Showdown: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory vs Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a classic story that is beloved by millions. The story of a poor boy who just happens to find a ticket to a golden opportunity at the last possible second is a theme that resonates with everyone. It is the dream of most children to uncover something magical in their own lives. Since the story was written in 1964, there have been two renditions of this book.
Plot: The plot in this version is quite close to the book. Part of that, I think, is due to author Ronald Dahl actually working on the screenplay for this movie. This version turned the story into a musical, which I usually hate, but I think it turned out well for this particular story.
Pacing: I have to say, the pacing in this version of the movie is slow. I think it takes over half of the movie before they even get to the factory. The total run time of this movie was about 100 minutes, but it actually seemed much longer. Parts of the story do drag.
Feel: This movie is actually one of my favorites of all time. It has a hidden humor that continues to surprise. Gene Wilder makes the perfect Wonka, I think. It’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the part as well as he does. All of the minor details in this version are perfect, from the expressions that people make to the aside comments that are surprising and hilarious. I think this movie captures the feeling of the book perfectly.
Plot: The trouble with this version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is who was involved in the production of the film. This version is a Tim Burton film, and it shows. His taste seeps into every aspect of the story. In fact, he changes the entire character of Wonka, making him kind of a weak, lonely character. The ending is also entirely different. Rather than telling Charlie that he doesn’t win because of the mistake he made along the tour, he says Charlie is the winner but cannot take his family with him. This Wonka had some sort of crazy dentist father that forbade him from eating candy, which made Wonka want to pursue his dreams all the more. Charlie reunites the two so that the Wonka factory can become a family business.
Pacing: This version did have better pacing. Newer movies usually do. There were fewer songs, but there was still a musical element.
Feel: This version had a dark feel. It felt typically Tim Burton to me. I didn’t like Johnny Depp as Wonka, because he was dark, plus he was lacking whatever quality that made Gene Wilder perfect for the part. Johnny Depp was simply, Johnny Depp. Not Willy Wonka.
I like the story and the 1971 version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I think children should read the book, but if you’re going to watch a movie version, skip 2005.