For this paper, I chose the Roald Dahl modern fantasy book, Charlie and the
Chocolate Factory, and the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Dahl's
books are mostly fantasy and full of imagination. They are always a little cruel, but never
without humor - a thrilling mixture of the grotesque and comic. A frequent motif is that
people are not what they appear to be. Dahl's works for children are usually told from the
point of view of a child, and they typically involve adult villains, usually women who
hate and mistreat children, and feature at least one "good" adult to counteract the
villain(s). However, this tale offers a different formula in that the adults in Charlie's life
are good. It is the children that he goes to the factory with that would be considered
"bad" and there are consequences to their bad behavior. This paper will discuss some of
the differences between the book and the film, as well as some of my own thoughts on the
The film stars Gene Wilder as the eccentric chocolate maker, Peter Ostrum as Charlie,
and Jack Albertson as Grandpa Joe. The film was released in 1971. It was not a full
musical in the usual sense, featuring only six songs. Some were notably well received,
including "The Candy Man Can," and "The Oompa Loompa Song." "Cheer Up, Charlie"
and "I've Got a Golden Ticket" are songs are regularly edited out of TV screenings,
presumably because the songs are widely (but not universally) disliked. Dahl's screenplay
follows his book's basic storyline fairly closely. Mel Stuart's direction however takes
some parts of the movie in a slightly darker direction than the book. One sequence, for
example, the boat ride on the chocolate river, in hindsight shows a psychedelic influence
seen more at rock concerts than in films for children. I think that the book can be enjoyed
by readers 3rd grade and up, but I think the film would be enjoyed by a more mature child,
perhaps 5th or 6th grade.
Other differences between the film and the book include:
The film expanded the role of Wonka's rival Slugworth, who tempts the children to give him the recipe for Wonka's Everlasting Gobstoppers. It turns out at the end, that he is actually an employee of Wonka who participates in a test of character of the ticket holders, which Charlie Bucket passes with flying colors.
The effect of Fizzy Lifting Drinks that are only described in the book are demonstrated by Charlie and Grandpa Joe in the movie.
In the book, Veruca Salt, the spoiled brat, was thrown down a garbage chute by trained squirrels that could recognize a "bad nut", while the movie had her dropped down a garbage chute by an egg testing machine that could recognize a "bad egg".
After Willy Wonka, Charlie, and Grandpa Joe fly out of the factory in the great glass elevator, the book describes the fates of other four children as they leave the factory. This is followed by the elevator crashing through the roof of Charlie's house to pick up the rest of his family. These details are omitted in the film.
Roald Dahl hated this film so much that he refused to sell the director legal rights to make Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.
The Oompa Loompa's in the film were shown wearing a different costume than that of their deerskin, as in the book.
After reading the book, I found that the film followed along the lines of the
book fairly well. I found myself instantly saying, "That wasn't in the movie!" This was
especially true of the ending, in which Wonka and Charlie go to pick up the rest of his
family so that they can move into the factory. I also found that the squirrel scene with
Veruca Salt would have been great to see in the film, and I can only hope that the new
adaptation will feature it, instead of the geese that are shown in the original...