Henry Sugar Is Just the First of Wes Anderson’s Roald Dahl Adaptations

This was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the works being covered here wouldn’t exist.

Ahead of its arrival on Netflix, Wes Anderson’s short (thirty-seven minute!) adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” made its debut this week at the Venice Film Festival—and was met with a four-minute standing ovation. But Henry Sugar is just one part of an anthology set of Dahl adaptations, and Anderson has confirmed the titles of the other three stories: “The Swan,” “Poison,” and “The Ratcatcher.”

Of the three, only “The Swan” also comes from the book The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More. At a Venice Film Festival press conference, Anderson said:

“We did a very old one called ‘Poison,’ which is one I always loved… And then we’ve also done a very, very strange one called ‘Ratcatcher,’ which is from a book called ‘Claud’s Dog,’ a kind of obscure Dahl book set in the Eastern part of England. It’s a really rural one, it’s a peculiar story. And they’re all strange. But I don’t really have any other ones in mind. I have some things brewing, but that might be it for Dahl for the moment.”

“Claud’s Dog” is also in itself a series of stories, of which “The Ratcatcher” is the first.

According to Netflix, these are somewhat unusual adaptations: “Anderson set out to adapt four of Dahl’s short stories in a bold and unpredictable way — with the cast reciting Dahl’s words directly to the audience while acting them out, and set pieces cycling in and out as if in a stage play. It’s a new perspective on Anderson’s signature aesthetic.”

“The Swan” and “The Ratcatcher” both feature Rupert Friend, who told Variety of the Dahl adaptations, “Wes took four of them and put together a smaller troupe of actors: myself, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dev Patel, and Richard Ayoade. We each play in around two of the stories and kind of change roles. I think Ralph might be in all of them.”

Previously, of course, Anderson adapted Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox into and Oscar-nominated, feature-length film. And while he may be done with Dahl for the moment, Netflix certainly is not: The streamer is adapting a whole pile of the author’s works, including not one but two Charlie and the Chocolate Factory series from Taika Waititi.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar will be in theaters on September 20th and on Netflix September 27th. The other three stories follow, one each day: The Swan on September 28th, The Ratcatcher on September 29th, and Poison on September 30th.

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