Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory yesterday. In general it’s a decent version of the story. But let’s not forget that it’s a children’s book so the plot isn’t exactly complex :)

However, there was one thing that really annoyed me about it. And that was the blatant Americanisation of the dialogue. The book isn’t set anywhere specific, but it feels a lot like the UK. This film also starts by appearing to be set in some unspecified town that looks a lot like some generic industrial British town. The cars drive on the left and all of the major actors (with the obvious exception of Johnny Depp) are British and speak with a British accent.

But there was something niggling at me during the first half an hour or so of the film and I eventually worked out what it was – Charlie and his family talk about buying “candy” from the “store”. In the UK we buy sweets from a shop. Then when Charlie finds the golden ticket in the sweetshop, a woman offers him $500 for it. In the book that was £500.

I don’t understand why the filmmakers felt the need to make these pointless changes. Do they really think that audiences in the US will be less likely to enjoy a film if the cultural references relate to a different country?

Oh, and one more thing I thought of this morning. In one of the flashbacks to Wonka’s childhood we see him out “trick or treating” at Halloween. This must have been at least thirty years in the past. But “trick of treat” is only just starting to catch on in the UK. Even ten years ago you would have never seen it.

I’ve always thought of Tim Burton as an intelligent director. I’m disappointed to see him supporting this kind of cultural colonialism.

5 thoughts on “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

  1. Do they really think that audiences in the US will be less likely to enjoy a film if the cultural references relate to a different country?In my experience, yes. I’m sure the majority of Americans would be fine with it, but I’ve met quite a few Americans who are completely baffled by other cultures – even Canada and the UK. The same thing has happened in War of the Worlds, I’m told – the book was set in England, but the film is set in the US. I guess filmmakers are just too scared of this minority affecting their ratings.

  2. I refused to go and see this film, the first one sucked enough. However my main reason for not going was the following awful line that Charlie says “Candy doesn’t have a purpose, that’s why its candy!”.. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.I was in a good mood until I started thinking about this film :) And I lost respect for Burton when I saw Planet of the Apes.

  3. I disagree, I remember going trick or treating when I was alot younger about 8 yrs old or so and I am now 23 so trick or treating mustve been around longer. But yes i did pick up on the same “americanism” in the film and found it unjustified when most characters are English.Matt

  4. Ok, it’s possible that I miscalculated the first appearance of trick or treat in the UK. Matt says he was doing it fifteen years ago. That surprises me, but perhaps that was when it first started to appear. Or perhaps it’s a regional thing? Maybe it arrived earlier in other parts of the country.

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