Timothée Chalamet was recently announced to star in a Willy Wonka origin story based on works from the antisemitic Roald Dahl.
Is this film really necessary? I’ll dive into my thoughts of the film, starring Timothée Chalamet, shortly. But before I do, let me talk about some of the other recent projects originating from Roald Dahl works.
When I first watched Steven Spielberg’s The BFG in 2016, many of us were just learning about Dahl’s antisemitic views. Spielberg himself didn’t even know about them until being asked during the Cannes press conference. Even upon watching the film, I didn’t really write a review of it. No, I commented on Dahl’s antisemitism and how Spielberg didn’t know about Dahl’s horrible views on Jews. I own many Spielberg films on physical media but The BFG is not one of them. Nor is it a film that I have any interest in revisiting.
More recently, Oscar-winning filmmaker Taika Waititi is set to direct two animated series for Netflix. That Waititi is even directing the series is a big SCREW YOU to Dahl. The project was announced last March. Waititi has referred to himself as a Polynesian Jew. During a previous interview, he acknowledged that “didn’t grow up in an actively practising Jewish household.”
Because of the pandemic, The Witches launched on HBO Max last year. I chose not to watch the film. If you want to read about the antisemitic tropes in the book, look no further than this article on Alma.
Timothée Chalamet will be playing a younger version of Willy Wonka in an origin story. The news was first announced on Deadline. Given Dahl’s antisemitic views, this is certainly not a film with my interest. Paddington director Paul King is currently on board to direct the musical. David Heyman is also producing through Heyday films. Heyman is no stranger to producing films based on problematic authors as he previously produced the Harry Potter franchise and subsequent spin-offs. If you recall, that franchise comes from a transphobic author, too.
Dahl’s estate only apologized last year for his antisemitism. If you ask me, it’s not the same thing when the apology comes from his descendants, which makes it harder for us to accept. It would have certainly meant more to see it coming from the man himself. Obviously, that’s not going to happen.
In a world where authors, filmmakers, and actors are continually held accountable for one thing or another, the estates of antisemites like Roald Dahl continue to profit despite their hatred. When will this end? Soon, I hope. I’m sure that Timothée Chalamet will do a fine job in living up to Gene Wilder’s legacy. However, I will not be watching the film. At the end of the day, I cannot in good conscience watch any works based on Roald Dahl’s books because of his antisemitism.