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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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What can I say? Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was on of the first books I read in English. And I loved it. If only for the chocolate. The whole idea seemed phantastic. And at a younger age its insanity didn’t shine through. And now there’s a film for the book. Technically the second big one, but I haven’t seen the other one, so that doesn’t count.

In what I consider an encouraging trend, the film is screened in both German and English versions at the local multiplex cinema. I’ve heard that this is getting more popular for large or studenty cities. But here in Göttingen it’s not as good as it sounds as the English version is screened exactly once a week – on Sunday afternoons. As I was quite curious how they’d mingle the English story with an American film company, it meant I was in for cinema going on a Sunday afternoon.

After making an effort to arrive late at the cinema, so I needn’t see the commercials, I had to endure some extra slow queueing at the only ticket counter that was open. Not too bad delay-wise, though, and as the copy of the film they had was slightly scratched, they even gave us an advance warning and a discounted price (€4 for students). The strange thing was that the film started in German. Which was annoying for the large German-speaking parts of the audience and a royal pain for the non-German-speaking parts. Luckily that must’ve just been a mistake and they switched over to the English sound track after a few minutes.

In total I thought the film worked quite well. I simply loved the scenes with Charlie’s grandparents. Just seeing them at the beginning immediately reconnected me to the story and how I thought it should look like many years ago. And while I’ve always considered the whole story to be very English, the mixing of things with American was moderate enough to be tolerable. As for the bad things, I have to go with the Oompa Loompa singing. While it was quite funny, it’s just not my kind of humour.

The different children in the film were quite funny as well. Particularly with the whole stereotypical setups they were presented in. And at least for the boys I felt a little bit sorry. And the whole setup which looked like it was liberally nicked together from other films – ranging from the chocolate machines, strangely, from Matrix-like ones, to the Teletubby-esque landscapes. But nicked in a nice and enjoyable way.

But that should perhaps go without saying for a film made by Tim Burton. He must be a man of a severely twisted humour. And someone who isn’t afraid to tackle any topic – no matter how potentially embarrassing it might be – and turn it into a film. A quirky film perhaps.

Finally, I should also mention Johnny Depp. He has made an equally wide range of films. And quite a few with Tim Burton in fact. I think I first saw him in Dead Man which was amazing. Not too much acting, mostly sitting around in black and white. Very cool. Since, I’ve seen a number of films with him. Many of them were very good but there’ve always been films which I wouldn’t even consider seeing in between. Although by now (as in Blow, ay) he seems to be able to do more than just sit around calmly, that seems to be one of his particular strengths. And thus – as sceptical as I was about this – he was probably a very good choice for the Willy Wonka in this film. The slightly twitchy and insane guy who doesn’t communicate and just goes his way. And who’s very much into his chocolate and sweets.

And while those last points remind me quite a lot of Chocolat, there’s a big difference: While the chocolate in Chocolat looks delicious, the chocolate in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory looks like a heave hard and dry mess. People need to bite really hard to bite off a piece and it makes a noise which I wouldn’t associate with good chocolate.

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

August 22, 2005, 1:45

Tagged as charlie and the chocolate factory, film, johnny depp, roald dahl, tim burton.

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