Why ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ is better than ‘Willy Wonka’

Since we have been stuck at home, most of us have been watching movies. I watched a few new movies, like Pixar’s “Onward” and Netflix’s “The Half Of It,” and also viewed some of my childhood favorites that I have been too busy to watch recently. I signed into Disney+ and watched “Mulan” and “Tangled,” but still felt unfulfilled in my dose of weekly nostalgia. I decided to watch one of my favorite movies: 2005’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” While I was watching, my parents and sisters kept telling me the 1971 version, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” is better. I strongly disagree with that conviction and have significant evidence to back me up.

Most importantly, in my opinion, the newer version keeps the plot of Roald Dahl’s classic book intact. While the older version changed the name, replacing Charlie with Willy Wonka, the 2005 film returned to the title imagined by Dahl. Tim Burton’s version of the classic movie features Veruca Salt falling down a garbage chute after being deemed a “bad nut” by a scurry of intelligent squirrels, while in the 1971 flick, she is seeking a golden goose instead of a squirrel. 

“Willy Wonka” also features a scene where Charlie and Grandpa Joe sample new Fizzy Lifting Drinks, even though Mr. Wonka explicitly tells them not to. One of the most important pieces of Charlie’s character is his morality, something that is not present in the other children, and I believe the addition of a scene that abandons his integrity is out of place in the film. Dahl was a visionary who carefully crafted his characters, and Charlie was not an exception. Throughout the book, Charlie is depicted as an honest child who fails to give into his vices, which is what separates him from the other children. By disregarding that and showing Charlie as a kid who is just as guilty as the others, the 1971 version makes the message of the novel much less powerful.

Another spectacular element of the 2005 version is the casting. While Gene Wilder’s performance in “Willy Wonka” was amazing, something about Johnny Depp’s Wonka incomparably captivates me. Depp’s characterization of the classic character is unique and bizarre in the best possible way. Freddie Highmore as Charlie was praised by critics, and for good reason because his vulnerable, yet strong and intelligent nature connects with the viewers extremely successfully. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” also stars accomplished actresses AnnaSophia Robb as Violet Beauregarde and Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Bucket, Charlie’s mom. If you are searching for a movie devoid of starpower, look past “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” because it is full of acclaimed actors from the beginning to end.

My favorite thing about Burton’s 2005 hit is the strangeness. When I was younger, I would watch the movie nearly everyday after school, captivated by something I had never before seen on my television. Some viewers find the film too peculiar and Depp’s portrayal of Wonka too eccentric, but the oddities are what I love most about the movie. If you honestly believe 1971’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” supersedes “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” then perhaps you need to take a second look at the movie which I consider to be one of the most enthralling and alluring films in the history of Hollywood.

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