Before the release of The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, Wes Anderson has defended the late writer amid the ongoing censorship row.
The 37-minute-long film is set to arrive on Netflix on October 13th. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, Dev Patel, Sir Ben Kingsley, Richard Ayoade, Rupert Friend and Asa Jennings. Like Dahl’s 1977 book of short stories, the movie follows several mini-narratives, including Dahl’s journey to becoming a writer.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that Puffin planned to edit out any language deemed offensive from Dahl’s works. The book publishers teamed up with a sensitive literacy advocacy group called Inclusive Minds to alter Dahl’s novels and remove any potentially problematic passages.
In a statement, the Roald Dahl Story Company previously said: “When publishing new print runs of books written years ago, it’s not unusual to review the language used alongside updating other details including a book’s cover and page layout.”
They added: “Our guiding principle throughout has been to maintain the storylines, characters, and the irreverence and sharp-edged spirit of the original text. Any changes made have been small and carefully considered.”
Now, Anderson has weighed into the debate. Speaking at a press conference at the Venice Film Festival, the director said art shouldn’t be touched once it has been completed, stating “when it’s done, it’s done.”
“I’m probably the worst person to ask about this because if you ask me if Renoir should be allowed to touch up one of his pictures, I would say no. It’s done,” Anderson said ahead of the premiere of The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.
“I don’t even want the artist to modify their work. I understand the motivation for it, but I’m in the school where when the piece of work is done we participate in it. We know it. So I think when it’s done, it’s done,” he continued.
Anderson added: “And certainly no one who is not an author should be modifying somebody’s book. He’s dead.”