Soundtrack Review: Charlie & The Chocolate Factory

Tim Burton once again collaborates with composer Danny Elfman in his remake of Roald Dahl’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As you first begin to listen, you could be forgiven for mistaking the soundtrack as the latest album by the Oompa Loompas, with five musical numbers at the beginning. The soundtrack starts off with the ‘Welcome Song’ which greets the visitors of the factory when they first arrive. Unlike in the movie however, the over-enthusiastically happy song manages to finish in full without any mishaps.

Following that are four songs named after each of the children who fail to make it to the end as a result of their unfortunate accidents brought on by their own greed. Augustus Gloop’s song is given a brass led Bollywood style, whilst Violet Beauregarde gets the 70’s rap-pop treatment. For Veruca Salt a softer rock ballad is used whereas a more high tempo rock song is used for Mike Teavee. Combined with the choreography of the Oompa Loompas, the songs provide some of the more energetic and entertaining moments in the movie. Adapted from Roald Dahl’s original lyrics, the songs are made more interesting by Danny Elfman’s decision to give the Oompa Loompas a wide range of voices, although in reality they were all sung by Elfman himself.

After the Oompa Loompa songs have finished, the soundtrack moves on to Danny Elfman’s orchestral score beginning with the ‘Main Titles,’ which introduces us to the main recurring theme. The track proceeds with a mechanical percussion rhythm interspersed with choral bursts. The introduced theme evokes a sense of mystery and wonder whilst being strange and weird at the same time.

Further influences by the Oompa Loompas can be heard in track such as ‘Chocolate Explorers,’ ‘Loompa Land,’ and parts 1 and 2 of ‘The River Cruise’ where the score is accompanied by their chanting and humming voices.

In the track ‘The Indian Palace,’ where Wonka remembers how he built a palace entirely out of chocolate, Elfman makes use of some Eastern influences as well as introducing us to the somber theme given to Wonka towards the end. This theme is later reprised in another flashback track ‘First Candy,’ in which Wonka reminisces about his childhood. The various flashback scenes in the movie are given their own soft motif, as heard in ‘Wonka’s First Shop.’

Whilst the character Charlie doesn’t get his own Oompa Loompa song, he does get his own soft cue led by strings and fragile piano notes. The cue, which is first introduced in ‘Charlie’s Birthday Bar,’ is reprised later on in ‘Charlie Declines’ and ‘Finale.’

The soundtrack finishes off with the ‘End Credit Suite’, which comprises of the first five songs in karaoke music-only form.

Danny Elfman’s score for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory captures the mood of the story, conveying the excitement and wonder as well as the strangeness of Wonka’s factory. Together with the songs by the Oompa Loompas, the score is enjoyable and entertaining enough to make you want to come back to it again.

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