July 18, 2005

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I am a fan of the original movie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I've seen it about eight or ten times. I have a tape of it I recorded off of a movie channel preview in 1987. I've seen it in outdoor theaters, movie theaters and on my big screen at home. I love the Oompa-Loompa songs and I think Gene Wilder was a genius. So, of course, Saturday found me in a seat at the local theater where I watched Johnny Depp play Willy Wonka for Tim Burton's version of the book. I also happen to be a Johnny Depp fan, so I tried my best to keep an open mind with this movie, and in fact, the actors, with one exception, did not disappoint. I think they did a wonderful job playing their parts.
The movie had one horrible disappointment, however. The Oompa-Loompas failed to impress at all. The big singing, dancing numbers were interesting, yes. But, the words they were singing were impossible to hear. The modulation of the music was handled terribly, and the impact of the Oompa-Loompa's songs was destroyed by poor production. The original movie did this right. The original Oompa-Loompas were scary, comical, clownish and frightful, and had IMPACT on the audience. The production numbers Tim Burton envisioned were not clownish and frightful. They were clownish as perhaps children see clowns. They were not dark, evil clowns, but instead a funny little production number.
I don't blame the Oompa-Loompa actor (that may have saved Tim money, but it made it worse, really), but instead blame the production team who chose the effect they presented. I also blame Tim a bit, seeing as how he doesn't seem to really understand that clowns are supposed to be frightening to adults. There is a duality in their existence that he has severely missed. Overall, the movie just wasn't dark enough. It could have been, and all he needed to do was hire a bunch of little people, dress them up and make them sing in clown make-up.
My vote goes to the original.....all hail Gene Wilder.

No comments: