Wes Anderson seemingly can’t put a foot wrong. The esteemed director behind The Grand Budapest Hotel broke pandemic box office records in 2021 with The French Dispatch, and this year, he cemented his stellar filmography even further with the critically acclaimed Asteroid City. But while we’ve gotten used to waiting years for Anderson flicks, the filmmaker is looking to strike whilst the iron is hot, with his Netflix adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, set to arrive later this year.
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is a collection of seven short stories Dahl published in 1977, taken from the name of one of the short stories within it. It seems like the film itself will make use of that format, with the same collection of actors playing characters in three short films, based on stories within the collection, before the film ends on the titular film. Confused? We are too.
What’s more, one of the programmers at Venice Film Festival, Emanuele Rauco, told viewers of a now-deleted YouTube clip that the film was “not adapted through a screenplay, it is chosen by the characters. The actors in it act almost as if they are in a stage play, the cast reads out the story, sometimes to the camera which reminded me of the theatre.” So Wes Anderson has filmed some monologues? Not quite. “However it is not just a theatre reading,” Emanuele added. “Inside of it can be found cinema.”
The plot of The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is loosely based on the story of Kuda Bux, a man Dahl wrote a non-fiction feature on before working on his own adaptation. It tells the story of a gambler, Henry Sugar, who crosses paths with a blind man with his eyes sewn shut who learns to see through other means.
Apparently, it’s Dahl’s satirical take on his own critics who made a point of his nastiness throughout his career. It’s also one of his stories that’s intended for older children, so expect Anderson to take slightly darker turns with it.
Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, Dev Patel, Ben Kingsley, Rupert Friend and Richard Ayoade are just some of the names appearing in the film.
Of course, Wes is no stranger to Dahl’s stories. Back in 2009, he famously transformed the author’s fairytale, Fantastic Mr Fox, into a stop-motion classic starring George Clooney and Meryl Streep.
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is set to have its world premier at the Venice Film Festival in September, before releasing in full on October 13th on Netflix.