Transnationalism and the Chocolate Factory

With the growth of globalisation present in all different parts of the world it is only natural that film industries across the globe are becoming more trans-nationalised. The concept of transnational film occurs when there is a merging of various cultural identities within a certain film. Countries are becoming more concerned with producing a dominant film industry as they are not only worth a lot of money but also protect against cultural imperialism and assist in promoting a cultural identity on a global scale. However in order to assure their success many films have adopted elements from other cultures to make them more marketable on a global scale.

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Source: <http://www.timburtoncollective.com/charlie.html&gt;

Tim Burton’s “Charlie and the chocolate factory”, a remake of Mel Stuart’s “Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory” is an example of a film which has been impacted by the influence of transnationalism. Most people would consider it as an American film as the film is directed by Tim Burton, an American director, is produced and distributed by the American film company “Warner Brothers” and stars many American actors such as Johnny Depp, AnnaSophia Robb, Jordan Fry, and Missi Pyle. However, it was filmed predominantly in England, with a few location shots in America and Germany, also produced by Village Roadshow, an Australian company and represents multiculturalism within the cast through the following actors: Freddie Highmore (London), David Kelly (Ireland), Helena Bonham Carter (London), Deep Roy (Kenya), Julia Winter (Sweden) and Philip Wiegratz (Germany). The multiculturalism and diversity of the characters “Burton retains the nationalities which were assigned to the children in the first adaptation” (Leaman, 2014) has also been noted as contributing to the transnationalism of both Stuart’s original and the Burtons Remake.

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Source: <http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100319041952/charlieandthechocolatefactoryfilm/images/0/01/Chocolatepalace.jpg&gt;

There are aspects of various cultures scattered throughout the film which further enhances its transnationalism. The influence of India is clearly shown through the introduction of ‘Prince Pondicherry’ and his chocolate palace, which replicates the Taj Mahal, “…arguably the most recognizable Indian landmark for Western audiences.” (Schaefer & Karan, 2010) The strong Indian Influence within this scene is enhanced when the palace begins to melt, a drop of chocolate lands on the Princes forehead in between his two eyes, replicating the location of a traditional Bindi in Indian culture. This location is particularly sacred as it relates to the third eye, and has connections to the spirituality of prayer. This brings in the notion of cultural appropriation, the actor is an Indian man yet the context of the scene is not traditional. The chocolate Bindi is almost done with the intention of being humorous, this could be offensive to Indian culture which places high religious value on the Bindi.

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Source: <http://www.dougmoon.com/replacewithracism.jpg&gt;

“Prince Pondicherry” was not in Stuart’s original movie, “Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory” but was incorporated into Burton’s film. This can be attributed to the ‘Bollywoodization’ of the film in order to create a more Hybrid production that appeals to a wider audience on a global scale. This is a concept is explored by Schaefer and Karan in their paper “Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows”. They note that “The success of America’s highest-grossing foreign language film – Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (…) was attributed to hybridization” (Schaefer and Karan, 2010). However I believe that Hybridisation may not be successful if it is not done in a culturally appropriate way. The addition of cultural aspects may dis-courage an audience from that particular culture to consume the film if it is going to be offensive towards them.

Tim Burton’s film “Charlie and the Chocolate factory” successfully highlights the notion of transnationalism both on a production and content scale. Through analysing this film we are able to see the growing need to incorporate multiculturalism into our films and the impact hybridisation can have on cultural appropriation.

References

Leaman, T.M.B, 2014, ‘Changing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, pp. 5-24, viewed 3 September 2015, < http://skemman.is/is/stream/get/1946/18101/42449/1/Thor_Leaman_-_BA_Thesis$002c_Final_Submission.pdf&gt;

Schaefer, D. & Karan, K., 2010, ‘Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows’, pp. 309-317

2015, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, IMBD, viewed 4 September 2015, <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0367594/>

2013, ‘BINDI- Meaning and Significance of the “Dot” on forehead’, Sanskriti, viewed 4 September 2015, < http://www.sanskritimagazine.com/culture/bindi-meaning-and-significance-of-the-dot-on-forehead/>

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