Monday, June 7, 2010

Don't Care How, I Want it Now

I've actually been trying to post this blog post for most of the day now. Blogger has decided that it didn't want to let me in. Not sure why. Perhaps it doesn't like my topic. Or maybe it just isn't happy that I'm been taking my weekends off from logging on. For those of you who are wondering I've been unplugging on my weekends for the last couple weeks. I don't read comics. I don't check email. I don't look at the news. And I certainly haven't been blogging. That will probably stay the same for the next couple of weekends if not permanently. I spend too much time online the rest of the week. Weekends are to recharge.
I sat down last night to do a Chocolate Factory marathon. I just finished reading Mel Stuart's Pure Imagination about the making of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and realized that it's been almost a year since I last watched the film. I'm completely mad for the 1971 version with Gene Wilder playing Willy Wonka. Pure Brilliance. So I figured if I was going to watch one version of Roald Dahl's immortal classic, then I might as well watch both. I own both of them. I enjoyed both for their very different takes on the story. They offer two very different Willy Wonka's which originally I was okay with. But I made a discovery last night. And it has more to do with the music than anything else.


Mel Stuart wrote in Pure Imagination that he didn't want to make the 1971 version into a musical. He didn't really want music. He felt that it would detract from the reality he was trying to create. After all very few of us randomly burst into song as we go about our daily lives. He relented after his producer convinced him that music would only enhance the film. And it has. I spent all yesterday singing "Pure Imagination", the wonderful song that Gene Wilder sings in the Chocolate Room. This morning I've been singing Veruca Salt's bratty anthem, "I Want it Now". And that's when I realized that there are no good songs from the new movie. In fact many of the Oompa Loompa songs made me want to fast forward through them. They are simply too over the top. In a film as flamboyant as Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that is saying a lot.

I will freely admit that I loved Johnny Depp's socially awkward (and slightly misanthropic) Willy Wonka and Burton cast Charlie perfectly. The visuals for Burton's film were incredible. I actually liked that over the top look. But nothing quite rivals the maniacal elegance of Gene Wilder in his top hat and purple coat. How one man could come off as suave and insane and sweet and devilish at the same time is beyond me. It was an incredible performance and I still claim Gene Wilder as the better Wonka. I liked the supporting cast for both films equally with the exception of the Oompa Loompas who hands down go to the 1971 cast, rather than the one guy who had to do the 2005 version. The 1971 visuals are dated but there is still a bit more charm there. The chocolate room in the 1971 version makes my mouth water. The 2005 version scares me a little bit.

I'm curious to see what the rest of you think. Have you seen the films? Which do you think was better? Who makes a better Wonka? I originally went into last night thinking I liked them equally. But this morning I woke up with a clear favorite. Now if only I could get this song out of my head.

10 comments:

Salt said...

I like the Gene Wilder one, too.

Speaking of Gene Wilder and movies from books, did you ever see The Little Prince (1974)? Gene Wilder is the Fox, very touching. The guy who plays the snake is a genius, too, but his name escapes me.

Cat B said...

I didn't even realize they had done a film version of The Little Prince. i loved the book. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation!!

Dan Cook said...

I haven't taken the time to see either film. Not really my bag.

But I wanted to post a comment and let you know that Blogger was giving me the same headaches as I tried to upload my column last night and again this morning.

You're not alone Cat!

Cat B said...

Thanks Dan. It was really frustrating. I could get to my dashboard but the moment I tried to open a new post I would get that error message. Grrrrr.

Salt said...

I was getting the error whenever I tried to post comments, which is why I have double comments on Dan's and Josh's blogs.

Emilie said...

Gene Wilder is the better Wonka and the 1971 Oompa Loompahs are 1000x better. The 2005 Oompa man just creeped me out. I did like the Burton movie a little better for its visual slickness but nothing beats the classic.

Cat B said...

He was a bit creepy wasn't he? I would agree that the Burton one was visually interesting as all his works are. It just didn't have the same feel for me. You're right. You can't beat a classic.

Keith said...

I'm a fan of Tim Burton, but his last few movies have done little for me. I was a kid when Gene Wilder's version came out, and it made an incredible impression on me. It was so WEIRD. I'm highly attracted to weird.

And Gene Wilder is amazing, right down to him shouting, "You lose! Good DAY, Sir!"

("Is it raining, is it snowing?")

Cat B said...

"Is a hurricane a blowing?" Such an odd and wonderful scene. I guess the actress that played Veruca Salt was worried at the end of that scene that Gene Wilder had actually gone insane. Such a genius performance. And he used a ton of great quotes and references I didn't even pick up on when I first watched it. Shakespeare, Ogden Nash, Oscar Wilde. Fun stuff.

I haven't seen Burton's newest. I know it will be visually appealing for me (I'm also drawn to weird). But it sounds like you weren't impressed with the film as a whole. I don't remember his one before it. I enjoy his films for their oddness. Quite an interesting director.

Keith said...

Alice is a fun little walk through some interesting visuals, and Johnny Depp is excellent as always, and Helena Bonham-Carter is REALLY good as the Red Queen. The story is a little too linear and doesn't have that fever-dream quality that the books have, which I don't think can ever be fully realized on film. There's something so delightfully mad in the books, and it's just intangible enough that no-one will ever be able to replicate it with an original story set in the same world.

Still, it was a fun movie, and the most fun I've had at a Burton movie in some time. Since Mars Attacks!, I've not been overly impressed with anything he's done. (Except for The Corpse Bride, which is quite different from his live-action stuff. Love that movie.)