Recently, I finally got around to watching the 2005 film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’ve long been a fan of the older movie version (from 1971, starring Gene Wilder and called Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, for some reason). But I happened to be out of the country on vacation when the Tim Burton version came out in theaters, and I guess I just lost interest when I realized that it was no longer showing on IMAX. Fast forward to September 2008, and find me happily settled on my futon (with a pint of chocolate ice cream) to watch the movie on TV. Hooray!
What does all this have to do with my FIVE list, you ask? Well, after watching the older movie, I’ve always been a little afraid of Willy Wonka. I don’t know about you, but I found Gene Wilder’s depiction of the candy inventor to be pretty darn creepy. In particular, I was traumatized by the weird boat scene where Willy Wonka is chanting, “Yes! The danger must be growing, / For the rowers keep on rowing, / And they’re certainly not showing / Any signs that they are slowing . . .” Um, FREAKY!
However, the new Willy Wonka, as played by Johnny Depp, struck me as very strange but completely harmless — someone in need of a friend, even. Instead of being disturbed by the thought of coming into contact with the man, I now would jump at the opportunity to get a golden ticket (especially given my deep love for food). Who would have thought that Tim Burton, of all people, would be the one to help me get over my aversion to Willy Wonka?
In honor of my new affection for Willy Wonka, here is my list of the five book characters I’d most want to meet in person:
5. Willy Wonka (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl)
Thanks to Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, now I’d love to meet the genius behind everlasting gobstoppers, an entirely edible landscape, and all the rest of the mouthwatering wonders described by Dahl!
4. Charlotte A. Cavatica (Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White)
I don’t think any explanation is necessary beyond what E. B. White says at the end of the book: “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”
3. Victoria (Secret Letters from 0 to 10 by Susie Morgenstern)
You may have never heard of this book, translated from French (even though
the author was born in New Jersey!), but it’s one of my absolute favorites. It’s about a boy named Ernest who lives a dull, dreary existence until one day Victoria moves into the neighborhood and throws back the curtains and lets in the sunlight on his life by her sheer exuberant presence. I’d be very curious to experience whatever adventure she would bring to me.
2. Dobby (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)
While he’s far from the grandest character in the series, you’d be hard-pressed to
find one who is more unerringly selfless and unwaveringly good-hearted. RIP, Dobby.
1. Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket)
Fine, this is a bit of a cheat, but I’d argue that this elusive man in a bowler hat is as much a character in his books as he is the alleged author of them. And with all of the unresolved mysteries even now that the series is over, Lemony Snicket is the #1 book character I’d want to meet in person. I’d love to corner him in a room and interrogate him — and by “interrogate,” I mean “ask him all my burning questions about VFD, and in the event that he refuses to answer, threaten to torture him with my own ill-conceived definitions of sophisticated vocabulary words, in the style of his writing but not nearly as clever.” Take that, Mr. Snicket! I’ll get you to talk if it’s the last thing I do!
What about you? Which book character would YOU most want to meet in person?
(Or if you just want to share your own thoughts about the two Charlie and the Chocolate Factory films, I’d love to hear those too! Was anyone as creeped out by Gene Wilder’s Wonka as I was?)
— Karen, STACKS Staffer