Column: Slicing Score: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). Composer: Danny Elfman.

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[dropcap]S[/dropcap]now was a memorable backdrop present in the book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Ronald Dahl and the soundtrack to the 2005 film is a fanciful addition to wintertime music listening. It is easy listening that can accompany drawing, fixing a gate, washing a dog, or any activity requiring mellow and persistent concentration. In an interview included on the film’s DVD, Danny Elfman cited the different musical influences that shape the score. “Wonka’s Welcome Song” garnered a Grammy nomination for Elfman and lyricist John August. The other four melodies composed for the four unlucky children also have their respective charms.

Here’s a rundown of those four songs:

“Augustus Gloop”: This one creates a difficult standard for the rest of the soundtrack to live up to. It’s energetic and boisterous, and no other song matches its vibrancy. Some of the instrumental cues do capture the same intensity, though.

“Violet Beauregard”: This one is generous, with heavy funk accents that distract listeners from the repetitive tune. It reiterates too much of the music to “Augustus Gloop.”

“Mike Teavee”: What an angry piece of music. Some folks, including Elfman, compare it to the music of the rock band, Queen. Elfman’s versatile vocal abilities are further augmented here by his various technical manipulations of the track’s sound. It accompanies one of the most freakish scenes in the film.

“Veruca Salt”: This ditty is executed like an homage to Abba, with some Beatles-like sitar thrown in for extra flavor.

I won’t go over each instrumental cue on this soundtrack, but I will highlight a few that were outstanding:

“Main Titles”: A bizarre cue with a severely unlikable personality, much like the character of Willy Wonka, himself. It is unsettling because of its bevy of demonic and childlike voices.

“Loompa Land”: This one is a favorite of mine. It’s tribal, funny, disquieting, and infectious. These Oompa Loompas sound pugnacious. Elfman does not vocalize them to sound like the passive victims they were described as in the 1971 film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

“The Boat Arrives”: This one is fit for King Kong. It’s an instrumental cue that matches “Augustus Gloop” for mass and intensity.

“First Candy”: The menacing pipe organ sound is a nice touch in this one. It dramatizes a moment of destiny in the warped childhood of Willy Wonka.

“Finale”: The finale has a heavily layered sound and this piece opposes the menacing tone of the “Main Titles” nicely. The “Finale” creates a firm musical resolution to a film that is a hybrid of familial themes and feral undertones.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s soundtrack is available at: http://www.amazon.com/Charlie-Chocolate -Factory-Danny-Elfman/dp/tracks/B0009T250W/.

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