Burton’s Pure Choppification of Dahl’s Novel

Posted: November 17, 2010 in Roald Dahl, Tim Burton, Willy Wonka

Ha. Yeah–Burton’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Ol’ Chop actually bought that one to study exactly what went wrong. What a waste of great production design. And it was actually called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory like the book. Although it was more about Wonka. Yet the first is called Willy Wonka but is more about Charlie – D’oh!

Depp as Michael Jackson's Dream Self -- minus the kid obsession

Wonka’s backstory in Burton’s film was nothing short of idiotic. How can you keep a mythic character mythic when you demystify their past? If they were gonna do that it should have been bugnuts abstract – Burton could even have gone insane with the German Expressionist stuff he loves so much (as do I)! He coulda gone full-steam Dr. Caligari with that shit. Stylise the crap out of it so you still don’t know whether it’s actually the truth or not – at least then you’d be deepening it yet not actually giving any more clarity – which is TOTALLY Dahl! But best not go there in the first place.

I do have inside knowledge that after many assurances to the Dahl family, Depp and Burton basically just went off and did their own thing, and the Dahl’s  family was not happy with result.

Speaking of which–THE CHOPPAH loves the original WONKA film (though it does struggle with sap factor–e.g., “Cheer Up Charlie”).

I also love the original novel by Dahl.

A Tale of Two Wonkas

Interestingly enough, though, Dahl despised the first film, despite being the primary screenplay author.  My guess is that he–like Stephen King with Kubrick’s The Shining–felt marginalized and alienated by the adaptation (which was amended quite a bit from his original screenplay draft). 

Dahl “remained convinced that his first choice – comedian Spike Milligan – would have been better for [Wonka than Wilder].”


“He thought it placed too much emphasis on Willy Wonka and not enough on Charlie.”

HA! He would’ve just LOVED Burton’s adaptation then!

Dahl was also particularly pissed of that, “…the movie turned sweetshop rival Slugworth into a Wonka spy and encouraged Charlie and Grandpa Joe to belch their way to salvation.”

Go figure.  I think the Slugworth subplot was one of that film’s greatest assets.  And the concentration on Charlie almost killed it for me.

Oh, here’s an ironic quote by Burton sometime before his Wonkabortion was released: 

I don’t want to crush people’s childhood dreams, but the original film is sappy,” Burton said. 

“I responded to the children’s book because it respected that children can be adult, and I think adults forget that.”

As he began to create a 192,000-gallon chocolate lake to engulf character Augustus Gloop, and training 40 squirrels to pounce upon Veruca Salt, Burton said the new film would feature “a sort of foreboding”.

“Very sinister things are very much a part of childhood,” he said.

What do you do when your kid is a brat? If you're Wonka, you incinerate them.

Yeah, ironic that–considering that the original movie was 100 times LESS sappy and LESS goofy than Burton’s adaptation. In fact, although the first film did struggle with “sappiness,” it ALWAYS was tempered by a healthy creepiness factor–a very black (macabre at times) humor. 

CHOPPAH’s papa was the manager of a movie theater when the original Wonka was released, and he occasionally relays the story of numerous little brats leaving in the middle of the film, crying hysterically in terror at the fate of some of the less pleasant children.


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  1. garybuseys_incisors says:

    Great review. I enjoyed the original, didn’t like Burton’s, though have never read the book.

    Burton hasn’t made a good movie in a long time, IMO. Big Fish was pretty good, but not excellent. The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my favorites, though that was way more Henry Selick than Tim Burton.

  2. thechoppah says:

    Thanks. The book is terrific, though it’s decidedly a children’s book.

    And I’m with you, G. SWEENEY TODD was pretty good, though. I haven’t LOVED a Burton film since EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (not including THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS).

  3. Benson says:

    Yeah. Good shit, man. Pretty prolific today. Rock on, Chopsie.

  4. Chopped Dick says:

    ERrr….why is Choppah reviewing movies from 3 fucking years ago that anyone with dick larger than 3 inches or over the age of 12 never gave a fuck about.? Jesus man are you really that dry of ideas or contacts..

    CHOPPAH NEWS FLASH : look at how burton burton made tim burton and the burton chocolate factory!! look everyone..LOOK..because no one got it the first time around..

    er..3 years ago..

    • Melange a Trois says:

      I don’t know….maybe because ol’ Chop WANTS to write about it NOW?

      Why would someone whose vagina is continually hurt by a blog keep returning to said blog? That seems as valid a concern as your own.

  5. thechoppah says:

    Yeahr! The return of my very own troll! Keep em coming, Dickie-pie!I guess people should write only about new shit, huh?

    This post is confirmation that Chopped Dick is, or at least has the mental acuity of an easily distracted tween girl.

    Don’t worry, Dickie, I’ll get my writeup of the next Twilight movie up as fast as I can.


    And I’m not trying to keep up with the latest movie news. You’re right. I don’t have many inside Hollywood sources, and–in any case–I don’t have the ingratiating, dick sucking talents of a Harry Knowles or a “Mr. Beaks.” But the name of my blog would suggests “movie news”. Need to change that ASAP. This blog is becoming something else.

    So… I’ll post articles–related to film or not–that come to mind or seem relevant to me. Saw Burton’s film not long ago and felt moved to comment on it. Just like I thought I’d comment on a couple of terrific docs I recently saw and a 150 year old book I read recently. And–oh yeah–I might occasionally mention my favorite adult entertainers.

    But please keep returning, Chopped Dick. It’s pretty sweet to have my very own troll! Keeps me honest and humble.

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