Roald Dahl is in the news as British foreign secretary Boris Johnson calls Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn a “mutton-headed, old mugwump.” The press had a field day with it, trying to figure out what in the world he meant!
When questioned, Johnson said he thought the word was from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: “I think Willy Wonka says it either to the parents of Violet Beauregarde or Augustus Gloop.” Of course, true Dahl fans know that isn’t quite the case! The word actually appears in the book’s sequel Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. And in The Twits, Dahl used a form of the word as the name of Muggle-wump the Monkey.
The official Dahl site has an interesting blog post about first-draft Charlie material that was later cut before publication. For example:
‘The Warming Candy Room’ [was] described as ‘like the engine room of a gigantic old-fashioned ship’, created red sweets that will ‘warm your entire body even on the coldest of days’
I also loved the idea of “enormous snow-white polar bears made out of white chocolate”!
There are photographs of Dahl’s original hand-written manuscripts as well. If you’re a Wonka fan, you should definitely check it out.
Wow. The news feeds are full this week with stories that the Roald Dahl estate is working with Warner Bros. to produce a new film about Willy Wonka. No, it’s not the official sequel Charlie and the Great Class Elevator. Instead it’s going to be a prequel story that comes before the events of the first book. It won’t be an origin story, but rather ” a standalone movie focused on Wonka and his early adventures”. The filmmakers are clearly trying to establish a Potter-like franchise, and they think Wonka could provide the hook.
Reaction seems to be mixed so far. Some fans are upset at this happening and feel it somehow insults Gene Wilder’s memory so soon after his death. Others are surprised that the notoriously picky Dahl estate would back the project.
I’m a little ambivalent about this one. Studios are rushing to establish franchises and “cinematic universes,” but I’m not sure if the Charlie books have enough world-building in them to support it. And unlike the Potter example, we don’t have Dahl himself around to bless the extended canon. The author of the initial Variety piece speculated on Twitter whether Dahl had any unpublished writing about Wonka the screenwriter will be able to use. I’d be surprised if that were the case. (The only scraps I’ve ever seen were from excised chapters and later sequels that never got finished.)
What do you think? Are you excited about this project or wary?
From “The BFG” to “Matilda” to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” here’s how five Roald Dahl books became movies.