Charlie and the Chocolate Factory



When I was a kid, I wasn’t a big Roald Dahl-fan. I loved fantasy and fairy tales, but Dahl couldn’t enchant me. On the contrary, after reading THE WITCHES (and seeing the movie) I experienced my first major trauma in my otherwise rather happy childhood. And I still can’t eat spaghetti without thinking of that horrible worm-scene in THE TWITS…And to make matters worse - I’m bracing myself for all the scandalized looks and gasps - I HATED Quintin Blake’s illustrations.
So it won’t come as a surprise when I say I never even read CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY.
However, then I discovered Dahl’s “Revolting Rhymes” and gradually, Blake’s illustrations didn’t seem that boring or unimaginative anymore. And lo! After deciding I’d better confront my childhood fears and trauma’s, I actually fell in love with the once so dreaded stories, loving their fantasy and fantastic wit.

You won’t believe it, but all this nostalgic nonsense actually has a point: my CHARLIE-free youth made that I went to the Burton-movie and bought the Elfman-soundtrack without the slightest urge to compare it to the Gene Wilder-adaptation or even to the book, (you’ll be pleased to know, however, that I read it a couple of weeks ago).
Comparisons can be very interesting, but in my review, I will inevitably focus on Burton’s and Elfman’s take on the story.

(01) Wonka’s Welcome Song
The album opens with this rather grotesque (and annoying?) song. In the movie, it’s “sung” by a couple of automated puppets which dramatically brake down (the eye that pops out is actually quite disturbing). It sounds like the “Welcome to Duloc” (SHREK) – er – welcome song.
It certainly isn’t something you would expect to open an album, and some may find it quite – how to put it? – stupid. For me however, it works just fine, since it gives a perfect indication of the bizarre adventure that lies ahead.
Like all the other songs, it’s sung entirely by Elfman. This version is actually the demo, which worked so well they just remixed it to give it a bit more depth.

(02) Augustus Gloop
Elfman must have had a great time writing the songs for the four pesky children, each song totally different from the other.
In the movie, they are sung by the Oompa-Loompa’s (the little workers of the Factory).
“Augustus Gloop” not only tells of the “drowning” of greedy Augustus, it also introduces the audience directly to said Oompa-Loompa’s (it opens with a softly repeated and rhythmic “Oompa-Loompa”).
This song is, thanks to its driving percussion and chorus, closest to the actual “Oompa-Loompa”-ish coloured music, heard later on the soundtrack.
Swinging brass gives it an extra touch, making it almost impossible to stay still while listening to this song.
Just a quick note on the great choreography during this music: around 1’32 we get an overview of this absurdly-out-of-place-looking-and-thus-funny water ballet, performed by the O-L’s.
Originally, Elfman intended on writing all the songs in this ‘Bollywood’-style, but it was decided this would sound a bit to monotonous after a while.

(03) Violet Beauregarde
While “Augustus Gloop” had a more primal rhythmic feeling, “Violet Beauregarde” sounds more like modern pop and R&B, with a distinct bass, synths, electric guitar and a loud jamming chorus.
Again, different “Oompa-Loompa”’s (as in words, not the actual people) are inserted in the lyrics, now emphasizing the more funky rhythm.

(04) Veruca Salt
A delicious parody of a 60’s pop-song, complete with sugar-sweet vocals (“aaaaaaah”) and (in the movie) hilarious choreography (think of the little movement that accompanies “horrid smeeeeeeell!).
The sitar (1’25) only increases the sugary feeling, giving it at the same time something strangely exotic.

(05) Mike Teavee
Well, we’ve had pop, the sixties, swinging Bollywood, … now, it’s time to rock.
This song I personally like the least (perhaps because 80’s rock isn’t really my cup of tea), but I must admit, the hints of “Bohemian Rhapsody” are very well done (and funny).
In the movie, we see ‘little Mike’ as he is zapped in different television shows. The style of the song changes depending on the show he turns up in. So when he appears between a Beatles-like group, the rock turns slightly sixties again (1’04).

(06) Main Titles
After the five songs, it’s time for the score to kick in, opening (as the movie) with these “Main Titles”.
The beginning is actually rather creepy. Downward violins immediately reveal that you’re about to see a Tim Burton movie with the typical gothic influences. This won’t be your overall kiddie movie!Gradually, the atmosphere changes: violins and a strong percussion (0’23) (reminds me a bit of the SPIDER-MAN Main Titles) introduce (the more ominous A-Section of the theme) the actual Main Theme (0’47) (the B-section) (the title of the movie appears on screen). Driving percussion and “ethnic” vocals give the six-note-theme a more “primal” feeling. This music refers to the mystery of the factory in which of course the Oompa-Loompa’s play a huge part. Perhaps this explains its more basic sound.
During the music, we follow the “making of a Willy Wonka chocolate bar”, and thanks to the steady rhythm, the sudden bursts of chorus, violins and brass and Elfman’s use of synths, the music really emphasises the energy of the process.
Here and there, sound effects create a very original (and also slightly creepy) atmosphere, for example around 1’22 and 2’04 where a bunch of squirrels happily seems to – er – squirrel.
We can hear various repetitions and variations on the Main Theme (both A and B-section).
The music softly fades out and we hear briefly a softer theme (the Family Theme) (4’34) which introduces us to the hero of the tale, Charlie Bucket. It is the same kind of melancholic and slightly twisted lullaby as the famous EDWARD SCISSORHAND Main Theme. A flute, soft strings and a haunting chorus create the same kind of sweet innocence. The notion of family is quite important to the story; it’s no surprise that we’ll hear this theme in many other tracks.

(07) Wonka’s First Shop
Grandpa Joe goes tells Charlie more about Willy Wonka’s strange back-story. After a very playful beginning, we can hear around 0’19 the theme for Wonka. As most of Elfman’s themes (EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS) it has a melancholic touch, which only adds to the mysterious childhood of the famous chocolate maker.
At 0’58, tension begins to build and a grand climax with chorus and brass accompanies the opening of the Chocolate Factory.

(08) The Indian Palace
A sitar and other exotic instruments and percussion immediately transport us to far-away India, where we witness in a flashback sequence how Wonka builds a palace made out of chocolate for a local prince.
At 0’56, foreboding strings gradually begin to dominate the cosy feeling – something is going very wrong. And indeed, around 1’14, strong brass and a complaining sitar describe the melting of the palace, for even Wonka hasn’t yet been able to invent chocolate that can withstand the burning heat of the sun.
The climax is followed by an almost jazzy-sounding, but also ominous underscore (1’50) (spies are selling Wonka’s secrets) in which we can hear briefly the A-Section of the Main Theme (2’01).
The music suddenly turns happier (2’13) – “thanks to” industrial espionage, other companies start selling typical Wonka products too.
For Wonka himself (Willy Wonka Theme, 2’34), this is of course disastrous, and accompanied by a rather bombastic and downward variation of his theme, he decides to close his beloved factory.

(09) Wheels in Motion
Soft strings and piano introduce us further to Charlie’s poor family. At 0’43, we hear the heart-warming Family Theme (accompanied by an EDWARD SCISSORHANDS sounding chorus); despite their poverty, Charlie’s family is quite happy, valueing human above money or luxury.
Suddenly (0’59), the tranquillity is broken as the A-Section of the Main Theme suddenly breaks through, followed (1’11) by the B-Section. The introductions are made, the story is about to take off. Wonka decides to organize a competition: five children will get the chance to visit his Factory. After a softer, more mysteriously sounding intermezzo (Wonka’s announcement is read), excitement gradually builds (for example, the subtle ticking of a clock – 2’26 – Japanese children are waiting impatiently for the local store to open) and public hysteria breaks loose. All around the world (from the above mentioned Japan to Morocco – 2’38), people are looking desperately for one of those much craved five Golden Tickets.
The music is influenced by this global chaos: it goes from a more Arabic (2’38-2’52) to an almost “suburban” sound (2’56-3’03) (reminding me a bit of the opening titles of DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES).
The track beautifully fades out…

(10) Charlie’s Birthday Bar
The soft strings and piano play a warm underscore. The tension builds gradually. Will Charlie find a Golden Ticket in his Birthday Chocolate Bar?
Sadly enough, he doesn’t. Disappointment follows (0’53). Nevertheless, Charlie enjoys his birthday present and generously shares his chocolate with the rest of his family.
You expect the Family Theme to surface every second, but it never does. The music is there to create the cosy, slightly sad and melancholic atmosphere, for example with piano chords (for instance 1’34) (which sound kind of Thomas Newman-ish).

(11) The Golden Ticket/Factory
Chorus and strings create an almost magical, exciting feeling. Charlie has found a Golden Ticket and has a chance to visit Willy Wonka’s fascinating Factory.
Around 0’51, the orchestra brings a wonderful rendition on the Family Theme, orchestrated like the Main Theme. The five children and their companion go, under a lot of press-attention to the Factory.
The excitement is growing (1’07) as the world waits impatiently to see the first glimpse in ages of the mysterious Willy Wonka. Low strings silently repeat the beginning of the Family theme. A clock seems to be ticking off.
At precisely ten o’clock, the gates open (2’17). The children and their companions enter. Low strings and chorus maintain the tension. Around 2’47, the low strings play softly the A-Section of the Main Theme.
The track flows over in…

(12) Chocolate Explorers
This is Elfman at his best: dark, brooding and melancholic.
The beginning seems the introduction to Wonka’s Theme, but then strings play chords of the A-Section of the Main Theme, followed by a strange climax (listen to the little bells playing the Family Theme – 0’20) (0’22 - a downward version of the Theme??) as the visitors arrive in the Chocolate Room. The chorus (singing variations on Wonka’s Theme – 0’33) and sound effects only increase the mysterious feeling.
Brass softly plays the A-Section of the Main Theme. The visitors venture deeper and deeper in the Factory (1’18) – the percussion, strings and rhythmic humming (1’40 – again the A-Section) really make it sound as some discovery trip through unknown territory.

(13) Loompa Land
Primal vocals and an exotic orchestration (but electric guitar?) guides us to Oompa Loompa Land, hidden in the deep jungle. A sudden burst of brass announces a hectic climax (0’53) (I have no idea what happens here – perhaps when Wonka is chased by that giant bug?). After a short silence, the primal calmness is restored.
After 1’25, we hear the Oompa-Loompa underscore, which will be used in most of the Oompa-Loompa tracks.

(14) The Boat Arrives
A fantastic track. Wonderfully over-dramatic and theatrical.
Like the steady rhythm of a slave ship, heavy drumbeats announce the – er – arrival of the boat, steered by – of course – Oompa-Loompa’s (anounced by the humming vocals).
Around 0’41, the boat finally arrives. Strings, brass and sound effects build a heavenly bombastic climax (0’41) (the music could almost be used as the perfect introduction for a villain).
The cue goes over in…

(15) The River Cruise
The music maintains its foreboding and mysterious character, while swirling strings and percussion add a rhythm of moving water. The Oompa-Loompa’s keep humming.
Around 1’13 there is sudden change of rhythm; the chants become more complex (in different layers) and urgent. This music will also be used in “The River Cruise, Part 2”.
The music softly fades out.

(16) First Candy
One of my personal highlights. In a flashback, we witness one of the most important moments in Wonka’s life: his first taste of candy.
The music begins with some kind of magical anticipation, emphasized by sound effects (similar to those used in “Main Titles”).
At 0’20, we hear a nostalgic, almost sad version of the Wonka Theme. Suddenly, excitement builds (0’33) (Willy unwraps his first sweet and puts it eagerly in his mouth). The effect is instantaneous. It’s like entering a new world, full of previously unknown sensations: the orchestra plays the Wonka Theme with a great deal of verve. It’s the triumph of candy over stoic dentists, it’s enjoying something you’ve craved for for so long...

(17) Up and Out
The famous elevator scene from the book.Excited and urging sound-effects drive the elevator “up and out” of the Factory. As it bursts through the chimney and flies over the Factory, heavy brass briefly bring a statement of the A-Section of the Main Theme (0’51).
The second part is more underscore (with some sound-effects) (Wonka meets Charlie’s family??), without a clear theme but some brief statements of the A-Section (like 1’44, played by a foreboding organ). At some places, the music reminds me strongly of Doctor Finklestein’s theme in THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

(18) The River Cruise – Part 2
And we’re back on the pink boat with the Oompa-Loompa’s, continuing our journey through the Factory. We hear the same underscore as the one at the end of “The River Cruise”, but now, the humming voices are assisted by the chorus (0’20), adding a touch of mystery. Strings (later replaced by brass) are now more prominently present and create an even more urging feeling. Fantastic music!

(19) Charlie declines
Once more a very soft, sad piece, brought by harp, strings and piano. It’s very similar to “Charlie’s Chocolate Bar” (for example the piano on 0’43). Again, we can hear Charlie’s disappointment (this time in Wonka’s character). You expect the Family Theme to pop up, but the music stays underscore.

(20) Finale
But as in all Fairy Tales, the Happy Ending isn’t that far away.
Piano and strings play the same soft underscore as in “Charlie’s Chocolate Bar” and “Charlie Declines”, but now, the Family Theme does make an appearance (1’18), sounding very sweet and innocent.
Around 1’48, the theme is played in an almost mischievous way (perhaps referring to Wonka who is part of the family now). Bells, sweeping strings and chorus create a Christmas-like feeling while bringing different variations of the Family Theme, thus ending the movie.

(21) End Credits Suite
The suite is actually a series of karaoke versions of the five Oompa-Loompa songs (a great way to impress on parties! All you have to do is learn the lyrics) that can be heard in the movie. We hear successively “Wonka’s Welcome Song”, “Violet Beauregarde”, “Augusts Gloop”, “Mike Teavea” and “Veruca Salt” (complete with cheesy piano, sitar and backing vocals!).
These instrumental versions really emphasize Elfman’s talent and eye for detail (or at least that of his orchestrators). Every song seems to be the result of the combined action of different rhythms, vocals and instruments – it’s like creating peace out of total chaos.


This last line actually resumes the total score of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. Elfman really had and took the oppurtinity to give free rein to his wide talent and wild imagination (combined with Burton’s interpretations, of course), by delivering a score so surprisingly broad and different, without loosing its feeling of unity once.


Music composed by Danny Elfman, conducted by Rick Wentworth and orchestrated by Bruce Fowler, Edgardo Simone and David Sloanaker.

Songs composed and performed by Danny Elfman.
Lyrics of “Augustus Gloop”, “Violet Beauregarde”, “Veruca Salt” and “Mike Teavea” by Roald Dahl.
Lyrics of “Wonka’s Welcome Song” by Danny Elfman.

Warner Sunset Records, 2005


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21:18 Gepost door MarieLise VW | Permalink | Commentaren (1) |  Facebook |


it’s like creating peace out of total chaos That is the best summary you could possibly give for this score. I loved it because it was just as wacky and messed up as the movie.

Wonderfull review!

Gepost door: Chennique | 19-03-06

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