The film is based on a much-loved children's book, 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory', by Roald Dahl. Dahl wasn't always happy with the changes made between his book and the film, and wasn't always consulted on them. Today probably more people are familiar with the film sequence of events than the book. Charlie is a down-on-his-luck boy who is nonetheless optimistic and happy. He and his mother work to tend for their bed-ridden family members, all living together in a one-room home.
One day there is an annoucement that Wonka is going to open his factory to visitors, to be chosen more or less at random through finding the Golden Tickets, contained in Wonka bars (a brilliant marketing device back then). Scenes of shoppers' frenzy are shown all around with world, including a Wonka delivery van shown arriving at the White House.
The five golden tickets are found all around the world - the first one in Dusselheim, Germany, by the fat boy, Augustus Gloop (played by Michael Boliner, who is now a tax accountant in Munich, and is still rather large). The second ticket was found in the UK, by spoiled brat, Veruca Salt (Julie Dawn Cole, the only Wonka child still acting), whose father, Roy Kinnear, is a well-known actor in British cinema. The third ticket was found in the USA, by gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde (Denise Nickerson, now an accountant at a nuclear plant in Colorado), whose used-car-salesman father was played by Leonard Stone (who was selected over Jim Bakus). The fourth ticket was also won in the USA, by Mike Teevee (Paris Themmen, considered a real brat by most of the cast and crew); his frantic mother was played by Dodo Denny (later Nora Denny), who was one of the few minor characters in the film to consistently act after this film. The final ticket at first is reported to be won by some shady businessman from Paraguay, but in the end, that is proven to be a forgery. Of course, Charlie buys a Wonka Bar expecting nothing, and gets the ticket.
An ominous figure, Slugworth (the arch-enemy of Wonka - who knew chocolate makers also made arch-enemies?), appears to each of the winners, whispering in their ears. Charlie is also confronted, and promised a reward should he bring Slugworth an example of Wonka's latest creation, the Everlasting Gobstopper. One wonders why (a) any candy maker would make a candy that never wears out (thus defeating re-sales), and (b) why Slugworth can't just buy one himself when they are released, analyse it and ruin his own factory the same way? But I digress... Gunter Meisner, a very prolific German actor, played the villain, who wasn't in the book (nor was the 'gobstopper plot').
The grand day of the event, the winners enter the factory with great fanfare, meeting Wonka (Gene Wilder) for the first time, and get the first taste of his bizarre sense of theatre. (It is reported not only Wilder's idea for the limping/somersault introduction to the crowd, but also a condition of his accepting the role.) From that point on, what was truth? It is ironic that Wonka's entrance doesn't occur until the film is half over. What we remember of the film comes after this, but over half the film is actually set-up. This is rather like the Wizard of Oz, where most of the film is done before we see 'the major character', although admittedly Wonka is far more prominent than Oz's balloonist.
Wonka, the man of mystery, only ever became even more of a mystery as the tour progressed. He is constantly switching his words ('we have so much time and so little to do'), and there are surprises at every turn. Wonka borrows a lot of his key phrases (Ogden Nash, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde) and there are a lot of fantasy-inspired elements (Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings).
At each major scene, something ghastly seems to happen, but in epic-fantasy form, it doesn't seem to matter to the majority, who proceed onward with their quest. In the chocolate room, Augustus Gloop meets his untimely exit from the factory by falling in the chocolate river. Violet turns into a blueberry by chewing experimental gum, and has to be squeezed (squoozed?). Veruca, in the room with the geese who lay the golden eggs, turns out to be a bad egg herself, but has a sporting chance of going down a chute with an inactive furnace. Mike Teevee shrinks in the Wonka version of the Star Trek transporter beam, leaving in the end only Charlie, who is denied his prize of a lifetime of chocolate for a minor infraction.
It would seem that Wonka had a sinister side in many ways - the boat that carries the prize winners only seated eight, implying that Wonka knew someone would be missing. The Wonkamobile only had seats for four guests. Of course, the children apparently all had sinister sides, too, including Charlie, until the end. None of them let Wonka know of their Slugworth contact.
In the end, we never know what becomes of the fallen questers - we are led to believe that in this candy factory they got their just desserts. The Oompa-Loompas put the moral to each downfall in song, with a 1970s karaoke-type presentation of the lyrics as they sing. In the end, of course, goodness and justice win out, as the factory is given to Charlie after his act of unwarranted kindness toward Wonka.
Director Stuart always saw this film as a 'realistic' fantasy film. Those things that are not over the top are very ordinary. The people are not superheroes, and the situations, while fantastic, are not beyond the credible. Stuart also did his best for 'real' reaction - the kids had never seen Gene Wilder before his appearance at the door, the chocolate room in the factory, or the Oompa-Loompas prior to the first scene, either, so their reactions are more natural.
A great film for children and adults!
on June 15, 2004
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" was my favorite book as a child, this movie remains a favorite of mine even to this day.
This film was made back in 1971 and is very simple in its style. The special effects are see-through and campy but the story line is a facinating metaphor for life that is forever timeless in its message. Willy Wonka is the creative genius who becomes a recluse in his chocolate factory because of society and its greed and malice. But he never loses his belief that someone in the world exists who can still believe in imagination and dreams. He finds this person in Charlie, a poor child who lives with his mother and four grandparents in a dirty basement home. Charlie has every reason to become dispirited and negative yet he remains a shining light of great positivity regardless of his circumstances. I suspect his attitude comes from the fact that his Grandfather Joe always supports his dreams, the boy never has to hear the word "can't"!
The chocolate factory holds a contest and several children, including Charlie, get invited behind the doors with Willy Wonka. While on tour they are tested with fame, fortune, greed and honesty until one by one they succumb to the failure of a human heart. All except Charlie, who keeps a smile on his face and wonder in his eyes while being faced with the simple adversities that cause the other children to fail. Sadly I feel the parents are to blame creating children who thrive on material wealth, constant TV watching, gorging on food, and looking for constant attention. The parents of the children who fail refuse to believe in the dream of Willy Wonka surrounding the atomsphere with doubt and negative beliefs. How could anyone survive under such circumstances?
The Chocolate Factory is filled with wonder, color and silly songs. Regardless of your age it will satisfy your sweet tooth and fill even a hardened heart. It certainly brings to life how parent's affect their children with their own actions and attitudes. Telling a child they "can't" accomplish all that they imagine only assists in stopping the world from greatness. Don't be afraid to dream!
Well Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory Fans.......This truly is an Ultimate Collector's Set. You are getting your money's worth with this set, and you will not be disappointed.
First of all, this set includes not only the Blue Ray transfer presented in 1080p High Definition 16X9 Dolby True HD 5.1,Dolby Digital English 5.1, & French, but includes the DVD transfer as well as a 3rd disc full of hours of extras.
Extras include New interviews with director Mel Stuart, a recently rediscovered archival featurette that includes an interview with late author Roald Dhal. A documentary called "Pure Imagination, Commentary with the Wonka Kids, 4 sing-along songs, a vintage 1971 theatrical trailer, and much more.
- A 144 page full color book about the making of the film.
- A Special separate folder that contains 14 pieces of Wonka production correspondence, including a copy of a hand written letter from Gene Wilder to the director Mel Stuart, as well as copies of the letters sent out to the actors telling them they have been casted.
- Your very own "GOLDEN TICKET" just like in the film, & A collectable Wonka Bar tin with a chocolate scented eraser inside, as well as 4 scented pencils (Blue Berry Pie, Banana, Snozzberry, & Hair Cream. The eraser and the pencils come in their own individual plastic wrapping so you can keep them in mint condition & preserved if you like....or you can have fun and actually use them.
Hands down the coolest collectors set I own.
Make sure to check out the photos I have added to product description.
on May 16, 2004
Negative comparisions to the Roald Dahl text notwithstanding, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" is the last really great movie musical. It's miles beyond the motion-sickness-inducing "Moulin Rouge" or the thighs-in-your-face "Chicago" and has the charm to delight even the least imaginative of us. The beauty of the film is how well it balances adult cynicism with youthful hope--Dahl's satirical subtexts of European colonialism and slavery (as witnessed by the greed of just about everyone involved and the predicament of the Oopah Loompahs, respectively) are virtually indetectable for children wowed by the colorful production design and memorable songs. So are the swipes against the Germans, common in British films. But the core of the story revolves around Charlie Bucket, the poor but kind-hearted boy whose bleak life with his struggling single mother and invalid grandparents is punctuated only by the occasional ray of sunshine. That he finds the last ticket to compete for a lifetime supply of chocolate is deserved; that he wins against a gaggle of spoiled, obnoxious children that represent the worst of humanity is inevitable. Peter Ostrum and Jack Albertson are terrific as Charlie and Grandpa Joe, respectively, and Gene Wilder inhabits the wily but world-weary Wonka wonderfully. Children (and some adults) sometimes becry the darkness of some scenes, as well as Wilder's often biting reactions to them, but they miss the point: Wonka seeks genuine kindness and decency in a landscape populated mostly by avarice and deceit. To find an heir that possesses such qualities, he must present both the beautiful and the ugly, and act both the benefactor and the villain. It is only through witnessing their reactions--and the rotten kids are never put off by the horrible things they see and do--that he can discover which of them deserves to inherit his fortune. Great songs and uncomplicated special effects add to the air of fantasy that makes this film a winner.
on March 13, 2004
(Spoiler included) I watched this movie on TV for rhe first time when I was 6 years old and I haven't outgrown it since! It is a wonderful story about the power of imagination and how good things eventually come to those who do the right things.
The movie is based on the Roald Dahl book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Willy Wonka is an eccentric candy maker who starts a contest offering a factory tour to five lucky winners who find a golden ticket in their Wonka bars. One of them is Charlie Bucket, an impoverished, but good natured, child who hopes for a better future for himself, his mother and his four grandparents. The other four winners are nasty obnoxious and bratty children. Augustus Gloop is an overeating glutton, Violet Beauregard is a gum chewing fanatic with no manners (digging up her nose while talking about how disgusting spitting is), Veruca Salt is a spoiled brat who wants everything she sees and whines until she gets it and Mike Teavee is a television addict with a smart mouth. One by one, they are eventually done in by their bad habits. Augustus falls into the chocolate river against Wonka's protests and is sucked into a pipe, Violet chews a piece of Wonka's "meal gum," once again against his objections, and turns purple and blows up into a giant blueberry, Veruca goes on a tantrum when Wonka tells her she can't have one of his giant geese and she falls down a garbage chute and Mike wants to be on television so badly, he willingly gets zapped into the size of an insect by Wonka's TV camera. Charlie, by being the respectable child that he is and by not compromising his integrity, not only completes the tour, he wins a prize beyond his wildest dreams.
The parents make it obvious why their children are so impish. When the children get into trouble at the factory, the parents blame Wonka instead of the kids' own bratty behavior. From the moment they step into the factory, they're complaining and finding fault with everything Wonka does and they take things way too seriously (much like the critics of this film)! I bet if the Oompa Loompas, with their wisdom, raised these little demons, they'd be much better.
Don't miss this film. It is not only a fun to watch diversion from reality, the messages are very timely and it makes you think about the good that still exists in this world. The critics and nitpickers may not get it but anyone who watches with an open mind and doesn't take it too seriouly will.