Did you know, 7th July is Chocolate day? What better day to write about the adaptations of Roald Dahl’s “Charlie In the Chocolate Factory”.
With this franchise being originally a book by the beloved children’s author ‘Ronald Dahl’ it was enhanced for the big screen later on. It’s first adaptation to the screen with ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ directed by Mel Stuart (‘If it’s Tuesday then it must be Belgium’, ‘One is a lonely number’) was in 1971 with its first television debut in 1974. Then later Tim Burton adapted his own version with the title ‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’ of the children’s series in 2005 but with a darker twist but it has that classic Tim Burton darkness he is known for with films like ‘Sweeny Todd’ and ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’.
So how do these movies compare side by side? Well, for starters, the movies were created almost 30 years apart. This means the film quality and aesthetic are very different for various reasons. ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ is already without much analysing is more child friendly. Its grittier colours give it that classic look that films in the 70s were known for. The Stuart adaptation of the children’s book was more light hearted, following closely to the original story with style and what we expected from an adaptation. Whereas the Tim Burton version is incredibly cleaner yet has a dark aesthetic. When you look at the pictures below where it shows you inside the factory. You can see in the Stuart version it’s bright, messy yet has that child-like wonder. With lots of flowers and mushrooms it felt like a magical forest. But in the Burton version notably is more grungy and darker for starters. It feels less child friendly; it has a notably more open field setting with a tree or two a few metres apart, it doesn’t really feel like a forest. Little things like the lighting add to the set, with Stuart’s adaptation having windows and decent lighting while Burton’s feels darker and less natural light. Giving a more artificial environment.
Continuing on our analysis of the movie’s aesthetics/style and the film itself. It is important to note that the storylines are also significantly different. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory stuck to a child friendly story. Each child is eliminated through each room but at the end, bar the discourse where it was discovered Charlie was bribed to look into Willy’s secret recipes by spies while he visited the factory, it ended light heartedly and without any change in pacing that’s not jarring or taking away from the original plot. However, Tim Burton took a more questionable and darker route with its interpretation. Diving more into the chocolate maker’s story and finding out about his unsupportive father as the story progresses. He’s thrown into flashbacks and we learn about the different memories he has, such as when Mike TV says a familiar phrase to Willy ‘Candy is a waste of time’. Burton added more substance to the character of the chocolatier, even down to how he doesn’t like families because of his personal trauma.
Overall, it does feel like the two movies had two different audiences in mind, in my personal viewpoint. The original Stuart adaptation felt like it wanted to be a family orientated film with its child friendly aesthetic and colourful scenes while Burton wanted to appeal to the audiences who grew up on the original Stuart film but wanted to make it more attractive for an older audience, especially with his reputation for film’s like Nightmare Before Christmas and Sweeny Todd being more campaigned with horror elements.
by Georgia Bevan