Monday 21 August 2017

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of Roald Dahl's most famous and beloved stories. There have been two wonderful film versions made, and many people rate it as their favourite Dahl story. I've seen both the movies (quite a few times) and read the book twice, and while I liked the story well enough I didn't love reading the book that much. So recently (well actually last year - as I just found this post written languishing unpublished) when it came time to re-read the final of the six Dahl titles for my 1001 quest I was a bit hesitant, and not all that keen. But then I had the rather brilliant idea to listen to it instead. My Roald Dahl Audio Collection has James Bolam reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and he does a fine job of it, although I was secretly disappointed not to have the Eric Idle version.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is of course the story of Little Charlie Bucket, who lives with his parents and four grandparents in a two room house. The family are terribly poor, all trying to survive on the meagre wage that Charlie's father earns putting the tops on toothpaste tubes at the toothpaste factory. The family subsist on bread and margarine for breakfast, boiled potatoes and cabbage for lunch and watery cabbage soup for dinner. "Sundays were a bit better..... everyone could have a second helping." The Buckets saved up each year and Charlie is able to have a single chocolate bar on his birthday which he nibbles at and makes last for a few weeks.

The family follow the big news when Willy Wonka starts his competition to find five golden tickets that will allow each of the winners entry to his usually out of bounds factory on one special day only. Four impossibly named children win tickets - Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregard and Mike Teavee. There is only one ticket left to win. It's no secret I suspect that Charlie finds that very last golden ticket. More than half the story is the action and delights when the five children and their parents, or grandfather Joe in Charlie's case, tour the factory.

And what a factory it is- the factory itself is a masterpiece of Dahl's imagination. That chocolate mixed by waterfall is the best chocolate in the world. The various rooms. The buttons on the Great Glass Elevator. Sugar-Coated Pencils for Sucking. Luminous Lollies for Eating in Bed at Night. Rainbow Drops -Suck Them and You can Spit in Six Different Colours. The Oompa-Loompas, how Willy Wonka rescued them from all the dangers of Oompa-Loompa Land- the snozzwangers and hornswogglers.

I was glad that I took the time to listen to the audio, it was a lovely experience. I then rematched the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Master Wicker. We should rewatch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sometime soon.

RN did a great story about the Roald Dahl Museum to coincide with Roald Dahl Day last month (2016). Naturally it's rather high on my travel wish list.

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