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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - discussion guide

Author: Emily Russell

Keywords: Family, parenting, love, greed, parenting, poverty

Film title: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Director: Tim Burton
Screenplay: John August based on the story by Roald Dahl
Starring: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, David Kelly, Helena Bonham-Carter, Christopher Lee
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Cinema Release Date: 15 July 2005 (USA); 29 July 2005 (UK)
Certificate: PG

 

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Summary

Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore) doesn’t have much money but is a good-hearted cheerful boy. He lives with his parents Mr and Mrs Bucket (Noah Taylor and Helena Bonham-Carter) and his four grandparents (who all share one bed) in a tiny rickety house. Charlie dreams of what goes on inside the enormous chocolate factory which no one has been inside for years. It is owned by the reclusive Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) who invents the apparently impossible treats the factory produces.

One day, posters appear stating that inside five Wonka chocolate bars are five Golden Tickets. The five lucky children who find the tickets will be granted one day inside the chocolate factory. Excitement erupts around the world as children begin buying mountains of Wonka chocolate bars in the hope that they will find a Golden Ticket. The first is found by Augustus Gloop (Phillip Wiegratz), a fat greedy German boy; the second by Veruca Salt (Julie Winter), a spoiled British brat; the third by Violet Beauregarde (Annasophia Robb), a competitive gum-chewer; and the fourth by Mike Teavee (Jordan Fry), an obnoxious, clever computer-gamer. Charlie is convinced that he won’t find the last ticket as he only ever has one chocolate bar a year on his birthday. But when he finds money on the street and buys a bar, he is astonished to find that he has bought the last Golden Ticket.

So along with his Grandpa Joe (David Kelly), who used to work in the factory, and the four other children and their parents, Charlie enters the factory for a tour by Willy Wonka himself, and a day full of surprises.

 

Background

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is based on the 1964 classic children’s book of the same name by Roald Dahl and is not a remake of the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It has been wholeheartedly supported by the surviving Dahl family. There are significant differences between the two films; the 2005 version includes a back story concerning Willy Wonka’s father, the children’s appearances and characters have been modernised and the film is not a musical. Producers Brad Grey and Richard D Zanuck (Rules of Engagement, Road to Perdition, Big Fish) chose director Tim Burton (Corpse Bride, Big Fish, Sleepy Hollow, Edward Scissorhands) to direct it, and Burton hired screenwriter John August (who wrote Burton’s film Big Fish) to write the film. The musical score and songs were written by long-time Burton collaborator Danny Elfman who also sang all the Oompa-Loompa vocals.

Many male stars were rumoured to be taking the part of Willy Wonka including Marilyn Manson and Jim Carey. Burton chose long-time collaborator Johny Depp (The Libertine, Corpse Bride, Finding Neverland, Pirates of the Caribbean) to play Wonka. This is the fifth film they have worked on together.

For more information on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, go to the official site: chocolatefactorymovie.warnerbros.com

 

Questions for discussion

  1. Have you read the Roald Dahl book? How does it compare to the film? Do you prefer the book or the film? Why? Have you seen the 1971 film? How does that compare?

  2. What do the changes between the two films show about how culture has changed over that time?

  3. What are the key issues of this film?

  4. What are your first impressions of the ticket-winning children? Are they good or bad? What is it about them that makes them negative characters? Why/why not?

  5. Which of the children do you identify with the most? Why/? Are there any you don’t identify with? Why/Why not?

  6. What makes Charlie different to the other children? How is his character portrayed as a positive character? Is he still likeable? Why/why not?

  7. How is the Buckets' poverty shown in the film? How do they deal with it? What does this show about their character?

  8. How is Augustus’ greed portrayed in the film? How have his parents helped develop this?

  9. ‘No good ever comes of spoiling a child like that’ (Grandpa Joe, upon seeing Veruca Salt’s winning of the Golden Ticket on TV)

Do you agree? Why/why not? What is the problem with Veruca’s parents giving her everything she wants? How has this affected her personality?

  1. How is Violet’s ultra competitiveness portrayed? Do you think her level of competitiveness is healthy? Why/Why not? How does this competitiveness affect the ways she views the other children? How does Violet’s attitude compare to how the Bible teaches us to treat other people (see Mark 12:31 for example)?

  2. What affect has Mr and Mrs Teavee’s lack of discipline had on Mike Teavee? How is his character shaped by the media he constantly engages with? Do you think this is a positive or negative thing?

  3. How do you think the other children view Charlie? Why?

  4. What is it that makes Charlie’s parents good parents, and the other children’s parents bad parents? Why?

  5. What are your first impressions of Willy Wonka? Is he a sympathetic character? Is he justified in what he does to the children?

  6. What does Charlie and the Chocolate Factory say about families? What different types of families are represented in the film? Which one do you think is seen in the most positive light? Why?

  7. Is the relationship and conflict between Willy Wonka and his father realistic? How? How is it similar to other father-son relationships in the film or to people you know in real life? How is it different to God as our father and us as his children?

  8. Has Willy Wonka been changed by the end of the film? How? Is it a positive change?

Author: Emily Russell
© Copyright: Emily Russell 2005

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