From Page to Stage or Screen: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Ronald Dahl

by Maricel Dragan

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is based on a book by British writer Ronald Dahl. The book was first published in 1964 and made it to the big screen in 1971 under the name “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. Then 30 years later in 2005 director Tim Burton re-adapted the story changing the title to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.

The story takes place somewhere in Britain, Willy Wonka is the owner of the town’s chocolate factory. Children and adults have been indulging in Wonka’s sweets for years. Yet, when he was at the top of his career he had to close the factory due to the tough competition.

Later at some point, he re-opens the factory and launches the successful business again. But, this time no-one could see the workers going into the factory and coming out. Everyone in the town grows curious about Wonka new plans.

 One morning the town wakes up with the news of a prize. The prize consists in the chance of spending a whole day in the chocolate factory.  Yet, only 5 children will be the lucky ones. So, every kid in town hurries to buy the famous chocolate bars, anxious to find the ticket that will take them to the factory.

Charlie couldn’t pay for a chocolate bar, and even though he couldn’t afford to buy any kind of sweet, he keeps his hopes high. One day, his parents give him a chocolate bar for his birthday, but he didn’t find the ticket. Luckily, he finds money on the streets to buy another chocolate bar, and to his surprise this time the ticket is inside. He runs to his house and tells his parents the great news. Still, he’s not sure of going into the factory as his parents are very poor and his considering selling the golden ticket and sharing the money with them.

Finally, his grandfather persuades him not to sell the ticket and go to the factory instead. Charlie goes the next day. Willy Wonka welcomes the children and take them into the building. They discover amongst other things a huge chocolate waterfall and the cute factory workers.

As they walk around the factory, the mischievous children can’t hold back their behaviour. One of them fall into a chocolate river while another eats an experiment and turns into a giant blueberry. At the end Charlie is the only one left, he’s the winner!

But Willy Wonka has weird plans, he wants to pass on his factory to the younger boy. The catch is to leave his parents behind and go to live in the factory. Charlie can’t accept the offer, and disappointed returns to his normal life.

Then, one day Charlie meets Willy Wonka who is struggling to sell his chocolates, he asks the child why he’s so loyal to his family. Charlie tells he loves his family and persuades Wonka to do the same. They both go to meet Willy Wonka’s father, Wonka hasn’t spoken with him for years.

They welcome each other, and Willy Wonka understands that the family will be always there. He happily returns to the factory, making the most amazing chocolates, but this time with a young assistant on his side.

The history leaves the reader with an important message to love your family and be humble. The book adaptation has made a big impact in the film industry, and even though is a children story the topic resonates with people of all ages. This is why the film was so successful. What’s more, the film respects the original story and makes it more dynamic.

I give the book and the adaptation 5 stars because is a thoughtful and inspiring story.

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