Today it is time to get a little nostalgic. The movie I’m about to talk about is “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” from 1971 directed by Mel Stuart. The film is based on the children’s book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” written by Roald Dahl seven years earlier.
Poor little Charlie Bucket has one wish: more than anything in the world he wants to win a Golden Ticket. Five of these precious things have been hidden in chocolate bars by Willy Wonka who owns the Chocolate Factory. Whoever finds one of these tickets gets to visit his factory – an outstanding price as nobody has ever been inside for years. Four of the tickets are found around the globe, one in Germany, one in England and the other two in America. When poor Charlie finds some money in the street he too gets to be lucky. The chocolate bar he buys contains a Golden Ticket. The kids along with one family member each come to the factory where Willy Wonka awaits them.
He shows them his marvellous inventions and funny little helpers. But along the trip the group continuously gets smaller. Most of the children are spoiled or simply mean and can’t control themselves. Therefore, they get themselves into trouble. The German boy for example is greedy and wants to drink from the chocolate river, falls in and gets sucked away. By the end of the tour only Charlie and his grandfather are left. Before they leave Charlie returns a gift, an Everlasting Gobstopper, to Wonka. An industrial spy had offered Charlie a lot of money if he’d get him one of these. It turns out that the spy was a man sent by Wonka and Charlie passed the test. Willy Wonka reveals that he wants Charlie to be his heir.
This movie has a certain charm. Compared to the new movie directed by Tim Burton it of course can’t compete with the special effects. But it is one thing above all: adorable. How could you not love Gene Wilder’s performance as the a little bit crazy Willy Wonka? His factory looks absolutely wonderful, like a magical candyland although by that time there was no huge computer technique to create a wonderland. There were characters you just had to love like Charlie and his granddad while on the other hand the four rather mean childer were also portrayed very well.
The musical numbers throughout the film are very catchy and most of them are real evergreens. I suppose by now the number of people who saw the Tim Burton movie will be by far higher the amount of guys who even heard of the old one. The 1971 version is not as hyper and super mean as the new film. It is also quite colorful but just doesn’t feel as forced as the 2005. Don’t get me wrong, I also consider the new version quite decent but it can’t compare with the old one. The two movies are very different and to me Gene Wilder will always be the one true Willy Wonka.
I cannot understand why Roald Dahl himself was so disappointed by this movie, I absolutely loved it!