Skip

"One man, all Loompas: it takes some getting used to."
July 27, 2005 7:26 PM   Subscribe

"For every Deep Roy, there are a hundred and fifty of us who are forced to do wacked-out shit on 'The Man Show.' I'd like Tim Burton to tell me to my face what is the benefit of hiring one dwarf actor and computer-generating him when he could hire seven. We're standing at the gate and we're raising our hands and saying, 'Pick me!' And then Tim Burton comes out and says, 'I'm sorry, guys, go on home. We've got this machine that can do all your jobs.'"
posted by JPowers (43 comments total)

 
In ten years, every actor in Hollywood will have the same complaint.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:28 PM on July 27, 2005


shouldn't be so short.
posted by keswick at 7:52 PM on July 27, 2005


First off, no right to whine on this. Hollywood has never been and will never be fair in anyway to anyone at all.

Second off, What exactly are Tim Burton's feelings on labor? Watching the movie, it was hard to tell. Wonka wasn't really criticized for mechanizing his factory and putting grampa out on the street. And the oompa-loompas [slave laborers] were celebrated rather than used as satire.

Tho, I recall him saying that, when designing Halloween Town in "NItemare Before Christmas," he wanted it to be a purely working class town. No magic, just monsters.

If anything, there seems to be a slightly libertarian bent to his work. His movies are full of simple drones with a few freaks and heroes walking among them. Sort of Ayn Rand romanticism except actually romantic.
[/end fanboy tangent]
posted by es_de_bah at 8:16 PM on July 27, 2005


People are being forced to wacked-out shit on 'The Man Show?' Really?
posted by 4easypayments at 8:17 PM on July 27, 2005


What a bunch of complainers. I thought that Tim Burton's use of just one actor to play all of the Oompa Loompas was a pretty original idea, which plays in well with our imagination, and the often blatant repetition we've put up with in cartoons all our lives. Of course, they don't even mention that you don't hear Roy's voice in any of the songs and that it is actually Danny Elfman's morphed voice. What's it going to take for people to realize that Burton, Elfman & Depp (plus Roy, Bonham Carter, and all the other usual suspect) all enjoy working together and this was first and foremost a film for themselves?

In other news, the Coen Brothers will probably have either John Goodman, Steve Buscemi or John Turturro in one of their next movies, taking away the opportunity for an actor who hasn't had a chance yet. Wah wah wah....
posted by furtive at 8:23 PM on July 27, 2005


But none of those other 150 actors played horn for Max Rebo.
posted by jrossi4r at 8:24 PM on July 27, 2005


Well looking at Roy's IMDB resume, I would have to say that he's paid some dues in some stinkers.

I can see where the guy is coming from (the guy who bemoans the paucity of jobs for little people) but there are also a lot of bigger people who are not making it in movies either.

Plus it just ROCKS. . .
posted by Danf at 8:30 PM on July 27, 2005


Having all of the Oompa Loompas look alike was an aesthetic choice, not a labor shortcut. In the 1970s version of the movie, they tried to make all the O.L.'s look alike... Burton simply had the technology to make it work.

And for what it's worth, Roy was absolutely awesome in his multi-facted role. He also got paid a cool million for it (according to IMDB), more than a small role would usually pay, because of the hundreds and hundreds of hours required for him to perform iterations of every one of the multiple roles.

I don't know where everyone gets this "computer generated" shit from... every account I've read says that it's all Roy, just layered and copied and with some versions of himself repeated in the various scenes. The Oompa Loompas are much LESS computer-generated than Gollum was... the computers in "Charlie" just helped place a lot of Roy's hours of performances all in the same scene.

Also, this quote from the New Yorker article gives me pause:

"I did the little hop that Tom Jones does and moved my hips,” Roy said. “Tim loved it. He came up to me and said, ‘Did you know that I used Tom Jones in “Edward Scissorhands” ?’ ”

Burton cast Tom Jones in "Mars Attacks" (1996), not in "Edward Scissorhands" (1990). Did Deep Roy mishear him, or did Burton misspeak? I'd hate to think a New Yorker reporter tried to add a manufactured quote to his story for the sake of color, and screwed up the facts...
posted by BoringPostcards at 8:30 PM on July 27, 2005


And for what it's worth, Roy was absolutely awesome in his multi-facted role.

Saw the movie last week and have already forgotten the new songs and Roy.

The old oompa loompas are seared into my childhood brain.
posted by justgary at 8:52 PM on July 27, 2005


In ten years, every actor in Hollywood will have the same complaint.

Fair point, but it misses the main concern: Burton trades heavily on his reputation for weirdness, but when he had a chance to help folks who truly know what it's like to be shunned as "weird," he walked away from the opportunity by 1) choosing "child actors" or “some small, special ladies” - total yech - then 2) accepting Roy's idea to play all of the Oompa Loompas himself. Why not add a bit *more* humanity to the Oompas than we saw in the original? At the very least, it might have shut down Gene Wilder's complaint that the remake was all about money, as if the original film wasn't also all about corporate profit [beware pop-up]:

...the 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was bankrolled entirely by Quaker Oats as a promotional tie-in to the company's new line of Wonka-branded candy bars...Stuart showed the book to producer David L. Wolper, who by chance, had a meeting scheduled with the Quaker Oats Company, which happened to be looking for a vehicle to introduce a new chocolate bar. "He never quite read the whole book," remembers Stuart, "but he knew what the story was and he told them, 'I've got the perfect thing. It's a movie about a man who has a chocolate factory and makes Wonka bars. Give me the money to make this picture.'"

Oops. There goes some of that moral superiority, eh? But it's still interesting to compare Burton's decision to use one "little person" with Mel Stuart's thinking behind the original Oompas:

Stuart felt compelled to address a pair of racially motivated concerns that arose from Dahl's book. In the illustrations for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" the Oompa-Loompas were depicted as black, pygmy-like Africans, brought over to work for Mr. Wonka. "Some prominent black actors [Stuart declines to name names] came to see me and questioned me about having black Oompa-Loompas working for a white boss," he says. Already uncomfortable with the slavery-like portrayal, Stuart suggested making the Oompa-Loompa's an unusual color. "Right on the spot I said I would give them orange faces and green hair, and that's why they look that way," he says.

A second concern raised by the African-American actors was the title Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as "Charlie" was a common black expression for a white master. Potential controversy aside, Stuart preferred the title Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but that change had to be sanctioned by Dahl and Quaker Oats, among others. As an alternative, Margulies suggested The Candy Man, but that was rejected because "candy man" was slang for someone who deals in illicit substances. Much to Stuart's relief, all parties eventually agreed on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.


And Tim Burton couldn't be bothered - 34 years later - to use his version to help dwarf actors? I'm sorry, but that's just fucking bullshit. Especially for someone who trades in being "weird."
posted by mediareport at 8:58 PM on July 27, 2005


Soon, we will have a corporate owned AI to replace Tim Burton.


Tim will wind up on the streetcorner, with his tin cup, alongside all the Ooompa-Loompa would-be's consigned to the gutter by the relentless march of progress.
posted by troutfishing at 8:58 PM on July 27, 2005


I'd like Tim Burton to tell me to my face what is the benefit of hiring one dwarf actor and computer-generating him when he could hire seven. We're standing at the gate and we're raising our hands and saying, 'Pick me!' And then Tim Burton comes out and says, 'I'm sorry, guys, go on home. We've got this machine that can do all your jobs.'

Obviously, if you use CG dwarves, you don't have to deal with as many angry real-life dwarves. Seems straightforward to me.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:58 PM on July 27, 2005


Hollywood's unfair? You don't say. Funny how monstrous egos and unfairness seem to go hand in hand.

I had no interest in the remake, the trailers make it look positively awful. I lost alot of respect for Johnny Depp and I hope Roald Dahl visits him from the great beyond and makes him crap himself.
posted by fenriq at 9:01 PM on July 27, 2005


Burton cast Tom Jones in "Mars Attacks" (1996), not in "Edward Scissorhands" (1990). Did Deep Roy mishear him, or did Burton misspeak? ...

BoringPostcards
: I suspect Burton was probably referring to the Tom Jones song he used in Scissorhands. IIRC, the scene where Joyce tries to seduce Edward in the barber chair is set against "With These Hands".
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:02 PM on July 27, 2005




You lost a lot of respect for Depp for staring in a movie you haven't seen whose trailers look bad to you? All my crazed Dahl-devotee friends find the new one much more appealing and truer to the original, and the new additions are up to snuff. I've read Dahl, but not this one, so I can't say myself.

I thought the movie was excellent, and found the original boring. Then again, I'm much, much too young to have ever gotten the original in context, and I don't like candy anyway.

The effect of thousands of identical oompa loompas was wonderful. Should Burton have hired thousands of other actors and dubbed them over a couple of times, or hired seven more and dubbed them a few hundred times, or, or, or...? Since they were all CGI'd down to size anyway he could have just used any regular old joe, right?

mediareport: I'm interested in what you mean by "helping" these actors. How many more could Burton have added before the cumulative effect washed away individual recognition? Or are you talking about financial consideration, in which case, who really gives a damn?
posted by hototogisu at 9:23 PM on July 27, 2005


And Tim Burton couldn't be bothered - 34 years later - to use his version to help dwarf actors? I'm sorry, but that's just fucking bullshit.

Wait, it's now Tim Burton's job to personally make sure every group of actors in Hollywood is employed? Maybe he should spend his energy on MAKING GOOD MOVIES instead of making casting decisions just for the sake of making sure that the little people, dwarves, one-armed-men, bearded ladies, fat actors, ugly actors, skinny actors, hot actors, mediocre actors, and everybody else in Hollywood is somehow featured in his film.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 9:29 PM on July 27, 2005


As a fat, ugly, mediocre actor I'll take that.

Okay, I kid. I'm really sveldt, handsome, and a horrible actor. But still...
posted by djeo at 9:51 PM on July 27, 2005


thedevildancedlightly - didn't you know that Burton was the patron saint of diminutive thespians ?

I thought everybody knew that.
posted by troutfishing at 10:33 PM on July 27, 2005


"I had no interest in the remake, the trailers make it look positively awful. I lost alot of respect for Johnny Depp and I hope Roald Dahl visits him from the great beyond and makes him crap himself."

Actually, his wife, Felicity, is confident that he would have loved the newer movie (he hated the Stuart one), and I see no reason to doubt her intimate understanding of her husband.

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm hardly happy about that, since I thought the 70s one was genius and the new one crap. It reminds me of Stephen King, actually, who hated the original Shining movie, and especially Nicholson's performance in it, when both were instant classics, but loved the shitty 90s TV remake starring that loser from Wings, that was instantly forgettable.

Perhaps authors hate it when good artists "ruin" their work by overshadowing it with their own genius and unique voices in homaging it. Kind of like how R. Crumb hated the Zwigoff documentary about himself. I suspect artistic narcissists like it when they are homaged with shitty art, just like highschool "queen bees" who ensure that all their little worker queens are less attractive just to keep their own beauty contrasted all the more favorably.
posted by dgaicun at 10:47 PM on July 27, 2005


Well, so many of you seem to like the original so much I'll have to check it out one of these nights...
posted by hototogisu at 10:57 PM on July 27, 2005


dgaicun, they made a remake of the Shining? Wow, missed that one entirely.

hototogisu, the original movie came out at the right time in my life. I loved it and still do. Gene Wilder is Willy Wonka to me, Johnny Depp's version just isn't right. Maybe the movie is great, maybe Roald himself would prefer it. Maybe the trailers do a terrible job of conveying the real feel of the movie. But the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory I grew up with was lighter, funnier and alot less like a freakin' Goth asshole like Depp's trailer clips make him appear to be.

And I do not like my childhood memories to be rewritten.
posted by fenriq at 11:10 PM on July 27, 2005


Ahh, I can see that. I think I've only seen one of the trailers, and thought Depp was a dead ringer for my Aunt Julie. How could I not love that?

Gene Wilder just seems so much more...opiated, maybe? Yeah...
posted by hototogisu at 11:24 PM on July 27, 2005


". . . they made a remake of the Shining?"

Yes, you can judge something by its cover.
posted by dgaicun at 11:32 PM on July 27, 2005


mediareport: At the very least, it might have shut down Gene Wilder's complaint that the remake was all about money, as if the original film wasn't also all about corporate profit

Good analysis, except that Charlie is not a remake of Wonka. It's about like saying that the Branagh Hamlet a remake of the Gibson Hamlet. But I suspect that as we get further into the information age, and that picky little media of text shrinks further into the distance, that this is a Don Quixote battle. At any rate, calling Wonka, a movie that had no influence on the screenplay of Charlie the "original" is stupid, and criticizing Charlie in terms of Wonka is just plain lazy. There is more than enough lameness in both movies to hang each on their individual pretentions.

Spoilers

My personal take on it is that Charlie and Wonka are flawed in different ways. Charlie at least has the good sense to properly identify the real heroes of the story, the Bucket family, but then decides to, of all things, humanize Wonka. Even as a kid, I knew that Dahl was writing industrial faery tales, and that Wonka wasn't the human son of a dentist, but a faery in the tradition of Brothers Grim and Andersen. Wonka's world is ordered by faery law in which greed creates its own punishment. I felt a profound disappointment with that first flashback into the Wonka childhood, and normally, I'd like any excuse to put Christopher Lee into a film. It seems like screenwriter John August, missed the point of the Mike Teevee moral, and tried to find a way to explain everything.

And there was the profound disappointment of Elfman getting marvelous lyric material in the form of Dahl's moral poems, and overproducing the heck out of it. Just as Burton had too much fun with Roy, Elfman had too much fun with his own vocal arrangements, with the end result that you really couldn't hear the moral after it was set to music.

The '72 Wonka to my memory makes the mistake of pushing Charlie Bucket and Grandpa Joe off center stage, and the rest of the Bucket family into the wings. Three of the grandparents don't even get credited, which is a crying shame because the grandparents were one of the best parts.

Fenriq says, "And I do not like my childhood memories to be rewritten." Which probably explains why I have a profound antipathy for Wonka believe it or not, I didn't see Wonka until adulthood due to being too young to see it in the theatres, and not having access to videos of it until much later, and my reaction was a profound sense of being underwhelmed. Wilder just wasn't Wonka, being at least 2 feet to tall and not half as crazy. The Oompa Loompas embarassingly lame, and their poetry was pure drivel. The "Candyman" song gratuitous, unnecessary and my least favorite song from my childhood. Finally, little moral drama slipped into the conclusion baffling and also unnecessary.

Dep isn't Wonka either. But Freddie Highmore and David Kelly manage to make up the gap.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:44 PM on July 27, 2005


But to kick back from the derail. I'd like to see more Short-Statured people out of costume and into roles that did not necessarily need to be written around that fact. People like Michael Andersen and Peter Dinklage are just plain good actors.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:02 AM on July 28, 2005


I'd like Tim Burton to tell me to my face what is the benefit of hiring one dwarf actor and computer-generating him when he could hire seven.

Saving money, perhaps? Seems like an obvious benefit to me.

Like others, I found the use of one actor worked well for the movie. I think I actually used the word "genius" when I was in the theater.

And I know others have said this, but it bears repeating: Charlie is not a remake of Wonka. It's a truer telling of the Dahl book. I thought it was brilliantly executed.
posted by grey_flap at 2:42 AM on July 28, 2005


Burton also used Tom Jones in Big Fish, although perhaps not the singer from Pontypridd.
posted by John Shaft at 3:37 AM on July 28, 2005


I'd like Tim Burton to tell me to my face what is the benefit of hiring one dwarf actor and computer-generating him when he could hire seven.

How do you know there aren't dwarves using the CGI computers?

Stupidest thing I have read on here for ages.
posted by Frasermoo at 4:15 AM on July 28, 2005


And I do not like my childhood memories to be rewritten.

And I do not like it when someone else's childhood memories are taken as absolute and imposed on others. You know that the world kept churning out babies after YOU.

Just yanking your chain fenriq ;-)
posted by furtive at 4:50 AM on July 28, 2005


I thought Burton's use of identical Oompa Loompas was a creepy and fascinating artistic decision. Now, maybe if he had hired Deep Roy and dressed him up in different costumes and makeup to make him look like a hundred completely different people, this guy might have a point. Instead, it's just generic "computers will make actors obselete" whining, and although that argument does have merit, it's definitely not an issue unique to little people.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:43 AM on July 28, 2005


Instead, it's just generic "computers will make actors obselete" whining, and although that argument does have merit, it's definitely not an issue unique to little people.

Or actors, for that matter.
posted by TedW at 6:45 AM on July 28, 2005


I'm going to agree with most of what KirkJobSluder said. I thought Deep Roy's performance was great, although Elfman's musical bits did go a little too far to drown out the lyrics. I did, however, enjoy the Oompa Loompa portrayal in the Wilder film, but their musical parts (based on the Dahl dialogue) were the only music worth mentioning in the film. Why they made the whole thing into a musical, I have no clue. I still get shivers whenever I think of "Cheer up, Charlie" which is one of the worst songs to appear in any film, not just the Wonka one.

Did anyone else notice how symmetrical Burton's world is? To stay light on the spoilers, there are trucks and bicycles at the beginning that leave in a straight line, only to cut symmetrical paths in the snow as they branch off throughout the town. Having a hundred identical tiny men seemed perfectly normal.
posted by mikeh at 7:19 AM on July 28, 2005


Wooo, one Indian brother gets a million dollars and they already organise themselves?

< -- end of attempt at wit -->

PS: Haven't seen the movie, but did anyone else see the choice of Mr Roy as being a subtle statement on outsourcing?
posted by the cydonian at 7:20 AM on July 28, 2005


I've got to agree with Just Gary here. Deep Roy's Oompa Loompas were instantly forgettable, the songs were WAY overblown, and the lyrics lost in all the rah-rah Broadway nonsense. In many ways this version was truer to the book and I agree that it's always nice to see Christopher Lee in anything, but this was just too much. Too much CGI, too much noise, too overblown. I am so glad that my daughter has seen the original film before I took her to see this.

One scene that sums it all for me is Willy Wonka's entrance: in this newer film, it's delayed to build suspense (fair enough), and then we get this huge set piece with creepy puppets singing yet another inane song heralding the genius of Willy Wonka before bursting into flame and having *their faces melt off*. Ugh. In the original film, Wilder tops all this nonsense with a simple feat of acrobatics (his own idea apparently). It speaks volumes.

I like Tim Burton's films but there are nearly always marred by the participation of Danny Elfman IMHO.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:28 AM on July 28, 2005


If anything, there seems to be a slightly libertarian bent to his work.

Ack, don't ruin my good opinion of Tim Burton like that!
posted by Foosnark at 7:30 AM on July 28, 2005


furtive, that's not my chain and now I think we're dating. Sorry about the mess.
posted by fenriq at 7:59 AM on July 28, 2005


stinkycheese: I've got to agree with Just Gary here. Deep Roy's Oompa Loompas were instantly forgettable, the songs were WAY overblown, and the lyrics lost in all the rah-rah Broadway nonsense.

Well, I think that's my point. Broadway has always (until recently) been about the "rah-rah" supporting the great vocal performance. Think Julie Andrews, Robert Preston or Howard Keel. Elfman's adaptations for Charlie are just plain pop. His voice is OK in his own register but when fuzzed into a different register is incomprehensible.

I like Elfman when he's MORE broadway. "Face to Face" written for Siouxsie was the best part of Batman II, and I loved Nightmare before Christmas.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:27 AM on July 28, 2005


KirkJobSluder: I believe we are in agreement here. Your first post was spot-on.

On the topic of the 1971 film's Oompa Loompas, I thought this was quite interesting. From the IMDB:

This movie was shot in Germany. The producers had to go outside of Germany to recruit enough little people to play the Oompa Loompas. This was one of the many tragic legacies of the Nazi era. As the movie was filmed in Munich, Germany, many of the people cast as Oompaloompas were native to Germany or other European countries and therefore did not speak English fluently, if at all. This is why some appear to not know the words to songs during the musical numbers.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:36 AM on July 28, 2005


..with creepy puppets singing yet another inane song..

Since you just spoiled my favorite addition to the movie, I think I'll jump in to defend it. The wooden puppets were great! It was without a doubt the creepiest thing in the movie, proving to me that people actually understand how revolting the "It's a Small World" Disney attraction is. It was purposefully inane!

I'm assuming you're referring to Burton's film when you say "another inane song" which isn't quite right since all of the Oompa Loompa songs are crucial to the plot. If anything, they're essential and that's why it's a shame they weren't nearly as understandable with Elfman's arrangements.
posted by mikeh at 11:04 AM on July 28, 2005


"In the illustrations for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" the Oompa-Loompas were depicted as black, pygmy-like Africans, brought over to work for Mr. Wonka."

This isn't true. In the text, the Oompa-Loompas are described as having "rosy-white" skin and long "golden blond" hair. The illustrations reflect this (at least in the Knopf edition).

The backstory of them living in the jungle and their attire are reminiscent of "native" stereotypes, but they aren't written as looking like African pygmys. This may have been Dahl's intent, but he doesn't write it explicitely in the text.

Just like, he never says where any of the children are actually from... Augustus is never written as being German.
posted by unsweet at 9:50 AM on July 29, 2005


Actually, that's a newer version of the novel; the original printing he actually did describe them as (and they were illustrated as) Pygmys, but afterward, he was criticized for it, and realized it was a bit skeevy and weird, so he changed them to the opposite for all later editions. There's a few scans of the original books online -- took me a whlie, but here you go.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 11:25 AM on July 29, 2005


Ah... thanks Rev. I actually wondered slightly about that, but decided to chance the comment anyway. I figured someone would correct me if I was wrong.

Thanks for the scans.
posted by unsweet at 11:58 AM on July 29, 2005


« Older Model Vs. Photographer   |   Smart gateway to black lit Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post