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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Which Movie Adaptation Is Best?

Comparing the three adaptations of the iconic novel by Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The 1971, 2005 and 2023 versions.

Popel Arseniy/Shutterstock

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), and Wonka (2023) are all adaptations of Roald Dahl’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

In 1971, Gene Wilder became the first actor to put on the iconic purple coat and take on the role of Willy Wonka. Wilder was nominated for Best Performance in a Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy at the 29th Golden Globe Awards. It follows the story of poverty-stricken boy Charlie Bucket, played by Peter Ostrum, who gets the chance to tour Wonka’s famous factory after finding a Golden ticket. He does so along with four other children from around the world.

Throughout the movie, we get to know all five children, and it is clear that the other four children are very spoiled and used to getting what they want. These children are called Mike Teevee, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, and Augustus Gloop. This movie shows us that no matter what situation you find yourself in, you need to be grateful for what you have and not take anything for granted.

It has gotten 91% percent on the Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomato meter and 87% on the audience score. Rotten Tomatoes is a website that a lot of people trust when it comes to watching movies. In 2014, the movie was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in the United States as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”.

This musical fantasy-style film has made songs like “Candyman” and “Pure Imagination”,. These original songs were written for this musical and are extremely popular to this day. It received a nomination for Best Original Score in the 44th Academy Awards.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

The 2005 adaptation could not have been more different. The general storyline and settings stay the same but everything else is not the same. For a start, a very significant factor of the 1971 version is that it’s a musical but that is not the fact with the 2000s version. While the Oompa Loompas still sing their songs after each child meets their various sticky ends, there are no other songs in this version. Johnny Depp’s take on the iconic chocolatier is also very different from Wilder’s take on the role.

“Johnny Depp may deny that he had Michael Jackson in mind when he created the look and feel of Willy Wonka, but moviegoers trust their eyes, and when they see Willy opening the doors of the factory to welcome the five little winners, they will be relieved that the kids brought along adult guardians. Depp’s Wonka — his dandy’s clothes, his unnaturally pale face, his makeup and lipstick, his hat, his manner — reminds me inescapably of Jackson (and, oddly, in a certain use of the teeth, chin and bobbed hairstyle, of Carol Burnett)”.

Roger Ebert/

Most people who saw or have seen the movie find Depp’s version of Wonka downright creepy and freaky. It has the ability to turn people off from watching the film which is a crying shame because Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket and Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs Bucket are truly charming performances that make the film.

It is the highest-grossing Roald Dahl movie adaptation and also director Tim Burton’s second-highest-grossing film. Its dark tone and visual appeal garnered it positive reviews from critics and audiences worldwide despite Depp’s questionable performance.

Wonka (2023)

Nearly a full twenty years have passed since an adaptation of the movie so it is high time that an adaptation is made. And there is no better time to release that adaptation than at Christmas time! On December 8th, Timothée Chalamet took to the big screen to show off his chocolate-making skills and to bring some nostalgia around this magical time of year.

It stars huge names like Hugh Grant, Rowan Atkinson, Matt Lucas, and Sally Hawkins. Like the first adaptation of this movie, it is a musical. It has stunning original songs like “A Hatful of Dreams” and “For a Moment”. Also, in a moment of pure nostalgia, Chalamet performs his take on the iconic “Pure Imagination” from the 1971 version.

This movie is completely different from the 1971 and 2005 adaptations. Instead of following Charlie and his journey, it follows a young Willy Wonka as he sets out to set up his chocolate shop. We see him meeting obstacles like a corrupt police officer with a severe sweet tooth and greedy chocolate makers who will do anything to prevent Wonka from achieving his dream.

But armed with friendship, faith, and a whole load of mischief, this surprising heart-jerking film has warmed and will continue to warm audiences’ hearts worldwide.


Overall, the 1971, 2005, and 2023 film adaptations of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are vastly different, but all have their positives. With multiple adaptations of one movie, people tend to have their favorite adaptation. 

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) has a special place in people’s hearts for being charming and simple. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) focuses more on the life of Charlie Bucket and the Bucket household, which causes audiences to sympathize with their situation.

Finally, Wonka (2023) is a refreshing take on the story and offers an insight into the origins of Wonka’s chocolate

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