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The Wolfpacket

The student news site of Claremont High School

The Wolfpacket

The student news site of Claremont High School

The Wolfpacket

a new wonky chapter of Roald Dahl’s funky fanciful universe

a+new+wonky+chapter+of+Roald+Dahls+funky+fanciful+universe

Roal Dahl captured imaginations when he wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 1964. He created a cult classic character who has been developed over time into three different on-screen versions you might know and love: Mr. Willy Wonka. This winter, Willy Wonka received a whole new adaptation.
Seven years after the publication of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Gene Wilder starred in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory much to Dahl’s dismay. Johnny Depp portrayed this iconic character in 2005 in Tim Burton’s version Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Depp’s portrayal of this character leaned towards the darker points of Dahl’s original work. The most recent portrayal of Willy Wonka was not even in a version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Timothée Chalamet took on the backstory of how Willy Wonka got his start in the chocolate business in the 2023 film Wonka.
In the book, Willy Wonka is a man in search of an ethical business partner. He is mildly zany and fun; with his black tophat, plum velvet tailcoat, small, neat pointed black beard and sparkling, twinkly eyes, he was full of fun and laughter As Dahl says in the Original book
. Wonka was “like a quick, clever, little squirrel.”He seems just as excited as the children are to be on the tour of his factory.
Gene Wilder definitely captures this zany and energetic attitude. Throughout the film, he speaks in several languages (including French and German), he has an unforgivable, terrifying tunnel, and he has a fun loving attitude until a kid messes up. Then, he disassociates from the group and seems to dare the kids to mess up. When Augustus Gloop falls into the chocolate river, Gene Wilder’s Wonka is much more concerned about the purity of the chocolate than the life of the child.
On the other hand Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Wonka seems to start at Wilder’s indifference and lean in. The unfolding of the children’s accidents makes it feel planned as the Oompa Loompas have complex song and dance routines for each tragedy. The accidents seem more deadly, and at times, it feels like the children might not come out alive. Depp’s Wonka portrays a sadistic joy in their downfalls, complete with unhinged laughter and a traumatic backstory.
Unlike the other two films, Wonka portrays Mr. Willy Wonka as a less insane man since he had not yet spent 16 years of his life locked up with Oompa Loompas. But he’s still spent some time behind bars washing clothing. A short lived incarnation, where he leaves, instead of hanging around iron bars, he hangs around more chocolate bars. Yet he still had a tragic backstory.
Just as Depp took the darkness and indifference from Wilder’s characterization, Chalamet does the exact opposite. Chalamet’s Wonka is a man of fun loving joy, inventiveness and constant dreams, singing with nods to “Pure Imagination” and other tunes from the original movie. He passes his joy on to other people through magically infused chocolates with crazy ingredients– giraffe’s milk, thunderbolts and sunshine. With the other films, Wonka was the most sadistic character of them all; in this film, these character traits are claimed by other chocolate makers and so-called villains.
These three performances are very unique and they all have similarities to Roal Dahl’s original character. Wonka has proven itself to be the truest to the original story even though it does not tell the story of Charlie.Roald Dahl would be proud.

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About the Contributor
Julia Little, Reporter
Julia Little is a freshman and a first year reporter on the Wolfpacket staff. She is an avid clothes wearer, Shakespeare enjoyer, and rock climber. In her lifetime, Julia has biked across Iowa, making the long trek not once, but twice. Julia, as well as her hair, has grown massively over the years. She has gone from hair the color of a tennis ball — deeming her “tennis ball head” — to a mullet, eventually evolving into her current spectacular hairstyle. In her free time she enjoys acting and skiing. Julia will definitely be living it up in the Wolfpacket, and she looks forward to everything the future has in store.
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