Twice a day, on his way to and from school, little Charlie Bucket had
to walk right past the gates of the factory. And every time he went by he
would begin to walk very, very slowly, and he would hold his nose high in the
air and take long deep sniffs of the gorgeous chocolatey smell all around him. Oh,
how he loved that smell! And oh, how he wished he could go inside the factory
and see what it was like.
- Roald Dahl,
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Acclaimed director Tim Burton brings his vividly imaginative style to the
beloved Roald Dahl classic
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, about eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka
(JOHNNY DEPP) and
Charlie Bucket (FREDDIE HIGHMORE), a good-hearted boy
from a poor family who lives in the shadow of Wonka’s extraordinary factory.
Most nights in the Bucket home, dinner is a
watered-down bowl of cabbage soup, which young Charlie
gladly shares with his mother (HELENA BONHAM CARTER) and father (NOAH TAYLOR)
and both pairs of grandparents. Theirs is a tiny, tumbledown, drafty
old house but it is filled with love. Every night, the last
thing Charlie sees from his window is the great factory, and he
drifts off to sleep dreaming about what might be inside.
For nearly fifteen years, no one has seen a single worker going in or
coming out of the factory, or caught a glimpse of Willy Wonka himself,
yet, mysteriously, great quantities of chocolate are still being
made and shipped to shops all over the world.
One day Willy Wonka makes a momentous announcement. He will open his
famous factory and reveal “all of its secrets and magic” to
five lucky children who find golden tickets hidden inside five randomly selected Wonka chocolate bars.
Nothing would make Charlie’s family happier than to see
him win but the odds are very much against him as they can
only afford to buy one chocolate bar a year, for his birthday.
Indeed, one by one, news breaks around the world about the children
finding golden tickets and Charlie’s hope grows dimmer. First there is
gluttonous Augustus Gloop, who thinks of nothing but
stuffing sweets into his mouth all day, followed by
spoiled Veruca Salt, who throws fits if her father doesn’t buy
her everything she wants. Next comes Violet Beauregarde, a champion gum chewer who cares only for the trophies in
her display case, and finally surly Mike Teavee, who’s always
showing off how much smarter he is than everyone else.
But then, something wonderful happens. Charlie finds some money
on the snowy street and takes it to the nearest store for a Wonka Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight,
thinking only of how hungry he is and how good it will taste. There, under the wrapper is
a flash of gold. It’s the last ticket. Charlie is going to the factory!
His Grandpa Joe (DAVID KELLY) is so excited by the news that
he springs out of bed as if suddenly years younger, remembering a happier time
when he used to work in the factory, before Willy Wonka
closed its gates to the town forever. The family decides that Grandpa Joe
should be the one to accompany Charlie on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Once inside, Charlie is dazzled by one amazing sight after another. Wondrous gleaming
contraptions of Wonka’s own invention churn, pop and whistle, producing
ever new and different edible delights. Crews of
merry Oompa-Loompas mine mountains of fudge
beside a frothy chocolate waterfall or ride a
translucent, spun-sugar, dragon-headed boat down a chocolate river past crops of twisted
candy cane trees and edible mint-sugar grass. Marshmallow cherry creams grow on
shrubs, ripe and sweet. Elsewhere, a hundred
trained squirrels on a hundred tiny stools shell nuts for chocolate bars faster
than any machine and Wonka himself pilots an
impossible glass elevator that rockets sideways, slantways and every which way you can
think of through the vast and fantastic factory.
Almost as intriguing as his fanciful inventions is Willy Wonka himself, a
gracious but most unconventional host. He thinks about almost nothing but
candy – except, every once in a while, when he suddenly seems to be
thinking about something that happened long ago, that he can’t quite
talk about. It’s been said that Wonka hasn’t stepped outside the factory for years. Who he truly is and why he has
devoted his life to making sweets Charlie can only guess.
Meanwhile, the other children prove to be a rotten bunch, so consumed with
themselves that they scarcely appreciate the wonder of Wonka’s creations. One by one, their greedy, spoiled,
mean-spirited or know-it-all personalities lead them into all kinds of
trouble that force them off the tour before it’s even finished.
When only little Charlie Bucket is left, Willy Wonka
reveals the final secret, the absolute grandest prize of all: the keys to the factory itself. Long isolated from his own
family, Wonka feels it is time to find an heir to his candy empire, someone he can trust to carry on with his
life’s work and so he devised this elaborate contest to select that one special child.
What he never expects is that his act of immeasurable generosity might bring him an even more valuable gift in return.
* * *
Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with
Village Roadshow Pictures, a Zanuck Company / Plan B Production of a Tim Burton
Johnny Depp stars in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,
based on the book by Roald Dahl, and also starring Freddie Highmore, David Kelly,
Helena Bonham Carter, Noah Taylor, Missi Pyle, James Fox, with Deep Roy
and Christopher Lee. Directed by Tim Burton
from a screenplay by John August, the film is produced by
Brad Grey and Richard D. Zanuck.
Patrick McCormick, Felicity Dahl, Michael Siegel, Graham Burke
and Bruce Berman executive produce.
Director of photography is Philippe Rousselot, A.F.C./A.S.C. Production
designed by Alex McDowell. Edited by Chris Lebenzon, A.C.E. Costume designer
is Gabriella Pescucci. Music by Danny Elfman.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory released worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures,
a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select
territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.
This film is rated PG by the MPAA for “quirky situations, action and mild language.”
DVD Release Date:
- November 8, 2005 (US)
- November 21, 2005 (UK)
AOL: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
BRINGING ROALD DAHL'S CLASSIC STORY TO THE SCREEN
In bringing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to life on screen, producers Brad Grey and
Richard Zanuck had some small idea of what they were getting themselves into.
“This was bigger than anything I’ve been involved with in my entire career, not only as a producer but as a studio head.
It’s bigger in scope, size and imagination,” says Zanuck, an Oscar winner for
Driving Miss Daisy and 1991 recipient of the Academy’s Thalberg Award.
“Here was a book with the potential, just visually, to be absolutely
spectacular on film and we were excited with the idea of
being able to produce it on a scale that Roald would have appreciated, without compromising
any of the heart he put into it,” says Grey, currently Chairman and CEO of
Paramount Pictures Motion Picture Group
and a four time recipient of the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award, as
well as an Emmy and Golden Globe winner for The Sopranos
and a 17-time Emmy nominee during his career as an
independent producer. “We took our time to get the script
right and assemble a team that felt the same way we did about it.”
The filmmakers also sought the support and
collaboration of Felicity Dahl, Roald’s wife and the caretaker of his estate
since his death in 1990. Says Grey, “Without her blessing, we wouldn’t have a movie.”
Dahl, an executive producer on the film, acknowledges the scale of the undertaking. “An adaptation like this is
daunting because I don’t think there’s a child in this world who hasn’t read
the story or knows about it. Every child wants to be Charlie.”
Delighted at how the creative team came together and how Roald’s original images
were interpreted on a grand scale, she calls it, “the ideal combination:
Roald Dahl, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, absolutely unbeatable and completely in sync.”
Published in 1964, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
recently celebrated its 40th anniversary in print. As beloved by children and adults today as
it has been throughout the past four decades, the book has sold over 13 million copies worldwide and been translated into
32 languages. Its enduring popularity indicates how
well the author understood, appreciated and communicated to children. As Grey observes,
“He never talked down to his readers or underestimated their intelligence.”
Johnny Depp, who stars as Willy Wonka, especially appreciates,
“the unexpected twists in Dahl’s writing. You think it’s going in one direction and then it
slams you with another alternative, another route, and makes you think. At its center,
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a great morality tale. But there’s also a lot of magic and fun.”
Although hugely popular with children, the consensus of the book’s adult fans is
that, most definitely, “it’s more than a children’s book,” says Zanuck.
“It’s a wild ride, certainly, a fun-house candy fantasyland, but it has deeper emotional implications. The character of
Wonka, who he is and who he becomes at the end of the story
through his connection with young Charlie, is very moving. It’s a fantasy that touches everyone.”
When it came time to select a director, Tim Burton was ideal choice. “When you look at his body of work, there’s a
running theme of intelligence and whimsy that’s perfectly suited for a story like this,” says Grey.
“Like Dahl, he
never underestimates the sophistication of his audience. In our first
conversations it was clear that Tim was a fan
and wanted to be as faithful to the book as possible, which was right in sync with how we felt.”
“One of the interesting aspects of the book is that it’s so vivid in mood and feeling and so specific, yet it still leaves
room for interpretation,” Burton believes.
“It leaves room for your own imagination, which, I think, is one of Dahl’s strengths as a storyteller.
“Some adults forget what it was like to be a kid. Roald didn’t,” Burton continues. “So you have characters that
remind you of people in your own life and kids you went to school with, but at the same time it
harkens back to age-old archetypes of mythology and fairy tales. It’s a
mix of emotion and humor and adventure that’s absolutely timeless and
I think that’s why it stays with you. He remembers vividly what it was like to be that age but he
also layers his work with an adult perspective. That’s why you can revisit this
book at any time and get different things from it no matter what your age.”
Burton worked previously with Felicity Dahl when he produced the
1996 animated fantasy adventure James and the Giant Peach,
adapted from another of Roald’s books, and she
was especially pleased when he committed to Charlie. She sees in him
some reflections of her late husband’s unique “creativity and sense of humor,” adding
that, “I wish Roald was here to work on it with Tim, because they would have been brilliant together.”
“What we have,” says Zanuck, ”is a blending of these two genius minds. Tim has gone back
to the specifics of the author’s intent and given his own extraordinary spin to it.”
Early in pre-production, Burton visited the Dahl home and looked inside the spare, unheated workroom where
Roald did all of his writing. Away from the noise and bustle of the house, it was his private no-frills
sanctuary. Burton was amazed to realize how
closely his designs for Charlie Bucket’s ramshackle house
resembled this structure and Felicity Dahl
confirmed it was very likely the author’s inspiration for the Bucket home.
Moved by the experience, Burton says, “It made me feel like we were
definitely on the same wavelength. It was uncanny how similar the two
structures were. Roald even used rolled-up pieces of cardboard to prop together a
makeshift desk for himself. I never had the opportunity to meet the man, but just
through the work I feel some kind of connection with him.”
Screenwriter John August (Big Fish) has his own special connection with Roald Dahl.
“When I was in the third grade,” he recalls, “we had to write a letter to a famous person. Nearly everyone chose
Jimmy Carter, who was the president then, but I chose Roald Dahl because my favorite book was
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Incredibly, I got back a postcard from him, from England. I was ten years old and it
was my first contact with an author. That was one of the things that inspired me to become a writer. So it was a great
honor and responsibility for me to adapt this book into a movie.”
What touches August most about the story is that, “even though Charlie is very poor, and he doesn’t have much to
eat, he lives in a little house with all of the people that he loves – mother, father, and both sets of grandparents.
That’s a remarkable gift that any kid would be lucky to have.”
Taking his cue both from the book and the filmmakers, August maintained the story’s non-specific time or
place. “It’s timeless,” states Grey. “It doesn’t matter if it’s today or
40 years ago. A message that suggests being true to yourself and to other people, and treating others as you would like to
be treated – the golden rule – is never outdated.”
Burton and August added a nuance to the Wonka character by offering a glimpse into his own
childhood. In flashbacks, while the children, accompanied by one parent each (or in
Charlie’s case, his grandfather) tour the factory, Willy revisits crucial moments from his past and remembers
conversations with his own stern father, town dentist Dr. Wilbur Wonka. We see the
overly protective Wonka Sr. forbid his son to eat sweets, and imagine how young Willy’s unrequited longing for
a taste of chocolate became a lifelong fascination that grew into the Wonka candy empire.
“Where the book allows room for possibility and the reader’s
interpretation,” explains Burton, “we felt the film needed to provide
some framework in the case of Wonka’s eccentricity, to offer some possibility of
why he is the way he is without delving too deeply into it. Why is he behaving this way and what’s behind it?”
Felicity Dahl concurs, noting that, “all books have to be changed a
bit in making a film. The important thing is that the alterations enhance the
story rather than detract from it, and I believe that’s what Tim has done here. When you choose someone like Tim to make
a film, you choose him for his creative ability so you have to give him your trust.”
During the tour, Charlie’s innocent question about whether
or not Wonka remembers his first taste of candy stirs deeply buried feelings in the famous chocolatier. When he
later offers Charlie the grandest prize of all – the factory itself
with all its wonders – and Charlie refuses to accept if it means leaving his
family behind, it gives Wonka pause. Maybe
he’s underestimated the value of family. Maybe
Charlie, who is always a little hungry and lives in a broken-down hovel, has something better than money and
“It’s a beautifully simple message, in this world where people are always
striving after material things and success,” says Burton. “There are material things and then there are the
emotional and spiritual. Sometimes the most important things are the simplest.”
1 | 2 |
Crew >> Cast >> DVD Release Date >> Bringing Roald Dahl’s Classic Story to the Screen
>> Casting Willy Wonka, Charlie Bucket and the Bucket Family
>> The Four Rotten Children
>> The Oompa-Loompas and Dr. Wonka
>> Building Wonka’s World: Inspired Production Design and State-of-the-Art Practical & Virtual
Effects Combine for an Unparalleled Atmosphere of Wonder
>> The Chocolate River
>> The Squirrels
>> Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Marks the 11th Collaboration between
Tim Burton and Acclaimed Composer Danny Elfman >>
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The IMAX Experience
About the Cast >>
About the Filmmakers
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