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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!
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on July 7, 2004
OK, I know you are saying to yourself, that movie is ancient ~ my kid wouldn't enjoy it. Well, trust me your kid will enjoy it. It is a great movie! For all who may have missed it over the years (is there anyone out there?), the story is about a giant chocolate factory run by a never seen owner (Wilder). Over the years of the factory's operation he has become quite the legend. He decides to open the factory to a few lucky winners of a contest ~ all but one of the winning kids are truly rotten. And as all good stories go, the bad kids get their just "desserts" (sorry, couldn't resist the pun) leaving the good kid to win. A lot of good lessons taught about sharing, greed, gluttony and theft. Pop some popcorn and enjoy it with your kid; you'll be glad you did.
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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.
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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!
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on June 8, 2014
Words cannot even describe the feeling of sharing one of your all time childhood favourites with your own beautiful child! Such a great storyline and amazing characters! Add some of your own favourite wonka treats and popcorn and believe or not had a room full of 4 year olds captivated by something other than "Frozen"!! The best part; I even use the Oompa Loompa songs as conversation starters to reaffirm the "house rules" or morals we already teach our daughter 😄 this movie EVERY parent should sit down and watch with their children just classic on soo many levels!
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on January 23, 2002
As an alternate choice I have always preferred "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" to the overt chumminess of "Wizard of Oz". So it's nice that Warner Brothers decided to compliment an exceptional Wizard DVD with the re-release of Willy Wonka on it's own well made disc. For awhile there was only the standard and rather lame anniversary release of Willy Wonka on DVD and because of a "limited" release it became hard to find and expensive! So finally the brains at WB came to their collective senses to put out a new and much improved edition. The transfer and sound alone are a vast improvement over the original yet it still retains its 1971 ambiance by not over-digitizing unnecessary effects: ala Star Wars. Getting the wide screen version you discover what terrific photography a wide screen lens (if used properly) can do for children's cinema. Instead of getting obnoxious close ups we can get a full view of the terrific art direction which in this case is, well....pure imagination! The extras are simply great. A solid reunion documentary highlights the disc along with other goodies including the original featurette, sing along songs, original trailer and Wonka kids commentary. The doc. is a bit on the sappy side but it does shed some good light as to why, and how the movie was made. If any thing it's a trip to gander at the whole Wonka kid cast grown and hear them reminisce about filming. Although a person can't complain about the edition disc except that it is done too much for kids. Understandable but this "children's" film more than any other seemed to have a slight twist to the realm of adult. Especially given it's overt psychedelic moments and presumed dark demise of spoiled kids. Also it generally had ironic moments that played against it's own cutesy childish genre like Charlie Bucket (in the hurried and chaotic boat ride scene) suggesting that the film would make a great TV show. No where is this more evident than with Gene Wilder's on and off the brink performance as Willy Wonka. Arguably his best ever. His inspiring line "So shines a good deed in a weary world." can still make the cruelest most jaded heart in the toughest cell block feel like choking up. If you have a DVD collection and own "Wizard of Oz" it should be law that you have "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" as well. If not, that funny feeling you have is simply not being a complete person!
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on December 31, 2001
I'm one of those people that wonders whatever happened to child actors of my favorite movies. This movie definitely caters to that curiosity. The new featurette has interviews with all the actors talking about what it was like to make the film and what they've been doing since. There's also a touching interview with Gene Wilder in that featurette. I had a delightful surprise with the running commentary! It's all the kids from the movie together for the first time! They share interesting stories about filming the scenes and seem to be having a great time with some good-natured teasing. The guy who was Augustus doesn't seem to talk much - I'm not sure if he understood what everyone was saying - or maybe he just doesn't speak much. I get a feeling that those kids really WERE playing themselves from the commentary. It adds a fun dimension to the film but I tend to like the commentary features on DVDs. I think the commentary's my favorite part.
The sing along does not have the popular "Candy Man" song, which is a bummer, but it also doesn't have that maudlin "Cheer up Charlie" song - always had to fast forward through that one. It does include the corresponding scenes with the songs but doesn't always have the words at the bottom: "I've got a Golden Ticket" with Grandpa Joe, "World of Pure Imagination" with Willy Wonka, "I Want it Now" with Veruca Salt, and the Oompa Loompa song that came after Veruca fell down the eggdicator.
All in all it's a fun DVD. Only complaint is its not widescreen. But I've really been enjoying all the features.
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on October 27, 2003
Ive noticed that the boat ride scene in Willy Wonka is catching alot of negative flak from reviewers, many calling for it to be removed. Im tired of folks always wanting to censor and remove anything that can be remotely construed as offensive or damaging to children. Although its a scary scene, I saw this as a child and was not traumatized by it, maybe your kids are just wussies! I believe the scene was shot to add a dimension of danger to Wonka's world and truth be told, a dose of fear in children is healthy, not the kind of violent axe murderer stuff but the old fashioned fear of death or the unknown. Fear keeps kids in line and lets them know there are boundaries and repercussions, not everything in life is peachy keen and chocolate covered. I dont think the boat ride scene was made to scare the crap out of kids but just as a psychedilic freak out, it gets their minds working. Its a magical, mysterious, bizarre scene that is true Hollywood magic and Im glad to find that its still included despite the controlling, revisionist, sissyphied parents of today who want to shelter their kids from everyting and end up creating their own monsters who fear nothing, worry about nothing, and care about nothing. On another note, Gene Wilder is just fantastic in this movie, one of the all time best characters ever!
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on May 11, 2002
This is a movie that every child born thirty to forty years ago will remember growing up with. A frequent objection bandied about by critics is that the movie makes no sense to children. On the contrary, I have found that the film's enchantment is almost universal (I have spoken to many who, like me, spent their childhood under Wonka's spell; I also don't recall speaking to a single person who didn't enjoy it). With that in mind, I find it hard to criticize; nevertheless, I'll make a noble attempt.
The film has a few differences with the original book by Roald Dahl. The setting now appears to be America, rather than England (though it was filmed on location in an amusingly ill-disguised Bavaria). In the original book, Charlie had both mother and father; in the film his father is deceased before the story begins. This is not an arbitrary change, however. A thread that runs through the film is Charlie's need for a father (a male to fulfil his dreams and fantastical aspirations) and, just as importantly, Wonka's need for a son and heir. Here is an added dimension that builds nicely on Dahl's initial story.
The film exhibits a few disturbing inconsistencies at the same time, however. One crucial blunder, that threatens to tear the narrative fabric apart at the seams, is the addition of a scene in which Charlie and Grandpa Joe explicitly disobey Wonka's instructions by tasting the fizzy-lifting drink, which has almost disastrous consequences for the pair. What, then, makes Charlie's actions qualitatively different to the other childrens'? When the entire plot hinges on Charlie's good character, next to the brazenly brattish and ignorant demeanour of his peers, this slip could easily prove fatal. It is not sufficient that Charlie is given the chance to redeem himself later on in the film, for this is an opportunity the other children simply did not have. It makes Charlie's subsequent dismay over the other children's behaviour ('Why don't they listen to Mr Wonka?' he asks his grandfather) a little incredulous. What saves it is the fact that most people will probably not notice this error, since the rest of the film is at pains to set Charlie apart from the other characters, so the incident is more likely to be taken as the result of misguided curiosity, rather than juvenile insolence or malice.
Another error, with similar consequences for the story, is in the creation of a new character, Mr Wilson, an assistant to Mr Wonka. Though the character does play a significant part in the story, it is a role that would have been much better being fulfilled by some other plot device, since it is introduced only at great expense to the overall cohesion of the plot. In the creation of a world (Wonka's factory) unpolluted (ostensibly!) by greed, selfishness and worldly cynicism, ie. the influence of grown-ups, we have yet another central element on which the whole narrative hangs, thematically. The new character only serves as a badly-judged novelty that clashes woefully with the tenor of the rest of the picture. (The reason the character of Wonka is no hindrance, incidentally, is that his character is clearly neither child nor grown-up, per se, but belongs to the realm of fantasy, something which Wilson's character does not; indeed, if they had made Wilson's character more fantastical, it probably wouldn't have been convincing).
There are a few other potentially worrying holes. For example, the aura of enchantment and magic surrounding the world of candy and chocolate, summed up in the rather hummable Candyman number (one of a few good songs; though there are also one or two real clangers), is offset by the fact that this is an enchantment and magic that only rich kids can afford. Charlie watches on enviously as those who can afford it taste of the delights of Wonka chocolate, whilst the Candyman ('He mixes [candy] with love and makes the world taste good') presumably passes Charlie by on account of his poverty. I won't go so far as to call this capitalist propaganda (!), but it is certainly an example of another glaring inconsistency.
So, with all this in mind, what makes this such a great movie? It is imaginative and inventive. The production design certainly has a few technical flaws, but it is fun, original and captivating. The characters (from the mind of one of the 20th century's greatest storytellers) are pitched straight for the child in every one of us, regardless of age. It is funny and exciting, an involving fairytale that appeals to our sense of fantasy, curiosity and adventure. It is a minor classic that has become a part of generations of children and grown-ups. That tells me that, despite its flaws, it works. I heartily recommend it. Enjoy.
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on April 2, 2003
Is there anything more indulgent and sensual than eating chocolate ? Anything that can be featured in a movie for children, that is ? Willy Wonka is the owner of a mysterious chocolate factory, and he is ready to reveals its secrets - but what child could resist their lure before getting handed a gruesome fate ?
The structure of WWatCF is reminiscent of Lord of the Rings - as we see child after child falling into temptation. Its premise is at least less blatant than Harry Potter's. The moral of the movie is "be moderate and honest".
Gene Wilder brings his tremendous energy and ambiguity to perfection in this movie. He is suitably frantic and dark as the eccentric Willy Wonka. The Oompa-Loompas are the stone-faced Muses, as if from a Greek tragedy, breaking in omnious songs, whirling around and giving out morals for the patient children.
While the sense of wonder in this movie is not as high as it could be, due to the limits of special effects of the time, this is as good as children's movies get.
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