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Feature
A Brief History Of Roald Dahl On Film
As The BFG gears up, we take a look through the writer’s back catalogue…

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Plenty of Dahl’s finest children’s stories are yet to make it to the big screen – notably The Twits, Esio Trot, George's Marvellous Medicine and The Giraffe And The Pelly And Me – but it’s The BFG that Steven Spielberg has chosen as his next directorial gig. He’ll be walking in the rather large footsteps of 1989’s animated TV movie, and will have to cast someone at least as impressive as Helen Mirren to play The Queen, as well as finding the perfect amiable colossus. But Dahl’s tales have long been an inspiration for Hollywood, his dark children’s stories producing feature length films both good and bad. Here is the compendium of what’s been made so far...

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WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971)

Director: Mel Stuart
Stars: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Roy Kinnear
Original book released: 1961 (as Charlie And The Chocolate Factory)

After the Tim Burton version, the decades of Easter weekend TV viewings, the Family Guy mickey take (where it’s beer instead of sweets), the Futurama mickey take (where it’s an addictive soft drink called Slurm instead of sweets) and the real-life confectionary, it’s easy to forget that the first cinematic adaptation of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory disappeared into a river of what you’d hope is chocolate on its initial release, earning just $4 million domestically off the back of a $2.9 million budget. It also made Charlie just as bad as the other factory visitors, as he broke Wonka’s rules to try that bubbling lemonade, a decision that has always mystified us. Still, it gradually became a cult success so successful it was cult no longer, and now everyone in the world will occasionally have nightmares about Oompa Loompas singing at them in unison about their deepest, darkest fears.

Fun fact: Goonie extraordinaire and member of the I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue team Tim Brooke-Taylor has a small role as a computer “expert”. Also, Dahl originally wanted Spike Milligan to play Willy Wonka, but the producers declined.
 

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