Ronald Dahl (1916 - 1990) was a British author who wrote 19 children‘s books over his decades-long writing career. His most popular works were James and the Giant Peach (1961) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964). He’s been called “one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th century.” Adults have loved his work as well. In 1977, Dahl wrote a short story titled The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Now this fantasy has been made into a film written, co-produced, and directed by Wes Anderson who was also at the helm of an adaptation of Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. The new film is being presented on Netflix as one of a four-part series of shorts from Dahl’s stories, including The — Rat Catcher, The Swan, and Poison. (See summaries below.)
“Everything that happens is either a blessing which is also a lesson, or a lesson which is also a lesson.”
— Polly Berrien Berends
Henry Sugar (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a wealthy man who inherited a fortune and has never worked a day of his life. We learn his story from Ronald Dahl (Ralph Fiennes), seen in his writing room.
Henry enjoys gambling and spends time in casinos. One day he comes across a book with a doctor’s report about Imdad Khan (Ben Kingsley), a gifted man who has the ability to see and interact without using his eyes. He performs in a traveling circus to make money.
It turns out that Imdad has learned his skills from a Great Yogi (Richard Ayoade); he has mastered the ability to meditate and to levitate his body. Henry, who has always been interested in magic, spends three years learning the Yogi’s meditation methods until he is able to see through the backs of playing cards and even predict the future.
“Everything’s got a moral, if you can only find it.”
— Lewis Carroll
Henry travels the world winning money from casinos. Although he still maintains his love of blackjack, he is unhappy with the greed of other gamblers. Suddenly, the thrill of winning begins to fade away. He comes up with a strange solution: tossing handfuls of money from his balcony to random people on the London streets below.
This surprising transformation changes his character and sets him on a new path. Here are some spiritual perspectives on the astonishing finale of The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar:
"The fear of going too far keeps us from going far enough."
— Sam Keen
"The time is always right to do right."
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible."
— St. Francis of Assisi
"The truth is, we’re all chosen, most of us just forget to RSVP."
— Sarah Ban Breathnach
"We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand . . . and melting like a snowflake. Let us use it before it’s too late."
— Marie Beynon Ray
Other Films in this Series:
The Rat Catcher: In an English village, a reporter (Richard Ayoade) and a mechanic (Rupert Friend) listen to a rat catcher (Ralph Fiennes) explain his clever plan to outwit his prey.
The Swan: A narrator (Rupert Friend) tells the story of a young boy, Peter Watson (Asa Jennings) who is harassed by two vicious, heartless, gun-armed bullies. Peter loves birds, and his torment is heightened when the bullies aim their gun at a beautiful swan (Rupert Friend).
Poison: When an Englishman (Benedict Cumberbatch) has a poisonous snake lying on his stomach, his associate (Dev Patel) and a doctor (Ben Kingsley) race to save him.