Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Stuart. 1971)

"There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there, you'll be free if you truly wish to be."


There is no substitute in the world for pure and honest imagination. This means that every single movie for children has the potential to be a fantastic journey for the target audience. I have seen several movies made for children in my time as a lover of cinema, but I am yet to have seen a movie that captures what is good about them as well as the classic, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

The whole concept of the film, which is based from the Roald Dahl novel, is a knowledgeable work from the imagination of a child. Though this has now become more known as a "family film", Willy Wonka is the last film for youth that still managed to take them seriously as producers of wishes and dreams. The film never stops to talk down to the audience. Everything is exactly how it should be throughout the entire thing.

The storyline of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is not only memorable, but it is now thought as legendary. A young poor boy named Charlie finds the final golden ticket that will allow him to tour the mysterious and famous factory that is owned and operated by the eccentric Willy Wonka. As the tour is carried on, children are discarded in a variety of seemingly gruesome ways. One boy is sent floating down a river of chocolate. Another boy is taken to a taffy machine to be stretched back to normal size. Perhaps most famously, one of the female children is blown up into a giant plum-like ball of a human.

These punishments are accompanied by the extremely iconic Oompa Loompa musical numbers. As creepy as these little people may seem to the adult eye - they are simple fun plot pushers for children. Their clown-like appearance and goofy antics can be automatically associated with humor in the mind of a child.

Gene Wilder, who seems to be a perfect fit for every role that he plays, shows a natural progression from Bonnie and Clyde to The Producers to the character that he was born to play, Willy Wonka. His off-beat demeanor and calming vocal style create a soothing and welcoming atmosphere for imagination. It feels as though Wilder himself wants the audience to escape into the character with him. He is never anything outside of perfect in this film. It is a work of genius that an actor like Johnny Depp could never draw inspiration from because it is from a place that values the mind of a wondering youngster.

I am forced to address that Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory has become a popular film in adult circles for its supposed hidden themes and intense imagery. This can be tied to one particular scene where Wonka takes the children on a haunting boat ride. Though I agree that the scene is intense, I do not believe that it takes anything away from the adolescent perfection in which this picture swims. Children are not stupid. They understand much more than modern children’s movies would give them credit for understanding. This is a scene that lets a child know to expect the unexpected. Young people desire that in their entertainment - or at least they did in 1971.

What this film does is offer up 100% uninfluenced and innocent imagination. The mind of a child is meant to be challenged and introduced to original, funny, scary and outlandish ideas. There is seriousness to the film that children understand. Willy Wonka teaches them lessons to keep for life. It also genuinely entertains them with catchy numbers and colorful sets.

I cannot rave any more strongly about any film that does not dumb itself down for a younger audience. If anything, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory expects its audience to smarten up. This is a responsible introduction for children into the world of brilliant filmmaking. Everything about this film works to some degree. It is almost perfect for adults, but absolutely fascinating for a child.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: A

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