Wes Anderson’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1977 short story The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar landed on Netflix yesterday (September 27).
The 39-minute short, which tells the story of a rich man who tries to learn to see without opening his eyes, premiered in Venice in September and was described as “a truly gorgeous creation” by the Standard in its five-star review.
“For anyone who loved being read to as a child, or who was taken to the theatre for a children’s show, for those of us old enough to remember Jackanory, and for all who love being told an entertaining yarn brought vividly to life,” said the Standard. “This is the film for you.”
The short story had, according to Anderson, been set aside for him for decades. In an interview with Indie Wire he explained: “I knew Roald Dahl since before we made Fantastic Mr. Fox. I met Lindsay Dahl, his widow, when we were shooting The Royal Tenenbaums like 20 years ago.
“For years I wanted to do Henry Sugar. They set this story aside for me because I was friends with them... But by the time I was ready to do it, the Dahl family no longer had the rights at all. They had sold the whole deal to Netflix. Suddenly, in essence, there was nowhere else you could do it since they own it.”
Anderson’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar has Benedict Cumberbatch starring as Henry Sugar, and Ralph Fiennes playing Roald Dahl. Dev Patel, Ben Kingsley, Rupert Friend and Richard Ayoade also make up the cast.
How fans will rate the upcoming adaptation remains to be seen, so for now, we’re taking a look at how Anderson’s other films are ranked based on their IMDB rating.
11. Asteroid City (2023) 6.8/10
Despite having a starry cast (which included Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks and Steve Carell), being about aliens, pulling in some rather good reviews, and containing all of Anderson’s glorious signature film angles and eccentricities, Asteroid City received the lowest IMDB score of all of the director’s films.
10. Bottle Rocket (1996) 6.9/10
Anderson’s debut feature is perhaps his least typecast film, featuring little of the quirky set design he would later become known for. It stars Owen Wilson, in the first of several collaborations, and his real-life brother Luke Wilson in a comedy about friends who are determined to pull off a robbery despite their limited capabilities.
9. The French Dispatch (2021) 7.1/10
On the whole, Anderson’s films have an upward trajectory in how they have been received - but his latest effort was considered visually stunning if lacking in character progression. Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton and Adrien Brody are among the cast.
8. The Darjeeling Limited (2007) 7.2/10
Owen Wilson again stars, this time alongside Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody (two other familiar names), as three brothers travel across India to try and reconnect. The fantastic scenery on display was not enough for critics to overlook what was considered its narrative flaws.
7. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) 7.2/10
Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) leads a submarine crew (which also features a character played by Owen Wilson) taking revenge on a shark that has killed his partner. A stylish if claustrophobic adventure.
6. Rushmore (1998) 7.6/10
A teenager (Jason Schwartzman…again) is committed to his many hobbies until he develops a crush on his much older teacher. It’s one of Anderson’s smallest scale offerings but there is entertainment value in Schwartzman’s Max befriending an older intellectual, played by Bill Murray, and then trying to kill him after discovering his affair with said teacher.
5. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) 7.6/10
The first ensemble cast production features a dysfunctional family starring Owen Wilson and Bill Murray, of course, as well as Gene Hackman and Gwyneth Paltrow.
4. Isle of Dogs (2018) 7.8/10
Delightful animation and a whole host of A-list voice talent behind this adventure. The Japanese setting is a virtue and allows Anderson to pay tribute to Eastern cinema but the film did carry allegations of white saviourism.
3. Moonrise Kingdom (2012) 7.8/10
A conventional young love story on a Scout camp trip with beautiful backdrops somehow gives way to an action finale with Bruce Willis taking centre stage. Bill Murray is also involved.
2. Fantastic Mr Fox (2009) 7.9/10
Londoners might be less sympathetic to foxes than most, but it’s impossible not to root for the pack led by George Clooney. The animation also features Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman.
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) 8.1/10
Anderson’s take on the Second World War contains darker tones without losing the director’s trademark directorial touches. Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody are all on the cast but Ralph Fiennes gets top billing.
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is available now on Netflix