Charlie and the chocolate factory. A fantastic children’s book by a fantasic storyteller whose original text version I finally have a chance to read cover to cover (thanks in part to the pandemic), after seeing the two major studios film adaptations. The 1971 film with gene wilder I had seen from time to time on reruns every few years on TV. I didn’t dig deep about the moral lessons going on through the story but had found it nevertheless interesting with flamboyant costumes and songs. How could a kid NOT like chocolates?
Only in my adulthood did I learn that Roald Dahl had written many popular children’s books and the 2nd film adaptation with the wacky and dark interpretation of Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka resuscitated my curiosity of the oeuvre.
In the older days before politial correctness and extreme poverty-prosperity dichotomy, the five main characters are vividly sketched. The greedy boy who eats too much chocolate all the time, the competitive gum-chewing girl, the have-it-all spoiled lit’l princess, the obsessed TV watcher and the humble protagonist fit interestingly well into non-western cultures’ DOs and DONTs handbooks for kids pretty well. Think 弟子規。 It was a pleasure to read the original lines and compared Depp’s big screen version of Willy Wonka – eccentric, bitchy, and maybe even queerness (in modern day academia gobbledygook). The Oompa-Loompas numbers’ rhyming, merciless lyrics are so hilarious that unless you are the presumed dentist father of Willy Wonka, you are bound to love Charlie and the chocolate factory, adults or kids alike.