The best movie adaptations of books by Roald Dahl

These movies are flawless, Dahl-ing!
Roald Dahl was an absolute genius. No, seriously! He wrote some of the greatest kids books of all time, and it just so happens that movies based on his books are kind of awesomesauce. The Witches is the latest of Roald Dahl’s frankly magical musings to get the big screen treatment – it stars Anne Hathaway, Stanley Tucci and Octavia Spencer, and is based on one of Dahl’s most fantastical works. But what other films based on his books are worth watching?

The Witches


There’s a new, and brilliant, adaptation of Roald Dahl’s frightening and wonderful book The Witches coming out, starring Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch. But back in 1990, an entire generation of kids were scared witless by Anjelica Huston playing Roald Dahl’s most frightening and fiendish villain! The Witches is all about a kid whose grandma takes him to the seaside for a holiday… but the resort they’re staying in happens to be housing a Witch convention. The Witches is an absolute classic (and we can’t wait for Robert Zemeckis’ reimagining)!


Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory


No, we’re not talking about the frankly creepy Tim Burton remake. The OG Willy Wonka movie is, straight up, the perfect film to watch if you’ve lost faith in humanity. Based on his bestselling book, it follows Charlie Bucket, a poor kid (literally – his four grandparents share a bed, which is a whole other level of impoverished). Charlie wins a golden ticket to visit the elusive, unseen chocolate factory of mad genius Willy Wonka, played by the sublime Gene Wilder, and what follows is just about one of the nicest movies ever made. Fun fact: many people believe that Willy Wonka is a time lord, like in Doctor Who. Think about it! He employs aliens (Oompa-Loompas), he has a box that can magically fly (his glass elevator), and his factory seems bigger on the inside.


Matilda


Believe it or not, the iconic Matilda is also based on a wonderful book by Roald Dahl. Matilda is the perfect story for kids who feel like they’re a little different. Sure, Matilda has phenomenal psychic powers and is abnormally smart, but it’s also about her finding adults who she can actually trust. Miss Honey is every amazing teacher you’ve ever had rolled into one, and the evil Miss Trunchbull is the exact opposite. For many, Matilda is the film that defined their childhoods.


Fantastic Mr. Fox


What happens when you combine the hipstery wizardry of Wes Anderson, the dulcet tones of George Clooney and stunning stop-motion animation? An incredible adaptation of a Roald Dahl classic, that’s what! Fantastic Mr. Fox boasts the voice talents of Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Meryl Streep, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon, Adrien Brody, Brian Cox… the list goes on and on. The film itself is a smart, deep and whimsical take on the Dahl novel, and really does prove that animated masterpieces can be made for adults, too.


James and the Giant Peach


More animation, but this time around, we’re talking part live action, part stop-motion. As with all good Roald Dahl tales, this one tackles a really nice kid being beaten down by oppressive, awful adults. The adults in question are Aunt Spiker (Joanna Lumley) and Aunt Sponge (Miriam Margoyles), and the kid is the titular James, who ends up escaping inside a giant peach and making incredible friends along the way. We’re getting goosebumps just thinking about how epic this adventure is.


What to read next

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The Devil Wears Prada

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Who Framed Roger Rabbit

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