In my previous entry (The Films of Tim Burton Part Five), I covered Planet of the Apes and Big Fish.
Next up is the first of two 2005 films, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I remember when I first heard about Tim Burton signing on to direct. I just knew it was going to be awesome, and I was not disappointed when I was able to go see it at my local movie theater a week or so after it came out. I knew going in that Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka was going to be different than Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka from 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but Depp really brought a new level of weird (and sadness) to the character.
There are two main points in which the film resonates with me. First, there’s Charlie Buckett (portrayed by a terrific Freddie Highmore, who, if you look at his acting credits, must have had an awesome childhood). Charlie yearns for a better life, not just for himself but also his family. He appreciates what he has while trying to remain optimistic. This is something that not only I can relate to, but I’m pretty sure a lot more Americans in the last decade can relate to as well. Charlie had no ego. I liked that Charlie refused Wonka’s offer at first; it showed he had remained humbled and didn’t forget where he came from when being offered wealth (in the form of the chocolate factory and its profits).
Second, there’s the subplot involving the relationship between Willy and his father, Dr. Wonka (a dentist, ironically enough, who’s played by the great Christopher Lee). Throughout the film, Willy hints at being haunted by his childhood, and that, at one point, he left home for good to follow his passion in defiance of his father. When Willy finally confronts his father after so many years, he discovers that his father has been proud of him the whole time. It is this reconciliation that allows Willy to re-offer the factory to Charlie on Charlie’s terms. The strained father-son relationship is the part that resonates with me, but without the reconciliation or any “proud of you” moments. The reconciliation scene serves as a kind of wish-fulfillment for me. Although I’ve made efforts to improve it in the past, some father-son relationships can’t be saved (as I mentioned in my previous entry).
Next up is the second of two 2005 films, the stop-motion animated Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (the film that finally brought Tim Burton an overdue Oscar nod). I was very excited about this release, but it took me nearly a month to see it. I managed to catch it in Union Square using a free pass I had gotten during the summer. Every bit of it was enjoyable. I was amazed that the world of the dead was full of so much life, even more than the world of the living (which looked pretty dead). By the end of the film, I had decreed (to myself) that 2005 was going to be the year of Danny Elfman. What I meant was that I felt Danny Elfman would get two Oscar nods for that year (an Original Score nod for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and an Original Song nod for Corpse Bride). You can’t begin to imagine how pissed off I was when neither of those nominations occurred (that was a very weird year for the Academy Awards).
This might be an unusual film to resonate with me, particular since it’s mostly about death. Victor (voiced by Burton regular Johnny Depp) fears that he won’t have anything in common with his bride-to-be, and it is this fear that drives him into the forest and sets off a chain of events that result in his ending up in the world of the dead with a corpse bride. The fear of commitment isn’t unusual. I sometimes worry about what kind of woman I’ll end up sharing my life with (I’m not really for marriage if it involves rings and ceremonies, but I’m not against the idea of two people spending the rest of their lives together). Will I have a lot in common with her, or only a little? Will our love last? Will I know the real her? Watching this film actually makes me hate being single. It really does. I hope I can be as lucky as Victor someday.
COMING SOON: The Films of Tim Burton Part Seven