Fantastic Dahl movies

Wes Anderson’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic The Fantastic Mr. Fox is slated to hit theatres November 25th.

If you’re a grown-up Dahl fan, congratulations! You’re obviously a great person with a childhood full of slightly morbid memories. Find someone else who loved Dahl as a kid and you’ve likely found a new drinking companion.

Part of Roald Dahl’s brilliance is that his work is completely inappropriate for most children. His tales understood what children feared most, creating a world filled with menacing, irrational grownups, caustic wit and refreshing honesty. He admitted the simple unfairness of being a child, and confirmed that, yup, the world was just as terrifying as you suspected.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox is the eighth film adaptation made from Dahl’s books, but the screen hasn’t always treated his works so kindly.

If you’re up for reliving your childhood in anticipation, here are four other Dahl book-turned-films, and how close they came to what made Dahl… well, so fantastic.

The Witches (1990)
Dahl’s witches are sinister creatures, holding annual conventions where they plot to rid the world of children. Recently orphaned Luke is determined to stop them. Unflinchingly sinister, this is the rare adaptation that actually manages to be creepier than the book.

Matilda (1996)
Matilda is so clever, she’s developed psychic powers. Unfortunately she still has to contend with idiotic parents, an evil headmistress and the fact that, you know, she’s only six. Surprisingly faithful, the film doesn’t sugarcoat Matilda’s corrosively neglectful parents or the downright illegal conduct of Headmistress Trunchbull. Sure, it’s got a happy ending, but how many kid films portray child abandonment as a plus?

James and the Giant Peach (1996)
This adaptation glosses over much of the book’s surreal loneliness in favour of animated antics and insipid music numbers. As a result, this film is safe for children of all ages, something that should never be uttered about a Roald Dahl movie.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Dahl took over this screenplay, and it shows: the wicked humour of the book remains untouched, and is particularly trailblazing in the suggestion that you know what, some kids are just brats, and those bratty kids should be punished. Albeit in delicious ways. Rent this instead of the hit-or-miss 2005 Johnny Depp version.

2 comments

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19 February 2010

  1. Elling Lien · February 19, 2010

    I saw Fantastic Mr. Fox last night and really enjoyed it. Future classic? Possibly.

  2. Adam · February 19, 2010

    It was definitely one of the best movies of this year. That there was a line-up to see Twilight in its second week, but a scan thirty people seeing Fantastic Mr Fox on Saturday night made me very, very sad.

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