Tim Burton brings his quirky and distinctive style to Roald Dahl’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It’s a wild and wacky ride of a movie that is much closer to the sensibilities of Dahl than the earlier and more musical Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Burton teams up again with Johnny Depp who plays Wonka as a slightly creepy man who has spent too many years inside a chocolate factory. There are wonderfully twisted touches throughout the film and the incredible attention to production design that is a hallmark of Burton films.
Charlie Bucket’s family is very poor, but happy. All four of his grandparents live with him and his parents in an impossibly crooked house that looks as if it is located in a bomb crater. They make the best of things as they struggle away in the shadow of the enormous candy factory. The Dickensian crowded house with little food provides a stark contrast with the colours and sweetness of the candy that comes out of the factory.
The characters are heavily stylized to the point of being cartoonish. I don’t know if it’s a combination of makeup and colour-correction, but there is an air of unreality to the characters. They are instantly recognizable for what they represent. The children and parents who tour the factory each represent parenting styles and character types. In some ways the whole story can be viewed as a lighter version of Dante’s Inferno with Hell as a chocolate factory. As each child is punished, the Oompah Loompahs (all played by Deep Roy) sing a song (with lyrics by Dahl) about the sins and predicament that the child is in. The singing is accompanied by elaborate production numbers with music (and vocals) by Danny Elfman. Each production number is done in a different style with a particular music and visual style. There is an infectious energy and sense of fun to the production numbers that more than make up for any of the uneven parts of the film.
I loved the film and it’s a perfect for summer with Tim Burton getting back to a lighter, funnier tone.
tags: charlieandthechocolatefactory, review, film, timburton