Why Tim Burton remade a beloved classic
Whenever a beloved classic is slated to be remade, the outrage from some fans can hit insane levels.
I admit, I know the feeling myself. I refused to see Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween, and I wasn't happy that Dawn of the Dead was going to be remade either, although many, including George Romero himself, thought it was alright.
Many of us film buffs are dreading the day the remake of Citizen Kane or Casablanca will be announced, and true film fans everywhere will revolt if that day ever comes.
So it's funny to think of the outrage I heard from several friends of mine when it was announced Tim Burton would remake Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I've heard more than once that it was an outrage it could be remade, and friends of mine swore they'd never see it in a million years.
Of course, none of them read the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which was absolutely one of my childhood favorites, and the original wasn't flawless. (Quite a few of the musical numbers weren't that great, and the film would have been better without them, although the Oompa Loompa song was a hoot).
Still, the film is indeed a beloved favorite for many people, it's got a lot of great, psychedelic touches, and the casting of Gene Wilder was perfect as the wacky, reclusive candy genius. The screenplay for Willie Wonka was written by David Seltzer, who later went on to write The Omen, and the director was Mel Stuart, who passed away on August 9 at the age of 83.
As the L.A. Times reported, Stuart took the directing gig for Wonka because his daughter loved the book, and she knew it would make a great film. Stuart directed television extensively throughout his career, and he also directed the terrific documentary Wattstax, about a soul music festival in South Central L.A. that Issac Hayes headlined at the height of his Shaft notoriety.
Looking back on Wonka turning into a film, Stuart's daughter Madeline told the Times she was "exceptionally proud" of the movie. Like many beloved films, it wasn't a big hit when it first came out.
"But the film has become such a classic over time and continues to gain in popularity," she said. "My father made this film for himself; he wasn't pandering to children, trying to make a sweet happy film... I think it's absolutely brilliant and charming and a bit dark and very funny – and all those things describe my father."