Roald Dahl novels have been an inspiration to young readers for generations and for many were the first books they read! Dahl’s books won young readers over with his wacky characters, villainous adults and child heroes with hearts of gold. To celebrate Roald Dahl day we have decided to take a trip down memory lane and look back at some of the best Dahl book-to-movie adaptations.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971 film) - based on the 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
We had to start off with an absolute childhood classic! Whilst famously not favoured by Dahl himself due to the many changes made from the book, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory has become a childhood favourite for many. Whilst arguable one of the loosest adaptations, its memorable characters, catchy songs (such as “The Candy Man” and “Pure Imagination”) and Mr Wonka himself played by Gene Wilder. This film became an instant family-film classic!
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005 film) – based on the 1964 novel of the same name
Tim Burton’s much more faithful adaptation hit the screens in 2005. The characters were much closer to the book this time around as well as the general plot. Being a Burton creation, the film has a slightly darker tone, as does Mr Wonka. Whilst not as much of a favourite to those who hold the 1971 version close to their hearts, it’s a winner amongst fans of the book for its accurate depiction.
The Witches (1990 film) – based on 1983 novel of the same name
Can we please take a moment to reflect on just how terrifying The Witches was when watching as a child? I’m sure we’re not the only ones still haunted by the story of the girl in the picture! Whilst definitely one of Dahl’s scarier books it (along with the movie adaptation) quickly became a fan favourite. However, Dahl was once again disappointed by the plot changes made for the movie, particularly the ending in which the film opted against the original, and much more bleak, ending.
Matilda (1996 film) – based on 1988 novel of the same name
Whilst not a hit at the box office, the adaptation of Matilda grew to become a cult childhood favourite for many. There is something so amazing watching Matilda, a girl who is outcasted by her family, become a strong and confident child through her love of books and her friendship with her teacher Miss Honey, who is the first to discover just how gifted she is. Speaking of gifted, we can’t not mention the epic finale in which Matilda defeats the evil Miss Trunchbull with her telekinetic powers!
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009 animated film) – based on 1970 novel of the same name
What is there not to love about Fantastic Mr Fox? With a classic Wes Anderson feel and star-studded cast, this is truly one of the strongest Roald Dahl adaptations. Mr Fox is witty, intelligent and incredibly mischievous - the perfect protagonist! He, along with his friends, face a trio of evil farmers who wish to stop them from taking food from the farm. Fantastic Mr Fox is ultimately a story about triumphing against evil forces, but also explores the importance of friends and family – as most great Dahl stories do!
To celebrate the legacy of Roald Dahl today, why not re-read a childhood favourite or have an impromptu movie night of your favourite adaptation?
What’s your favourite Roald Dahl book or movie? Let us know over on Twitter @italkuk