Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Book & Movie

by Ian Fleming (yeah, that Ian Fleming)
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

This movie is so different from the book. I gasped when I saw this children’s movie was two and a half hours as I didn’t believe the original story could fill it. Turns out it deviated so far from the story that it’s easy to see how it filled the time – and of course all the song-and-dance numbers helped extend the length too. In the book, the children and their (happily married) parents go on adventures in their magical new car, who does a lot of the work herself, to be perfectly honest. They end up being chased by thieves and the kids get kidnapped and foil the thieves’ attempt to rob a candy shop, and Chitty and their parents come at the end to whisk them away. In the movie, the single father and the candy-maker’s daughter chase each other around and the children hope they’ll get married. The grand adventure is a story told by the father and takes place in Bulgaria with strong bad-guys-are-Nazis overtones (the baroness hates children so they have to hide in the cellar and the soldiers come to take them away). The book was written in 1964 but takes place in the early 1900s, and the movie was made in 1968. The Nazi stuff likely will go over kids’ heads, though – overall, it’s a cute story and the songs are definitely catchy. Even the romance between Mr. Potts and Truly is extremely chaste, if a bit annoyingly hetero-normative and with old-fashioned gender roles, but that’s with modern eyes.

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