Monday, July 18, 2005

First Response: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

It's not a comic-related post, but it serves well as a springboard for news of a different sort.

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is not a remake of the Gene Wilder film. Unlike 1971's "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," Burton's new film follows the story and characters of Roald Dahl's 1964 novel almost religiously, even using Dahl's original Oompa Loompa song lyrics (no 'doopity-do' in this film).

The boat ride through the tunnel isn't nearly as creepy as it was with Wilder. Burton makes up for it by making the rest of the movie much, much creepier, something the property deserved.

I didn't like the changes made to the ending so much, mainly because it hurts my general interpretation of Willy Wonka as a stand-in for Satan, and the whole of the story as a children's version of Dante. Ddon't believe me? I've got a term paper in the works on this one, but keep this in mind when you see Charlie this summer:

Dante (Charlie) was led through his travels by the elder Virgil (Grandpa Joe). They entered Hell through a gate (the burning puppet show), and Hell proper was reached by a river (though not one made of chocolate). The third Circle of Hell was reserved for gluttons (Augustus Gloop), who laid face-down in the mud (fudge). The fourth was for the greedy (Veruca Salt), and those who indulge them (her father, who is the only parent punished). The fifth was for wrathful (overly-competitive Violet Beauregard), and the sixth was for violent offenders (Mike Teevee, fan of violent TV).

Notice too that Wonka is criticized throughout by the children, particularly Mike. Only Charlie, the one who displays faith in the magic and fantasy, survives and is rewarded. All the others are punished for their vices.

There's a lot more to Wonka than candy. See the movie, it's quite good.

Now, news: Jon Maxson and I have started up a new Blog based on the column we took over from the very talented Dan Finn for our college's newspaper, the Augustana Observer. The column and blog, Movies Schmovies, examines movies of various varieties. Mostly these are varieties of awful. Check it out, it's going to be a blast.

1 comment:

JM said...

This ought to horrify you...CONSERVATIVE COMICS!
Some good blog fodder there!