Film Adaptations of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory

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In this paper I am going to examine the two film adaptations made from Roald Dahl’s book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I will introduce the story itself and the characters then will move on to write about the Mel Stuart adaptation released in 1971, and finally the Tim Burton version released in 2005. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was first published in the United States in 1964 before appearing in the United Kingdom in 1967. It was a great success in both countries followed by other books, such as the BFG and Matilda. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is set in an industrial city, a “great town”, thus there is universality to the narrative. The only unique feature that distinguishes it from any other place is Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, an exquisite confectionery. After years of silence, Willy Wonka announces a contest: he has hidden five Golden Tickets in Wonka Bars, and the five lucky winners who find them will get the chance to tour his factory. Charlie Bucket, the main character has no distinct personality, but it is the reader who becomes Charlie, thus directly entering the story. The other children have behaviour problems, rather than characteristics/personalities. They symbolize various sins: Augustus Gloop, an obese boy with an extreme appetite for chocolate, symbolizes gluttony and lust; Veruca Salt, a spoiled rich girl, exemplifies selfishness, envy and greed; Violet Beauregard, a record holder in gum chewing, represents mindlessness and pride; and Mike Teavee, a television addict, personifies idleness. When they are punished the reader is satisfied, without feeling sorry for any of them. Another set of characters are the Oompa-Loompas. In the original story they were little black people from Africa, but after having been accused of racism, Dahl changed them: they became little people with long, wavy hair from Loompaland. They live and work in the factory, and after each of the four children is punished, they sing songs which are moral lessons for the reader. Willy Wonka, the owner of the factory, is in control and always on the move. He embodies children’s desires to take part in bodily pleasures involving food and imitate aggressive fantasies, and he is free to do all these things, while children only dream about them. As in most fairy tales, after the four “evil” children are punished, honest and good-hearted Charlie gets his reward. It turns out that the whole “contest” was for Mr Wonka to find someone to run the factory when he is gone. Of course he doesn’t “want a grown-up” , but a child to whom he can tell his “sweetmaking secrets” . The symbolism of character names is quite obvious. In the case of Augustus Gloop, Augustus means “great, magnificent”, Gloop (or glop) is a kind of creamy, slimy substance, so he can be seen as some big brainless blob of Jell-O. His last name could also be an onomatopoeic word: “gloop, gloop, gloop” suggesting fast swallowing without chewing, i.e. his feverish appetite for chocolate. Veruca Salt’s name is commented on in the book by Willy Wonka himself: “I always thought veruca was a sort of wart that you got on the sole of your foot!” Her character also reflects this since she is an annoying little brat you would just want to get rid of. Her last name could also be a reference to the fact that her father is in the nut business. Violet Beauregard’s name is a hint to her punishment of becoming a blueberry, Mike Teavee’s to his television addiction. The first film adaptation of the book was made in 1971, titled Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It was directed by Mel Stuart and the character of Willy Wonka is played by Gene Wilder. The film was in fact a promotional tool for a new Quaker Oats bar, which turned out to be a failure, unlike the film, which is regarded as a cult classic in the United States. The message of greed and honesty are presented in a very humorous way and the film is in fact a musical, full of songs not only by...
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