Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn
milwaukeesfs

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The allegation by Tim Burton and Johhny Depp that they were not so much remakeing the 1971 musical "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" as redoing a new movie from the book may be somewhat disingenuous, since ther are shote in both movies that are not in the book. However, they are both very different films. Gene Wilder's trickster/teacher Wonka had a glint of madness, but there was definitely method there. Depp, with his cyanotic complexion and Jack-the-Ripper-gone-Carnaby-Street outfit is obvioulsy channelling Micheal Jackson, a fact made more disturbing in that his portrayal is that of someone gone "queer" in the old sense through paranoia and isolation. Burton's wonka Works is grander and darker, but somehow not more dangerous than the musical's more candy-colored sets. After Augustus Gloop, Verucha Salt, and the other brats disappeared inthe musical, they were never seen again, which made their fates more ominous. Was Augustus in fact rescued fromthe fudge beaters? Was the incinerator REALLY turned off? Thought hemagic of special effects we can now see that they all do in fact survice, although some in strangely altered states.

The musical version outraged Dahl purists, although I actually think Wilder's manic Wonka is truer to Dahl's book than Depp's mad candymaker. If the musical's main offenses were the pompous and tedious Oompa-Looma songs and the outlandish Ooompa-Loompa makeup, it more than made up for it in pace and energy. In Burton's version, parents stand around for agonizingly long times doing nothing while the children amble into danger. The 1971 version avoided that with tighter pacing and the fantastic logic of musicals tht everyone else stops what her or she is doing while someone else is singing. And I thought the songs added a lot. "I've got a Golden Ticket" is sucha joyous song, you can accept the aged Grandpa Joe dancing for joy. By contrast, the version where David Kelly's "Grandpa Joe" dances without song or music seems pointless. Remember that "The Candyman" was a good enough song to be a hit on its own before being run into the ground. And is there a more beautiful song than "Pure Imagination"? And i've always had a soft spot for Verucha salt's over-the-top explosion of brattiness in "I want it Now!"

Depp's is certainly a wonderful if eerie characterization, supported by significan new backstory of his strange childhood dominated by his dentist father (Christopher Lee!). David Kelly is charmingly feeble and sweet in the early parts of the film, but once into the factory fades into the background, unlike Jack Albertson's Grandpa Joe, who reamined an influential, if not always wise, commentator on the action in the older film. The kids are kids, although the new bathch of brats seemed to be worse than their earlier counterparts, especially Mike Teevee, whom I defy anyone not to want to slap.

Ultimately, in the bet of all possible worlds, I would choose Burton's sets and costumes with the 1971 script, cast, and score (except replace the Oompa-Loompa songs with the new ones by Elfman, which were a scream--).
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