Twice a day, on his way to and from school, little Charlie Bucket had to walk right past the gates of the factory. And every time he went by he would begin to walk very, very slowly, and he would hold his nose high in the air and take long deep sniffs of the gorgeous chocolatey smell all around him. Oh, how he loved that smell! And oh, how he wished he could go inside the factory and see what it was like.
- Roald Dahl
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Acclaimed director Tim Burton brings his vividly imaginative style to the beloved Roald Dahl classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, about eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka (JOHNNY DEPP) and Charlie Bucket (FREDDIE HIGHMORE), a good-hearted boy from a poor family who lives in the shadow of Wonka's extraordinary factory.
Most nights in the Bucket home, dinner is a watered-down bowl of cabbage soup, which young Charlie gladly shares with his mother (HELENA BONHAM CARTER) and father (NOAH TAYLOR) and both pairs of grandparents. Theirs is a tiny, tumbledown, drafty old house but it is filled with love. Every night, the last thing Charlie sees from his window is the great factory, and he drifts off to sleep dreaming about what might be inside.
For nearly fifteen years, no one has seen a single worker going in or coming out of the factory, or caught a glimpse of Willy Wonka himself, yet, mysteriously, great quantities of chocolate are still being made and shipped to shops all over the world.
One day Willy Wonka makes a momentous announcement. He will open his famous factory and reveal "all of its secrets and magic" to five lucky children who find golden tickets hidden inside five randomly selected Wonka chocolate bars.
Nothing would make Charlie's family happier than to see him win but the odds are very much against him as they can only afford to buy one chocolate bar a year, for his birthday.
Indeed, one by one, news breaks around the world about the children finding golden tickets and Charlie's hope grows dimmer. First there is gluttonous Augustus Gloop, who thinks of nothing but stuffing sweets into his mouth all day, followed by spoiled Veruca Salt, who throws fits if her father doesn't buy her everything she wants. Next comes Violet Beauregarde, a champion gum chewer who cares only for the trophies in her display case, and finally surly Mike Teavee, who's always showing off how much smarter he is than everyone else.
But then, something wonderful happens. Charlie finds some money on the snowy street and takes it to the nearest store for a Wonka Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight, thinking only of how hungry he is and how good it will taste. There, under the wrapper is a flash of gold. It's the last ticket. Charlie is going to the factory! His Grandpa Joe (DAVID KELLY) is so excited by the news that he springs out of bed as if suddenly years younger, remembering a happier time when he used to work in the factory, before Willy Wonka closed its gates to the town forever. The family decides that Grandpa Joe should be the one to accompany Charlie on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Once inside, Charlie is dazzled by one amazing sight after another. Wondrous gleaming contraptions of Wonka's own invention churn, pop and whistle, producing ever new and different edible delights. Crews of merry Oompa-Loompas mine mountains of fudge beside a frothy chocolate waterfall or ride a translucent, spun-sugar, dragon-headed boat down a chocolate river past crops of twisted candy cane trees and edible mint-sugar grass. Marshmallow cherry creams grow on shrubs, ripe and sweet. Elsewhere, a hundred trained squirrels on a hundred tiny stools shell nuts for chocolate bars faster than any machine and Wonka himself pilots an impossible glass elevator that rockets sideways, slantways and every which way you can think of through the vast and fantastic factory.
Almost as intriguing as his fanciful inventions is Willy Wonka himself, a gracious but most unconventional host. He thinks about almost nothing but candy - except, every once in a while, when he suddenly seems to be thinking about something that happened long ago, that he can't quite talk about. It's been said that Wonka hasn't stepped outside the factory for years. Who he truly is and why he has devoted his life to making sweets Charlie can only guess.
Meanwhile, the other children prove to be a rotten bunch, so consumed with themselves that they scarcely appreciate the wonder of Wonka's creations. One by one, their greedy, spoiled, mean-spirited or know-it-all personalities lead them into all kinds of trouble that force them off the tour before it's even finished.
When only little Charlie Bucket is left, Willy Wonka reveals the final secret, the absolute grandest prize of all: the keys to the factory itself. Long isolated from his own family, Wonka feels it is time to find an heir to his candy empire, someone he can trust to carry on with his life's work and so he devised this elaborate contest to select that one special child.
What he never expects is that his act of immeasurable generosity might bring him an even more valuable gift in return.
Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, a Zanuck Company / Plan B Production of a Tim Burton Film: Johnny Depp stars in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, based on the book by Roald Dahl, and also starring Freddie Highmore, David Kelly, Helena Bonham Carter, Noah Taylor, Missi Pyle, James Fox, with Deep Roy and Christopher Lee. Directed by Tim Burton from a screenplay by John August, the film is produced by Brad Grey and Richard D. Zanuck. Patrick McCormick, Felicity Dahl, Michael Siegel, Graham Burke and Bruce Berman executive produce.
Director of photography is Philippe Rousselot, A.F.C./A.S.C. Production designed by Alex McDowell. Edited by Chris Lebenzon, A.C.E. Costume designer is Gabriella Pescucci. Music by Danny Elfman. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will be released worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.
Cast as the four children who join Charlie on the factory tour are AnnaSophia Robb as Violet Beauregarde, Jordan Fry as Mike Teavee, Julia Winter as Veruca Salt and Philip Wiegratz as Augustus Gloop. Like their fictional counterparts who vie for a Golden Ticket to Wonka's factory in a global contest, the four talented young actors of varying backgrounds and experience were chosen from an international pool.
We're not saying they're bad, these four Golden Ticket winners, but as Zanuck diplomatically puts it, "they're not the kind of children you'd be proud to call your own."
Violet Beauregarde is a ferociously competitive and self-assured little hellion who boasts of a roomful of trophies back home and is currently working on the world's record for non-stop gum-chewing. Ignoring Wonka's warning, she seizes a piece of experimental chewing gum with a blueberry flavor from the Inventing Room and within moments is turned blue and blows up like a giant blueberry-hued beach ball and must be removed to the Juicing Room. Violet is played by 11-year-old American AnnaSophia Robb, who recently starred in Wayne Wang's family feature Because of Winn-Dixie and The WB Network's 2004 television movie Samantha: An American Girl Holiday.
Robb says her Charlie experience "made me feel like a little part of history because everyone loves the book so much. Being on set was like a fantasy too, having a rooms full of candy that you get to play in and eat. Really cool." Her preparation for the role included martial arts training with teacher and stunt professional Eunice Huthart, for an introductory scene in which Violet is seen mercilessly knocking down her rivals in a karate competition.
Know-it-all video game addict Mike Teavee, played by 12-year-old American Jordan Fry, scoffs rudely at another of Wonka's inventions, an attempt to transport a chocolate bar via electromagnetic waves through a television screen. Teavee interrupts the experiment by inserting himself into the middle of it with some very unexpected results.
Newcomer Fry happily found himself flying across the set on wires for the sequence. "The hardest part," declares stunt coordinator Jim Dowdall, "was keeping him from laughing in sheer delight at the experience because in the scene he's supposed to appear rather frightened and unsettled."
Gluttonous Augustus Gloop is unable to resist the lure of the factory's luscious chocolate river and breaks from the tour to get taste of it, despite cautions from his mother and Wonka. He promptly falls in, mouth-first, and is sucked up through an intake pipe that transports the chocolate to other parts of the factory. Gloop marks the professional acting debut of 12-year-old German-born Philip Wiegratz, who wore a fitted prosthetic body suit and calves for the role of the greedy youngster. Even more of a challenge, says Dowdall, was that "Philip couldn't swim when he came to us. We had to get into our wetsuits and show him how to do it, but he learned very quickly, even with the encumbrance of all that padding."
Meanwhile, hopelessly spoiled Veruca Salt has problems of her own. Upon seeing Wonka's squirrels at work in the nut room she demands to have one and storms the assembly line. The squirrels examine her as they evaluate all nuts, determine she is a bad nut and dispatch her down the garbage chute with the other rejects. Veruca is played by 12-year-old Londoner Julia Winter, a member of the children's drama group Allsorts Drama, in her professional acting debut.
"I couldn't get the hang of lying on the floor fighting off the squirrels so Tim lay down on the floor next to me and demonstrated," Winter offers. "There we were, both of us, kicking our legs and screaming at the top of our lungs, swatting away imaginary squirrels. It was great fun and we must have looked absolutely ridiculous."
The parents of these beastly children represent the worst imaginable child-rearing skills, hilariously evident as they chaperone their horrible little brats through the factory.
Missi Pyle (Big Fish, Dodgeball, Bringing Down the House) as Mrs. Beauregarde appears more manager and coach than mother to young Violet, an obnoxious girl bent on winning every conceivable prize and contest in the world. "Mrs. Beauregarde wants her daughter to have everything she didn't," says Pyle. "A self-proclaimed winner, she has instilled in Violet her own competitive spirit to the exclusion of any other thought. The two of them arrive at the factory - in matching outfits, of course - fully expecting to go home with the grand prize," whatever it may be.
Veteran actor of both film and television, BAFTA Award nominee James Fox (A Passage to India) stars as the beleaguered Mr. Salt, father to the colossally spoiled Veruca, a girl with no thought for anyone or anything but herself. "He's very anxious that his daughter have everything she wants," says Fox, who slyly describes Veruca Salt as "lovable, adorable, sweet and talented, the perfect child," before adding, "as long as her father meets her demands. Immediately. If he doesn't, she'll scream until he does."
Fox believes the tour ultimately proves beneficial for all the children. The lessons meted out to the rude, selfish and inconsiderate are quite valuable, "and Wonka serves somewhat as a judge. He discerns the children's motives and their characters and he wants to change and correct them. He wants to make them better people."
Adam Godley (Love Actually, Around the World in 80 Days) as Mr. Teavee and Franziska Troegner (nominated for the German Film Award in her native country for 2001's Heidi M) as Mrs. Gloop fare no better. Mr. Teavee is sadly not immune to his son's sarcastic bullying and poor Mrs. Gloop seems not only unable, but uninterested in controlling Augustus' rampant gorging.
About Johnny Depp: www.girl.com.au/johnny-depp-willy-wonka.htm
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