13 September 2016 marked Roald Dahl’s 100 birthday.
The man who wrote characters like the eccentric Willy Wonka, the brilliant Matilda, and the cunning Mr Fox is one of the most iconic writers of our time, so it is no surprise that there have been numerous adaptations of his books on film. Here are the five most memorable films inspired by Dahl’s books.
Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)
Wes Anderson gives his personal touch to this 1970 Roald Dahl book about the clever Mr Fox who steals from three wicked and selfish farmers named Boggis, Bunce and Bean. Starring the voice talents of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray and Wes Anderson himself, the film is one of the highest critically rated Anderson films. Because of his films like the Royal Tenenbaums (2001), Anderson is a natural fit for Dahl’s whimsical stories. The director’s signature cinematic style of bright colours and direct camera angles also serves well in taking Dahl’s story from print to screen.
James & the Giant Peach (1996)
Henry Selick's mixed-media adaptation of one of Dahl's most beloved novels is a delight to watch. The book was released in 1961 and in 1992, Walt Disney Pictures acquired its film rights from the Dahl estate. The film was well-received by critics and made roughly $29 million at the box office on an estimated $38 million budget.
Sam Mendes, director of James Bond's Skyfall is all set to bring you the live-action version of the film, but no release date has been set yet.
The BFG (1989)
This was before the 2016 magnum opus directed by Steven Spielberg. This 1989 animated version has the giant's jumbled utterances going from tolerably quirky to downright grating. Dahl, who loathed most film versions of his work, apparently loved this one, and it's harmless enough, but not as awe-inspiring as Spielberg's version.
Danny, the champion of the world (1989)
This is based on Dahl’s 1975 novel about a father and his son who poach an evil businessman’s prized pheasants when he refuses to stop harassing them. With no giants or witches, eccentric geniuses or flying fruit, the made-for-TV version of Dahl's 1975 book is the odd adaptation that suffers in comparison to the book. Jeremy Irons acts opposite his real-life son Samuel and although the two of them share an easy chemistry (naturally enough), the pacing is off and the story plods along.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Based on arguably the most popular Dahl novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the film adaptation entitled Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory was released in 1971 starring the late and oh-so-great Gene Wilder as Wonka. Dahl stated he did not approve of the film version because there was more emphasis on Wonka and Charlie and would have preferred Spike Milligan to have portrayed Wonka instead.