder:


**In your opinion, does re-framing the story to let Charlie decide whether to accept or reject the factory enrich the tale or weaken it?


**Did the revision make sense in the overall context of the film? Were Charlie’s reasons credible?



**Charlie’s rejection of Wonka’s offer unleashes a period of intense self-examination for Wonka that ultimately leads to growth in his character—which would not have happened had Charlie just said “Yes.” Of course the movie’s scene where Wonka returns to ask Charlie’s advice (and Charlie tells him to go see his father) does not exist in the book either, but it paves the way for Wonka changing the terms of his offer to Charlie, so they can run the factory together. Do you approve of this route to the happy ending? Why or why not?


**In Dahl’s novel, the reason Willy Wonka wants to leave his factory to a child is—well, that unlike an adult who might disagree with Wonka’s ideas, a child will be tractable and do exactly what Wonka teaches him. (Not a very realistic view of children, is it? :biglaugh:) Here are Wonka’s exact words (and he’s talking to Grandpa Joe, not Charlie himself): “Mind you, there are thousands of clever men who would give anything for the chance to come in and take over from me, but I don’t want that sort of person. I don’t want a grown-up person at all. A grownup won’t listen to me; he won’t learn. He will try to do things his own way and not mine. So I have to have a child. I want a good sensible loving child.” However, when Wonka and Charlie are discussing candymaking in the last scene of Burton’s film, they are exchanging creative ideas about candy kites on what seems like an equal basis: they seem much more like true partners and kindred spirits than a master and his dutiful apprentice.

In your opinion, which version of Charlie Bucket is the better role model for today’s children—the perfect student or the equal partner?


As always, you can respond to any or all of the questions, and thanks for sharing your ideas!

:wonka: :heart2:

Part-Time Poet



_________________________________________________________
Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
-- J. M. Barrie
Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 5:17 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jul 15, 2006 9:28 pm
Posts: 3907
Location: Florida
This is very interesting because I am one of those who never read the book and was not aware of the differences in Charlie. I must add, just because it was my first thought when reading this, that Dahl's Willy in his way of dealing with Charlie seems more like the tyrannical factory overseer who wanted Oompa Loompas for cheap labor. He does not want Charlie for himself but too perpetuate the factory exactly as Willy has it now.
So I guess my preference would be the modern Charlie with a mind of his own and he and Willy more on an equal status.



_________________________________________________________
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.
Offline
 Profile WWW  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 6:19 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Oct 29, 2006 7:02 pm
Posts: 2464
Location: Aboard the Black Pearl
I have never read the book either and after reading this summation, I agree with gemini about Dahl's Willy.
gemini wrote:
Quote:
I must add, just because it was my first thought when reading this, that Dahl's Willy in his way of dealing with Charlie seems more like the tyrannical factory overseer who wanted Oompa Loompas for cheap labor.


**In your opinion, does re-framing the story to let Charlie decide whether to accept or reject the factory enrich the tale or weaken it?
I think it enriches the story, it's better to have a character who can decide for himself rather than one who just goes along passively.

**Did the revision make sense in the overall context of the film? Were Charlie’s reasons credible?
Yes, it did make sense and gave an added dimension to the story. I believe he had the best of reasons, it's hard to picture a child of his age happily leaving a family that he loves especially knowing that he would never see them again.

In your opinion, which version of Charlie Bucket is the better role model for today’s children—the perfect student or the equal partner?
I like Burton's Charlie, although I would consider him both a student and a partner.



_________________________________________________________
Serenity is not freedom from the storm but peace within the storm. ~ Unknown
Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 9:00 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:41 pm
Posts: 1042
Location: New Orleans
I'm always the odd man out, so here goes.

I love the Dahl book, and I prefer his ending. I don't think that Charlie is being particularly rewarded in the book -- Willy is not a nice man, and working with him is not going to be much fun. Dahl's dark vision is somehow seductive though.

The ending in Wilder's Willy Wonka was beyond dreadful, and way too preachy and contrived.

Altogether, in the total context of the way Burton structured the film, his ending works well. It gives us a happy ending, with everybody satisfied, and delivers a moral relevant to today's children.



_________________________________________________________
I'll buy you the hat....a really big one.
St. Roch -- patron saint of pilgrims
Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 9:28 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:30 am
Posts: 2503
Location: Colorado
For me, it's kind of a toss up, as I thought Wonka was manipulating the whole thing (Charlie winning the factory) from the get-go. But once Tim inserted the backstory for Willy it had to be resolved somehow; it couldn't just hang there. Either Willy or his father needed to have a reason to reconcile. Charlie's counsel at the shoe shine stand provided the motivation for Willy to take that necessary step. To me, that seemed like the turning point in the relationship between Willy and Charlie, more than Charlie's refusal to go to the factory without his family. In any case, Tim had an agenda he was after with the movie - proving the strength and inherent goodness of the family bond - so on that score, he succeeded. I found it a little saccarine though. I guess I prefer to view Wonka in a more mythical way - iconographically unrepentent and everlastingly unsavory! Kind of like a pirate! :lol:



_________________________________________________________
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa
savvy avi by mamabear
Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 5:12 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2005 9:46 am
Posts: 12080
Location: Norway
I never noticed that, but as you write it here, I can remember some difference.

I don't think that it made to much different, because Burton has manage to make it seem realistic and your mind is drawn away from the book anyway, so it doesn't ruined anything. If you are a person knowing the story from beginning to the end, with every single word. Then the point of view might be very different. I think Burton did a good choice to change Charlie and Willy to what they ended up to be.

But as Stroch said, the ending to Mr. Dahl, that one I much more prefer. Because as she said Willy isn't the best man to work with, but anyways I don't dislike the ending to Burton, it was great to end the way he has done the story. Because he had dragged in the youth of Mr. Wonka, and then Willy changed to be someone else.



_________________________________________________________
"To be a pirate - it's a childhood dream, isn't it? To basically get away with everything... and get paid for it!" - Johnny Depp
Offline
 Profile YIM 
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 11:52 am 
JDZ Webmaster
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 5:47 pm
Posts: 9883
gemini wrote:
This is very interesting because I am one of those who never read the book and was not aware of the differences in Charlie. I must add, just because it was my first thought when reading this, that Dahl's Willy in his way of dealing with Charlie seems more like the tyrannical factory overseer who wanted Oompa Loompas for cheap labor. He does not want Charlie for himself but too perpetuate the factory exactly as Willy has it now.
So I guess my preference would be the modern Charlie with a mind of his own and he and Willy more on an equal status.


You're right, gemini, that Dahl's Willy Wonka is much more tyrannical.

Poor Charlie Bucket has no choice at all in what happens at the end--he "wins" the factory, he's supposed to be delighted about that, his whole family is slammed into the elevator and whisked off because that's Wonka's solution to everything (even though the grandparents, except for Grandpa Joe, are screaming that they don't want to go--I guess children and the elderly have no power or volition). Everything happens exactly as Wonka wants it, and everyone else just has to go along with it.

I suppose on one level that's fine, in a children's story, where there are often omnipotent figures who manipulate events and drag the human characters along in their wake. Maybe Wonka is a mid-1960s update of the all-powerful wizard, witch, giant or genie. And I suppose to children, that is how adults often seem anyway--all-powerful and arbitrary ("You have to come now! Because I said so!"). :blush:

So I can appreciate the artistic truth of Dahl's vision.

But I feel much more comfortable with Burton's film, where Charlie is allowed full personhood and the ability to speak for himself and make a choice. I do understand that Burton and August have altered Dahl's work, but I respect the way they have done it . . . by which I mean that it makes artistic sense and the alterations all hang together and are logical within their own universe. It's not a change here and a change there with an incoherent result; there is a pattern and an internal logic for both the changes to Wonka's character and the changes to Charlie's. So the film has its own unity and integrity.

I have mixed feelings about the Wonka-and-dentist-dad backstory, and can imagine enjoying the film as much without that one, but I love what Burton & company have done to empower Charlie's character, and I'm delighted that those scenes are in the film. I don't necessarily need to see Charlie and Wonka on an equal footing, but I want young Mr. Bucket to be more than a blob that is dragged (cheerfully) from place to place by adults. I love hearing him speak up and make his own decisions.

Thanks for sharing your ideas!

:wonka: :heart2:

Part-Time Poet



_________________________________________________________
Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
-- J. M. Barrie
Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 5:47 pm 
JDZ Webmaster
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 5:47 pm
Posts: 9883
Linda Lee wrote:
**In your opinion, does re-framing the story to let Charlie decide whether to accept or reject the factory enrich the tale or weaken it?
I think it enriches the story, it's better to have a character who can decide for himself rather than one who just goes along passively.


I agree with you on that Linda Lee . . . although, sadly, I must admit that when it comes to a child's experience, perhaps my view is through rose-colored glasses and not very realistic. Often children of Charlie's age have no option but to "go along passively" when the adults in their lives make decisions that affect their lives, so I could be accused of being Pollyanna-ish here.

Still . . . we're talking about fictional models, and I don't think our heroes in fiction necessarily have to be 100% realistic. It's okay for them to be larger-than-life and have better-than-average strength of character. We look to our arts for heroes, and not just reflections of ourselves. How can we aspire to greatness if we never see greatness?

So Empowered Charlie is fine with me even if he's not typical. And I prefer him to Passive, Docile Charlie.


Linda Lee wrote:
In your opinion, which version of Charlie Bucket is the better role model for today’s children—the perfect student or the equal partner?
I like Burton's Charlie, although I would consider him both a student and a partner.


Good point. Charlie has a lot to learn from Wonka about how to be a chocolatier, so of course you're right that Charlie has to be both. I only meant that in Dahl's version, Charlie is not permitted to be anything but a student. He is to learn to do things exactly Wonka's way, but there is no indication that he would be permitted any input of his own. Burton's world seems a freer, more flexible one than Dahl's, and if I were Charlie or a child Charlie's age, I'd rather live in the world where someone listened to me.

Thanks for sharing your ideas!

:wonka: :heart2:

Part-Time Poet



_________________________________________________________
Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
-- J. M. Barrie
Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 8:20 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 8:15 pm
Posts: 19676
Location: near Omaha
Oh my gosh! I don't remember any of this! I need to get my book out and read the ending again. I wasn't aware of such a difference. :blush: so I will have to refrain except to say I thought the movie ending was perfect....


Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 8:26 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 8:15 pm
Posts: 19676
Location: near Omaha
part-time poet wrote:
I have mixed feelings about the Wonka-and-dentist-dad backstory, and can imagine enjoying the film as much without that one,
Part-Time Poet[/color]


Me, too:bounce: ,


Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 6:02 am 
JDZ Webmaster
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 5:47 pm
Posts: 9883
stroch wrote:
I'm always the odd man out, so here goes.

I love the Dahl book, and I prefer his ending. I don't think that Charlie is being particularly rewarded in the book -- Willy is not a nice man, and working with him is not going to be much fun. Dahl's dark vision is somehow seductive though.


Well, lots of fairy tales have that dark and creepy feeling to them, and the adult figures are certainly not much fun or especially good to the children. They're just powerful and arbitrary. You're certainly entitled to prefer Dahl's version, stroch, and you have a long literary history backing you up, so you're not an odd man out, either.

Thank you for being willing to express your opinion. Having lots of different ideas on the board is what makes a discussion interesting.


stroch wrote:
The ending in Wilder's Willy Wonka was beyond dreadful, and way too preachy and contrived.


Roald Dahl hated the Gene Wilder film, and it took so many liberties with his book that I'm not surprised he found it offensive. Even with the backstory for Wonka and the changes in Charlie, the Burton version is much closer to what Dahl actually wrote.

stroch wrote:
Altogether, in the total context of the way Burton structured the film, his ending works well. It gives us a happy ending, with everybody satisfied, and delivers a moral relevant to today's children.


There is a feeling of satisfaction at the end--that both Wonka and the Buckets are having better lives than they had at the beginning of the film, and that they have done things to deserve their good fortune.

I hadn't realized this before--by the end of Burton's film, you don't feel so much that Charlie has been given a terrific gift out of the blue . . . there's more of a sense that he has earned his position, and that he is giving just as much to Wonka as Wonka is giving to him. It's reciprocal and beneficial to both.

Thanks for sharing your ideas!

:wonka: :heart2:

Part-Time Poet



_________________________________________________________
Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
-- J. M. Barrie
Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 9:42 am 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:30 am
Posts: 2503
Location: Colorado
part-time poet wrote:
There is a feeling of satisfaction at the end--that both Wonka and the Buckets are having better lives than they had at the beginning of the film, and that they have done things to deserve their good fortune.


Or.....
In the end, is it complete victory for Wonka? To wit: has the Bucket's house been moved inside the factory, or has the factory expanded onto the Bucket's land and enveloped the house and the family therein...?
Just another perspective for those of us who favor the dark, diabolical side of Willy's (and Tim's and Johnny's) personality! :-)



_________________________________________________________
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa
savvy avi by mamabear
Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 2:10 pm 
JDZ Webmaster
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 5:47 pm
Posts: 9883
Parlez wrote:
part-time poet wrote:
There is a feeling of satisfaction at the end--that both Wonka and the Buckets are having better lives than they had at the beginning of the film, and that they have done things to deserve their good fortune.


Or.....
In the end, is it complete victory for Wonka? To wit: has the Bucket's house been moved inside the factory, or has the factory expanded onto the Bucket's land and enveloped the house and the family therein...?
Just another perspective for those of us who favor the dark, diabolical side of Willy's (and Tim's and Johnny's) personality! :-)


Whether the factory has expanded or the Bucket house been taken inside (i'm inclined to think the latter because of the way Dahl wrote the scene where the grandparents' bed is just stuffed into the glass elevator) wouldn't really affect the changes that the film shows in both Charlie's character and Wonka's, though.

Clearly in the end of the film, the Buckets are fully participatory and happy . . . and Wonka didn't just pick up the house, or envelop the house and its land, without undergoing some changes himself. In the book, Charlie has no decision to make about the offer, and Wonka is never thwarted, even for a few seconds, and the Buckets are jammed onto the elevator even though the grandparents are shouting that they don't want to go.

Of course you can see dark and diabolical political moves going on by Wonka if you wish and it pleases you, but it's certainly not "a complete victory" for Wonka if you mean that he gets everything he wants without having to *give* anything or change in any way. (a) He makes that trek out to see his father, and even if he only did it in order to get Charlie to say yes, he still did it. And Wonka endured a period of commercial failure before he made that move. So certainly not a complete and immediate victory for him . . . and an eventual one that comes because of personal growth is not really diabolical, is it? It's education. (b) Even more significant, Wonka accepts having not only Charlie but the entire Bucket clan living in the factory, which is very different from his original condition of the offer: you'll never see your family again. Wonka accommodates Charlie's wishes and becomes a happier person for doing that.

So in the film, Wonka moves quite a bit from his original position; it's a true negotiation and compromise where Charlie gets what he wants most--to stay with his family--and Wonka gets what he wants most--a true heir. That's ultimately a victory for both of them. It's not one-sided.

But it is quite different from Dahl's ending (which actually suits your position well) . . . at least how the film gets to the ending is quite different. Perhaps that's in keeping with the changes in Johnny and Tim over the past few years, too. They see the world differently now that they are happier men and contented fathers. Those happy peepers of Tim's (to quote Johnny in his new introduction to Burton on Burton) give us strong-willed and idealistic Charlie Bucket . . . I don't know if Tim could have created CATCF in that way ten years ago.

:wonka: :heart2:

Part-Time Poet



_________________________________________________________
Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
-- J. M. Barrie
Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 2:22 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 5:03 pm
Posts: 15256
Location: Darkest UK~ Down in Albion
It's strange that in the book Charlie was so two dimensional, isn't it. Like a fairytale character in a way, just there as a vehicle for a story rather than having much interest in himself as a character. Strange, I mean, because of Dahl's book where he reworks fairy tales, Revolting Rhymes. Why write such a non-character when he clearly didn't think much of the fairy tale style, as seen in his reworking, where the fairytale characters like Little Red Riding Hood stopped being passive and became proactive, feisty even?

Not quite on topic I know, musings really.

And, thinking cynically, of course Tim may have an eye for the market. Kids today aren't going to have much sympathy with a character who just takes what's dished out, are they, and they make up a fair bit of the demographic that the film is aimed at.



_________________________________________________________
Work hard, learn well, and make peace with the fact that you'll never be as cool as Johnny Depp. GQ.

Solace in the flood
Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 2:34 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2006 8:29 am
Posts: 572
Quote:
Whether the factory has expanded or the Bucket house been taken inside

Just a bit of silliness really, but I think it's been taken inside because I seem to recall it's sitting on the banks of the chocolate river.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
 Page 1 of 2 [ 18 posts ]  Go to page
1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  


phpBB skin developed by: John Olson
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group