Book to Screen: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

unnamedThis was one of my favorite sixth grade units to do every year.  I always saved this for last, after our state testing as it was so much fun.  We watched both movies and read the book.  One of the things we did was to compare and contrast the book with the movies as well as the two movies.  We talked about why the director/screenwriter may have made the choices they made.

I’ll come right out and tell you the original movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka is my favorite by a long shot.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy the new movie but the old one is the one I love.

The tale of little Charlie Bucket, his poor family, and the eccentric candy maker Willy Wonka is a great tale of morality that is also a great deal of fun.  Kids love imagining what the chocolate room would look like, discussing what their favorite candy is or would be, talking about which child was worse.  

It’s always interesting to ask people which movie they prefer as well, and it seems almost down the line whichever movie they saw first is the one they prefer.  When talking with students the songs in the first movie often are a bit much for them.

There are great things about both movies.  The more recent Johnny Depp version does stay much closer to the book with the exception of Willy’s back story with his dentist father.  The first time I watched the movie I was a bit horrified that they added to the book that was so great to begin with but then again so did the first movie with all of the songs.  The more I thought about it the more I liked the story of Willy and his father (and I loved Christopher Lee).  It gives an added reason why Willy is looking for a child to take over his factory rather than an adult.

When comparing the actual performances I like Gene Wilder’s mysterious, slightly darker portrayal rather than Johnny Depp’s creepy MJ-esque portrayal.  I was glad that in the new movie Charlie is good throughout the whole movie, as I was always bothered by the fizzy lifting drink in the first movie.

All in all, great book and two really good adaptations.  Which is your favorite?

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