Tales of mys­tery, imag­i­na­tion and MAGIC

Lights, cam­era, ac­tion! MAR­ION MCMULLEN looks at how chil­dren’s writer Roald Dahl has in­spired film mak­ers

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - ROALD DAHL ANNIVERSARY -

GE­ORGE CLOONEY, Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, Sean Con­nery, Dick Van Dyke, Danny DeVito and Owen Wil­son are just some of the top act­ing stars who have been cast in Roald Dahl films.

The chil­dren’s writer was born 100 years ago this month in Llandaff, Cardiff, and TV and film bosses have been ea­gerly look­ing to his words to en­ter­tain au­di­ences for years.

Roald penned his whim­si­cal tales, such as Matilda and Char­lie And The Choco­late Fac­tory, in his gar­den shed and in­tro­duced the world to words like Grem­lins, Oompa Loompa, Mug­glewump and whiz­zpop­per.

He even wrote for the movies him­self and was screen­writer for the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice. Roald later said of all the films he was in­volved with, this was the only one where he liked the fin­ished re­sult.

Roald wrote the script for 007’s cre­ator Ian Flem­ing’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was him who came up with the name Truly Scrump­tious, and he also brought the se­ries Tales Of The Un­ex­pected to TV in the 1970s.

Gene Wilder, who died last week at the age of 83, played the ti­tle role in Willy Wonka and The Choco­late Fac­tory in 1971.

Julie Dawn Cole played spoiled brat Veruca Salt in the story about school­boy Char­lie who clinches a golden ticket to gain ac­cess to the en­chant­ing fac­tory. Re­flect­ing on the suc­cess of Gene Wilder’s por­trayal of the fa­mous candy man, she said: “The ge­nius of it. You never quite know whether Mr Wonka is crazy, good, bad, evil. You never quite know what he is.”

Johnny Depp ap­peared as Willy Wonka in 2005 in di­rec­tor Tim Bur­ton’s movie Char­lie And The Choco­late Fac­tory. Some of the but­tons in the fac­tory’s fa­mous glass el­e­va­tor in­cluded black­berry sausages, root beer gog­gles, co­coa cats and T-bone steak and jelly.

Danny Cham­pion Of The World, in 1989, about a wid­owed fa­ther and son and a greedy landowner fea­tured Jeremy Irons and his own son Sam and Robbie Coltrane. Roald used events and char­ac­ters from his own life for the story set in the 1950s. Jeremy’s fa­ther-in-law Cyril Cu­sack also ap­peared in the movie.

Real-life cou­ple Danny DeVito and Rhea Perl­man ap­peared in the 1996 movie Matilda with Pam Fer­ris as the fright­en­ing school prin­ci­pal Miss Trunch­bull.

An­i­mated movie James And The Giant Peach came out the same year with Joanna Lum­ley, Os­car win­ner Richard Drey­fus, Si­mon Cal­low and Pete Postleth­waite pro­vid­ing the voices. Roald Dahl’s own words were used for the movie song Eat­ing The Peach.

Fan­tas­tic Mr Fox, an­other an­i­mated movie, in 2009 at­tracted Hol­ly­wood A-lis­ters with Ge­orge Clooney voic­ing the ti­tle role and Meryl Streep as Mrs Fox. Bill Mur­ray was the voice of Badger, Willem Dafoe was Rat and Owen Wil­son was the voice of Coach Skip.

Di­rec­tor Wes An­der­son later re­vealed it was the first book his mother bought for him when he was a child and he still owns the orig­i­nal copy. Wes him­self ap­pears in the film as the voice of the real es­tate agent weasel.

Roald wrote the story dur­ing a tragic time in his life fol­low­ing the death of one of his five chil­dren from measles and his son Theo be­ing left with wa­ter on the brain after be­ing struck by a car. The writer later helped de­velop a cere­bral shunt known as the Wade-Dahl-Till valve to re­lieve pres­sure to the brain and the de­vice has gone on to help count­less oth­ers.

Roald’s books con­tinue to in­spire. Dame Judi Dench and Dustin Hoff­man starred in the BBC’s adap­ta­tion of Esio Trot last year while Steven Spiel­berg’s big-screen adap­ta­tion of The BFG is in cin­e­mas now.

Back in 1990 it took An­jel­ica Hus­ton eight hours in make-up to be trans­formed into Grand High Witch, Miss Eva Ernst, in the movie The Witches. She was Roald’s per­sonal favourite for the role and the cast also in­cluded Rowan Atkin­son, Jane Hor­rocks and Blenda Blethyn.

Roald died three months after the movie was re­leased and the 74-yearold was buried with some of his favourite things, in­clud­ing HB pencils, choco­late and red wine.

He once summed up the rea­son for his suc­cess as: “I go down to my lit­tle hut, where it’s tight and dark and warm, and within min­utes I can go back to be­ing six or seven or eight again.”

As a screen writer he was Bond to suc­ceed Roald Dahl was a nat­u­ral story teller who dreamed up his tales in the gar­den shed

Roald brought Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to our screens Mr Fox was a fan­tas­tic hit

Gene Wilder, who died re­cently, as Willy Wonka in the classic 1971 movie

An­jel­ica Hus­ton was per­fect as the Grand High Witch

Matilda was the per­fect pupil

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