Saturday, August 26, 2023

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Movie Name:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Year of Release: 2005
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, Helena Bonham Carter, David Kelly, Noah Taylor, Missi Pyle, James Fox, Deep Roy, Christopher Lee, Adam Godley, AnnaSophia Robb, Julia Winter, Jordan Fry, Philip Wiegratz, Blair Dunlop, Liz Smith, Eileen Essell
Genre: Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review
Director Tim Burton followed the well received "Big Fish" (which was positioned for a big Oscar momentum that never occurred), with a new take on Roald Dahl's book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", which was adapted to the screen by his usual collaborator John August. The narrative focuses on the story of Charlie Bucket, who lives with his family of meager possessions in a small town where an enormous chocolate factory exists. Charlie lives with his parents and his grandparents, all of whom are bedridden. Grandpa Joe who used to work in the factory, tells Charlie that the factory is owned by a genial chocolatier by the name of Willy Wonka. Wonka made a name for himself by creating fantastic treats and desserts, however his secret concoctions started being copied by others, and he decided to close his factory completely, laying off all workers as well. To everyone's surprise, Wonka decides to open the factory to 5 special children, as long as they find a golden ticket he has hidden in his chocolate bars that are sold all over the world. After a few attempts, Charlie finally gets his, alongside Augustus Gloop from Germany, Veruca Salt from the UK, the competitive Violet from Denver and the smart Mike, who doesn't even like chocolate. As the children and their guardians get to the factory, Wonka appears as their host, explaining that he's taking them on a journey through the factory and much of what he does, with a special prize being awarded to one of them. 
The marriage of this particular book from Roald Dahl with Tim Burton's universe actually makes total sense. Tim Burton has always focused his universe and attention on heroes/characters that are somewhat alienated from the world, or who are considered eccentric or monstrous by the world at large. Willy Wonka with his sense of humor, poise and eccentric personality fits this Burtonesque archetype perfectly. The film manages to move through the different set pieces distilling both a sense of wonder and also a slight edginess which comes from watching these somewhat spoiled children (and their parents/guardians) get their comeuppance. Tim Burton manages to bring a true sense of wonder and also melancholy to some of these pieces, all of which are amplified by the nuanced performance that Johnny Depp brings to the character. His take on Willy Wonka is a bit like a grown up that never truly stopped being a child, and yet also someone who can and has seen the darkness that lurks behind both a child's and an adult's universe. And while most of the supporting characters are indeed limited archetypes, they're nonetheless showcased in a way that makes them both endearing and humorous (for all their limitations, they're never portrayed as monsters or avarice purveyors). The supporting cast is solid, with Missi Pyle, David Kelly, Noah Taylor and Helena Bonham Carter all creating affable characters. The production design from Alex McDowell is stunning, as is the cinematography from Philippe Rousselot, costumes from Gabriella Pescucci and score from Danny Elfman. A solid film from a director whose work is always worth visiting.