Burton masterful in recreating Dahl's story
edited: Tuesday, March 07, 2006
By Eric M. Croas
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Tuesday, March 07, 2006
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A DVD Review of 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one of my all-time favorite books growing up, because I loved the visual landscapes that Ronald Dahl painted in his book. It also provided characters that were true to the word character, and the sculpted depth of Willy Wonka’s world within his huge factory was one that I often dreamed of. I was young, but I loved how the book inspired me to imagine sounds, smells, and even textures.
When the first movie version came out, I enjoyed it, but I was bothered by the differences between the movie and book. When I asked my mother about it, she told me that movies often take “creative license” when re-telling a story. I accepted that answer, and I have seen Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka a countless number of times.
Now Tim Burton has taken his turn at telling Dahl’s story, and I have to say that I have fallen in love with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory all over again. Burton certainly has a signature style that is felt in the movie, but at the same time, he has stayed very on point with the novel.
His sets and the cinematography are stunning. I really like how he captures the grey, cold and gloomy mood of the world outside of Wonka’s factory, which is a stark contrast to the rich and vibrant color schemes of Wonka’s inner sanctuary. Charlie’s house is old and dilapidated, but the love shared within the tight confines is captured with warm lighting and well-chosen camera angles.
The cast is well picked indeed. I loved Johnny Depp as Wonka, and in the one license Burton takes from the story to tell us more about Wonka’s childhood, I thought casting Christopher Lee as Wonka’s dentist father was excellent.
All of the children were cast well, and it cracked me up as I realized how much they looked like the old illustrations in my copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was as if they had come to life straight out of the book. I was very impressed by Freddie Highmore as Charlie. I had loved the work he did in Finding Neverland, and it was good to see that he and Depp had retained the same amazing chemistry shared in Finding Neverland.
Watching this movie was a lot like winning one of those coveted “Golden Tickets,” and taking time to watch the extra features on the DVD was like taking the magic tour of the factory. I spent as much time, if not more, going through and watching the special featurettes as I did the movie in one sitting. I often do not commit more than 15-20 minutes at a time, and I rarely watch extras more than once. For this DVD, I have actually done both and I guarantee that I am still not done with it.
I do not have children of my own yet, but I can say that this will be a movie/story that I plan to introduce them to. Given that kids tend to watch a title over and over, I do not make that statement lightly.
GRADE: A+ (movie) A+ (DVD)
-Eric M. Croas