Wes Anderson’s collection of short adaptations of Roald Dahl short stories comes to Netflix later this month, and we’ve got a trailer for the first of them! The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is about a man who can see without using his eyes. It’s also a film with a particular approach to adaptation.
Earlier this month, Netflix explained part of the conceit of these shorts: “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 now we get to see the result, which is sort of like if a person made a movie and a very fancily cast audiobook at the same time.
It is, in a way, the most Anderson concept possible, formally inventive yet sort of distancing at once. The actors—including Benedict Cumberbatch, Dev Patel, Ben Kingsley, and Richard Ayoade—speak both lines of dialogue and lines of description that are, presumably, straight from Dahl’s text. They’re narrating as they’re appearing in the scenes they are narrating, and they’re staring straight into the camera with every word in this trailer. It’ll be quite interesting to see how it works in the full film.
The 37-minute The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar will be in theaters on September 20th and on Netflix September 27th. Three more adaptations follow, one each day: The Swan on September 28th, The Ratcatcher on September 29th, and Poison on September 30th.
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.