Willy Wonka/Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Book vs Movies Review

written by Laura J.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (1964)

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory directed by Mel Stuart (1971)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory directed by Tim Burton (2005)

I did a video for Matilda by Roald Dahl last year, making this my second Roald Dahl book I have a book vs movie for!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is of course about a boy from a poor family who finds a golden ticket which gives him admission into the secretive, magical Willy Wonka chocolate factory-an experience that will change his life forever.

I usually start out with spoiler free reviews for the book and movie, but this one is so well known I am not going to worry about that. There will simply be spoilers from the start today! I also have found memories of this book and both movies, even the 2005 movie which I saw as a teenager and liked. Even though, admittedly, the ’05 movie is kind of forgettable in some ways, I would still recommend all three of these.

Charlie Bucket

In all versions we have Charlie, his mother, and his four grandparents who stay in bed. In the book and 2005 movie we also see his dad who works at a toothpaste factory, but in the ’71 movie it is said that his dad passed away. In both, Charlie’s dad gets laid off because a robot is brought in which can do his job. In the end of the 2005 movie he gets a job again, fixing the machine that replaced him.

In all versions, Charlie’s birthday is coming up and every year for his birthday he gets one Wonka bar which he savors over the course of the following days, even weeks. When the announcement is made about the golden tickets, his birthday is coming up with means his single bar will be his chance to find a ticket. In the ’71 movie he opens the bar and says the ticket is in there, only to reveal he was joking. We also have a scene in the ’71 movie when another kid has found a ticket and he goes to see his mom at works and tells her that another one has been found. He then says that if she is wondering who will be the next to find one, she can be sure it won’t be him.

In all versions, Grandpa Joe secretly tells Charlies that he has money saved away and has Charlies use it to buy a Wonka bar, however this one also doesn’t have a ticket. In the ’71 movie Charlie says that he bets the ticket makes the chocolate taste terrible. Which is a very enduring scene. In the ’71 movie though, the money was for his tobacco which like, they are super poor! Why is he still continuing his tobacco habit??

In all versions the fifth ticket is said to be found by an adult, however it is soon revealed that the person had forged it. After this, Charlies finds money on the ground and goes to buy a Wonka bar. He scarfs down the first one, then gives in and buys another. In the movies it is the second bar that has the ticket, but in the book, he buys like three or four bars, and it is the last one that has the ticket. I did like that Dahl has Charlie open quite a few bars before finding a ticket. It makes it seem more believable.

In the book and ’05 movie, he opens the bar in the candy shop and people offer him money for it. But the shop owner tells them to get away and that he needs to run straight home with the ticket. In the 2005 movie, he gets home and tells them they need to sell the ticket, because they need the money more than they need chocolate (each ticket finder will be getting a lifetime supply of chocolate). We then have a great scene with Grandpa George where he tells Charlie that the world is full of money, and only a dummy would trade that ticket for something as common as money. This scene is exclusive to the ’05 movie.

In the ’71 movie he opens the bar outside and it is the newspaper guy he works for that gets him out of the crows and tells him to run home.

In the ’71 movie is is a bigger deal to get Grandpa Joe out of bed so he can go with Charlie and he takes slow careful steps. In the book and ’05 movie, once Grandpa Joe sees the ticket, he literally hops right out of bed with no issues because he is so excited.

The 5 children

Even though I really like this book, Dahl is kind of annoying with how he uses this book to show his distaste for things the younger generations were enjoying at the time such as chewing gum and watching tv. I don’t like when older people hate on the hobbies of the young, because guess what, when that old person was a kid, there was something they were doing that the older generation of that time had looked down on. I’m all for spoiled brats being taught lessons, but the songs for Mike and Violet were literally just hating on gum chewing and how tv is terrible.

Regardless, we have the same five kids in all versions and the bad kids kind of represent different “deadly sins”. I don’t think this was intential, because if it was he probably would have had more children as to have all seven, as it is, the four bad kids can be seen to represent one of the “sins”. Charlie Bucket of course dosne’t count since he is well behaved; Violet is rude and chews gum (pride because she is obsessed with breaking records and being better than others); Mike watches tv all day long and that is all he cares about (sloth I guess with him since all he does is sit in front of the tv), Veruca is a spoiled, entitled brat (envy, wanting everything she sees); and Augustus has an insatiable appetite (gluttony).

With the new movie, I know they wanted it to be faithful to the book but I wish they would have used this opportunity to change the story to fit better with kids of the time. They do this to some extent with Mike being into video games instead of tv, and Violet is a gum chewer but she is also just into competitive things on a whole. But they could have really just changed all of these kids’ stories and I wish they would have.

Something that is exclusive to the ’71 movie, is that when each child finds a ticket, including Charlie, a guy is there and tells them that if they get a gobstopper from Wonka, and tell him everything about the factory, he will make them rich. People have theorized that Wonka knew where the tickets where going. In the end of the movie, we find out this was a test and the guy actually worked for Wonka. But the guy just happens to be in these different cities all over the world once someone has found the ticket. Either the movie makers didn’t really think about the logistics of this, or Wonka knew where each ticket was being sent and he was intentional with who won. In the book and ’05 movie, we hear about the candy rivals and how they tried to steal Wonka’s recipes, which is why he closed his factory doors. However, there is no guy trying to get the kids to give away Wonka’s secrets.

Willy Wonka

Funny enough, I don’t think Depp or Wilder gives an accurate portal of Wonka. Wilder’s version is a bit too witty and sarcastic and is often quoting literature. He also is clearing just messing with the people a lot of the time. Whereas Depp’s Wonka is very socially awkward and then we have his added childhood backstory. A scene I loved in the book though, that is also in the 2005 movie is when they first get in the boat on the chocolate river and we read, “Suddenly, Mr. Wonka, who was sitting on Charlie’s other side, reached down into the bottom of the boat, picked  up a large mug, dipped it into the river, filled it with chocolate, and handed it to Charlie. “Drink this,” he said.  “It’ll do you good! You looked starved to death!” Then Mr. Wonka filled a second mug and gave it to Grandpa  Joe. “You, too,” he said. “You look like a skeleton! What’s the matter? Hasn’t there been anything to eat in your  house lately?” “Not much,” said Grandpa Joe.”

Wilder’s Wonka gets sentimental in the very end, but it is almost jarring because throughout the whole movie he hadn’t been like that at all. Whereas in that part I just quoted, in the book we saw that softer side early on.

Also in the book Wonka is freaking out when kids are not listening to him. When Augustus is drinking from the river the ’71 movie has him yelling for him to stop and running over, but from there he is very sarcastic like when he says the line, “Help. Police. Murder.” This line is in the book but is it actually Mrs. Gloop yelling it because she is frantic about her son. Wonka also finds it kind of funny in the book, and I just want to read an exchange between him and Mrs. Gloop. This is in the movies, the ’05 movie for sure, and I’m pretty sure this conversation is in the ’71 movie too but I am still going to read it from the book. So after Augustus has been sucked into a pipe Mrs. Gloop says,

“He’ll be made into marshmallows in five seconds!”

“Impossible!” cried Mr. Wonka. “Unthinkable! Inconceivable! Absurd! He could never be made into marshmallows!”

“And why not, may I ask?” shouted Mrs. Gloop.

“Because that pipe doesn’t go to the Marshmallow Room!” Mr. Wonka answered. “It doesn’t go anywhere near it! That pipe—the one Augustus went up—happens to lead directly to the room where I make a most delicious kind of strawberry-flavored chocolate-coated fudge. . . .”

“Then he’ll be made into strawberryflavored chocolate-coated fudge!” screamed Mrs. Gloop. “My poor Augustus! They’ll be selling him by the pound all over the country tomorrow morning!”

“Quite right,” said Mr. Gloop.

“I know I’m right,” said Mrs. Gloop.

“It’s beyond a joke,” said Mr. Gloop.

“Mr. Wonka doesn’t seem to think so!” cried Mrs. Gloop. “Just look at him! He’s laughing his head off! How dare you laugh like that when my boy’s just gone up the pipe! You monster!” she shrieked, pointing her umbrella at Mr. Wonka as though she were going to run him through. “You think it’s a joke, do you? You think that sucking my boy up into your Fudge Room like that is just one great big colossal joke?”

“He’ll be perfectly safe,” said Mr. Wonka, giggling slightly.

“He’ll be chocolate fudge!” shrieked Mrs. Gloop. “Never!” cried Mr. Wonka. “Of course he will!” shrieked Mrs. Gloop.

“I wouldn’t allow it!” cried Mr. Wonka.

“And why not?” shrieked Mrs. Gloop.

“Because the taste would be terrible,” said Mr. Wonka. “Just imagine it! Augustus-flavored chocolate-coated Gloop! No one would buy it.”

So, he won’t allow that to happen to Augustus not because he is concerned for the boy’s life, but rather because it would taste terrible. These lines are delivered in a sarcastic way in the ’71 movie, where in the ’05 movie Wonka seems more socially awkward and just says things as he sees them but not with snide intent. And as said, in the ’71 movie Wonka likes to screw with them, whereas in the book and the ’05 movie, he is just being himself and is almost oblivious.

(I know the way I am talking about Gene Wilder’s portrayal makes it sound like I didn’t like him, but I did! He just played the character differently from the book in my opinion.)

Their punishment

Each bad child is led to their downfall due to whatever their bad trait was. Veruca was the most annoying of the bunch in my opinion, yet she has it the best in the end because she simply gets dirty from being pushed down a trash chute. The way she goes is the only one that is changed because in the book and 2005 movie, Wonka has a room of squirrels who are checking for good and bad nuts. She wants one of them and when she walks over to pick one up, they jump on her, determine she is a bad nut, and she is tossed down the trash chute. Her parents are also pushed in. In the 1971 movie, it is a room of geese that lay chocolate eggs and some eggs are good and some are bad. She stands on the scale that determines if an egg is good or bad, she is determines to be bad, and is dropped down the chute.

Mike gets stretched out crazy long, after turning himself mini, and arguably has it the worst in the end. Violet is blue which would be weird, but she is also very bendy which is kind of cool. Augustus has become thinner due to being pushed through the tube. In the book and 2005 movie we see them leaving the factory in their new forms, and see they have a truckload of chocolate going with them because each ticket winner was guaranteed a lifetime supply of chocolate.

In the ’71 movie before they go into the factory, Wonka has them sign a contract. This is exclusive to this movie and in the end, he tells  Charlie in the end that none of them get the lifetime supply of chocolate because they each disobeyed the rules.

In the book and 2005 movie, the golden ticket also states that one child will win an even bigger prize on top of the chocolate but doesn’t state what that is. In the ’71 movie I don’t think there was any talk of a very special prize.

Fizzy lifting drink

Speaking of disobeying the rules, even though Charlie is the last one standing, in the ’71 movie he still isn’t going to get the lifetime supply of chocolate because when Wonka showed them the room with the fizzy lifting drink, he and Grandpa Joe stayed behind and tried some even though Wonka said no one should drink it. They are able to get down and rejoin the group, but they still broke the rules.

Fizzy lifting drink is talked about in the book, but Charlie and Grandpa Joe do not try it and in the book and 2005 movie they are well behaved the whole time.

However, even though Wonka is initially angry at the Bucket’s and tells them they lose, because Charlie returns the gobstopper (which the spy had wanted), that is how Charlie wins ultimately wins Wonka’s approval.

Having the fake spy be a test in this movie was fine, but I didn’t like that they had Charlie and Grandpa Joe get into the fizzy lifting drink.

Charlie wins the factory

In the book and 2005 movie, once Mike is taken away and Charlie is the last one left, Wonka excitedly shakes his hand and tells him he has won. In the ’71 movie, as said, it is after Charlie returns the gobstopper. But in all versions, Wonka takes them to the glass elevator and presses the button that says up and out. The elevator crashes through the factory ceiling, and Wonka tells Charlie that he is going to be his apprentice and one day take of the factory. In the book they go to the bucket house because Charlie wants to have his family join him in the factory. They shove the grandparent’s bed into the elevator, the others get in, and then they go back to live at the Wonka factory. The ’71 movie ends with them in the elevator still, but when Charlies hears he is going to be Wonka’s apprentice he asks if his family can come with him and Wonka says yes.

2005 ending

In the 2005 movie, when Charlie asks if his family can come with him, Wonka says no. Saying parents just boss you around and tell you what to do and they would be a hinderance. Charlies says in that case, he won’t go because his family is more valuable. Wonka leaves feeling confused.

We had been seeing through flashbacks that Wonka’s dad was a dentist who hated candy and said, “Candy is a waste of time”, and didn’t want Willy getting into the chocolate business. Willy leaves though and hasn’t seen his dad since.

Wonka later goes to see Charlie and the two of them go to see Wonka’s dad in order to reconcile. Wonka see’s that his father had loved him and he has cut out all newspaper clippings about Willy through the years. After this reconciliation, Wonka agrees to let Charlies family live in the factory as well.

This backstory is not in the book, but I read that Tim Burton had braces like Willy Wonka’s when Burton was a kid, and he had a falling out with his mother. Later in life he reconnected with his mom, and she had cut out all of the clippings documenting Burton’s success. This is another time a director has changed the source material, in order to incorporate part of his own life story-something I mentioned Spielberg doing with Catch Me If You Can. It reminds me of the Oscar Wilde quote, “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.” A quote I find very beautiful and true.

Movie vs Movie

Between the two movies, the 2005 version follows the book more closely with the exception being Wonka’s backstory. Nonetheless, I prefer the ’71 movie. While reading the book I never imagined anything from the 2005 movie and just kept thinking of the ’71 movie. There are certain scenes that I just totally forget from the new movie, because the older movie was so much more memorable, it overrode memories of the new movie.

The older movie is a musical and the songs are fine with the exception of Pure Imagination which is just such an incredible song! I love the way Wilder sings it too, he doesn’t have the best voice in the world, but he performs the song wonderfully. The older movie also has the infamous boat ride scene with weird images playing on the tunnel walls. Wonka also starts to sing a song about not knowing where they are going. Funny, enough, this is the only song from the movie that comes straight from the book! The oopma loompas sing a sing in the book each time a kid leaves, but the lyrics aren’t the same in the movie. But the actors didn’t know Wilder was going to sing that, and their confused, unsettled reactions were real.

The ’71 movie also has so many scenes in the first half showing what a big deal these golden tickets were all over the world. These were all so hilarious! We have the guy in the therapist’s office, the woman whose husband is being held for ransom, the guy with a computer that will tell you where the tickets are, and an auction for an unopened box of Wonka bars. None of this was in the book, but I loved it. We also have Charlie’s teacher who is pretty funny, but he isn’t in the book either.

The 2005 movie includes the story of the oompa loompas which is the same in the book, as well as the story of the prince who wanted a castle made of chocolate.

Book vs movie

Even though the 2005 movie was more faithful, since I prefer the ’71 version, that is the one that I will have go head-to-head with the book.

As said, this movie makes some changes but none are changes that alter the message of the story. It is such a magical, funny, entertaining movie and it still holds up after all these years. There also isn’t really any CGI, whereas the 2005 movie has too much CGI. In the ’71 movie, it feels real because it was real. By the way, the cup Wonka eats after his song was made of wax! Good on Wilder to commit and keep chewing till the take was over.

I would recommend this book to your kids, but in the end, I am going to say the movie wins!

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl actually was not happy with this movie. How many times have I done a book vs movie where the movie has become so iconic and famous, yet the author hated it. I have never written a book, let alone had a book be adapted but I get tired of authors being so offended by how their book was changed. Like if they movie makes big changes, I get it but come one! This is a great adaptation and it doesn’t alter the messages of the book so I think Dahl could have calmed down. It is said that he never warmed up to the film. IMdB says, “Funnily enough, behind-the-scenes footage on the DVD shows [Dahl] looking happy while visiting the set, and he even attended the premiere. Julie Dawn Cole [who played Veruca] commenting in 2011 on these events, remembers him as being a large, scary man.”

Even though he writes kids’ books, I will say this book doesn’t seem like it was written by someone who likes kids. He sounds like he is annoyed by kids, and as I said early, was just very disapproving of the younger generation. We have Charlie who is a good kids and lives happily ever after, and I guess Dahl thinks the only way a child can be decent is if they grow up in poverty or face some other huge disadvantage like being abused or something (as is the case in some of his other books).

I wanted to share a excerpt from an article I read about Dahl.

“[Patricia Neal] describes her admiration for Dahl’s determined nature, and his resourceful intellect, but it is clear through her writing that she thought Dahl was a truly rude, arrogant, and disloyal husband who regularly belittled her during their marriage. This sentiment seemed to be shared by her family, and she describes how her “mother thought he was the rudest thing alive”.

Dahl’s controlling and self-contained nature is reconfirmed by his second daughter, Tessa Dahl…in her debut novel, Working for Love, which was released in 1989. Tessa’s “semi-autobiographical” book describes her childhood bitterness after all the family tragedies and her desperate longing for love. In a 2012 interview she declared that “daddy gave joy to millions of children. But I was dying inside” – accusing him of selfishness and egocentric behaviour.”

Gambling-may the best dream win

Before I close, I wanted to talk about how in the ’71 movie Charlie and his family say how he deserves to find a ticket more than anyone else because he wants it more and is therefore more deserving. First off, I’m sure there were millions of other kids throughout the world who wanted it just as much as Charlie. But this idea, that because you feel you want it more than anyone you know, or you think you need it more, means you therefore should win is such ridiculous thinking.

Back when I lived in California there was a billboard for the state lottery that said, “May the best dream win.” Which is such manipulative marketing. Of course, all marketing is manipulation. But the idea that someone desperate enough, or someone who feels they are more deserving, or even someone who has better plans and intentions with their potential winnings, thinking that karma will work in their favor and help them win is so messed up. Like no, it literally does not matter who you are or what your plans are if you win, or how badly you want it. That does not mean you are more likely to win. So, it bothered my slightly that seems to kind of be the message of the ’71 movie to some extent.

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