Archives » December 21st, 2004

December 21, 2004

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

There aren’t too many movies that I get excited about months and months in advance. In fact I haven’t even been out to see a movie for the longest time, since we’re raising our son Sam without babysitters for the first couple of years. Most everything that’s come out recently hasn’t been worth a trip out to the multiplex anyway, and I’ve been more than happy to wait until they come out on DVD. If I see them at all.

But one project I’ve been following, not just for months but for years, is the new adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It seems like every big director and every big star has been attached to this project in the last decade, with one of the most prominent rumors being that Tim Burton would direct and Marilyn Manson would star as Willy Wonka. That mercifully turned out to be just as false as the other rumors, at least the Marilyn Manson part, but the thought of Tim Burton directing stuck with me, even as he came out with stinkers like Planet of the Apes. And in the end he actually did get the job, proving that even the rumormongers guess right sometimes.

The first thing Tim Burton did was hire Johnny Depp to play Mr. Willy Wonka, something I don’t even think the rumormongers saw coming. The second thing he did was to throw out all the previous scripts that had been written and bring in his own screenwriter, John August. And I heard that John August had never seen the first movie, the Gene Wilder one, so he asked Tim Burton if he should watch it before writing the sceenplay. Tim Burton told him, “Absolutely not.” This is a not a remake of the original film, this is something new based on the same book. Now I like the first film (unlike some people), but I know that it was a pretty big departure from the book. Tim Burton’s movie should stick a little closer to the off-kilter tone of the book, but we’ll have to wait to see just how much of himself he puts into it.

And wait we had to. At the point Tim Burton was announced as director, the release date was still two years away, so it was going to be a long wait. When filming started last summer, I thought that it wouldn’t be long until pictures of the sets and the costumes started to find their way onto the internet. I didn’t know that it would be another half-year before we’d get to see anything, and that the first glimpses of the art direction on this movie would come from an official trailer.

But that’s the way it worked out. Last week I got an early Christmas present when the first 55-second teaser for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was released. You can find it at Yahoo Movies, and also at a new official site. In some ways it’s everything I imagined, and yet it’s also completely different. Tim Burton’s stamp is most definitely on this movie, unlike Planet of the Freaking Apes, which it seems was phoned in by just about everybody involved. This movie goes back to the Beetle Juice/Nightmare Before Christmas era of creating a madcap world and taking the audience on a ride through it. But my words can never take the place of pictures, so let’s dissect some of the imagery, shall we? Click through to see screencaps from the trailer.

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Web Design World Boston

At FTPOnline: video from Web Design World 2004, held in Boston a couple of weeks ago. The keynote was from Jeffrey Zeldman, although the “video” is nothing more than the slides he put up on the screen. There’s no actual video of him up on the stage. I haven’t watched the other videos, but they might be just the same. Plus the files are streaming, so you’re going to be tethered to your desk. I’ve gotten spoiled listening to so many podcasts recently; when I run into audio like this I want to be able to throw it on a CD and take it in the car with me. Can’t do that with streaming audio. And can’t do it at all with video. Yet.