At the Venice Film Festival, director Wes Anderson’s film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” premiered.

In a press conference at the festival, Anderson was asked what he thinks about publishers removing “now-offensive language out of his work,” per The Guardian.

“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, per The Guardian. “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.”

“And certainly, no one who is not an author should be modifying somebody’s book. He’s dead,” Anderson said, per The Guardian.

Related
Authors react to ‘absurd’ changes to Roald Dahl’s children’s books to make them less offensive

Earlier this year, Puffin Books and the Roald Dahl Story Company worked with Inclusive Minds to make hundreds of edits to Dahl’s book, per the Deseret News.

“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,” a spokesperson for the Roald Dahl Story Company told The Washington Post.

Other artists reacted to the changes at the time. Salman Rushdie tweeted “Roald Dahl was no angel, but this is absurd censorship. Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed.” Rushdie has had his work banned in several countries and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against him, according to The New York Times.

The CEO of PEN America Suzanne Nossel tweeted at the time, per NPR, “Amidst fierce battles against book bans and strictures on what can be taught and read, selective editing to make works of literature conform to particular sensibilities could represent a dangerous new weapon.”

“Those who might cheer specific edits to Dahl’s work should consider how the power to rewrite books might be used in the hands of those who do not share their values and sensibilities,” Nossel said on Twitter, according to NPR.

What is ‘The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar’

Anderson responded to a question about editing Dahl in connection to the premiere of his latest short film.

Dahl’s “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” is about a rich man named Henry Sugar who likes to gamble (and sometimes cheats when he does). After reading about a man who can see without using his eyes, Imhrat Khan, Sugar sets out to meet him, so he can improve his ability to cheat at gambling.

This is not the first time Anderson has adapted a Dahl work. He directed an adaptation of “Fantastic Mr. Fox” in 2009.

Anderson’s “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Dev Patel, Ralph Fiennes and others, per The Guardian.

Related
Perspective: Roald Dahl and the giant controversy

Initial critics’ reviews of the film have been positive.

Critic Peter Debruge reviewed the film for Variety and said it is a better short film than every other film that has won the Oscar short category since Martin McDonagh’s “Six Shooter” released in 2006.

“His decision to frame this ‘Wonderful Story’ in an almost-square aspect ratio merely concentrates our attention on how his usual team of collaborators (most notably DP Robert Yeoman and production designer Adam Stockhausen) bring his vision to life,” Debruge wrote for Variety. “As much as this film bears Anderson’s fingerprints, it’s first and foremost a Roald Dahl project, to the extent that most of the DNA traces back to the author.”

The bottom line of Leslie Felperin’s review for The Hollywood Reporter was that the film was “small but perfectly crafted” and it might even win over those who are not fans of Anderson’s typical style of work.

“Like the rich food at restaurants aspiring to Michelin stars, every shot here might feel over-flavored for the Anderson-averse, prompting a sort of cinematic dyspepsia,” Felperin wrote for The Hollywood Reporter. “By that logic, the movie’s brevity (40 minutes) might make for a more digestible snack, so even Anderson-phobes will perhaps find in ‘The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar’ a perfectly well-balanced reduction. It’s got most of Anderson’s signature flavor notes but in healthy, clarified stock.”

The short film has a Sept. 27 release date on Netflix, per The Hollywood Reporter.