Yes, I’m fully aware that there’s a book from Roald Dahl that I could have been reading my kids, and I do know that the ‘real’ movie choice for this book would be the Tim Burton one, but he and I are on the outs. Just listen to the archives of RLR for reasoning as to why.
That’s neither here nor there, instead I’m talking about the only version of the story that I love more than the original, and that’s the rebranded Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, not the original Charlie and the Something Something you all would say I should share. Am I aware that this movie was nothing more than a marketing ploy to sell candy? Yes! Do I care? Not a bit, because by the time I was old enough to know better, Wonka had already become an established brand.
Alright, so the film from 1971 is a bit before my time but I like to affirm is timeless. The very fact that they set the movie in some nondescript Bavarian burg (I realize Munich isn’t nondescript, jokes people, jokes) makes the story that much more timeless because of the classic architecture and sheer history of that part of the world. The music and score by Newley and Bricusse proves to have lasted the test of 40+ years and is where my daughter got hooked on this cult classic.
When we sat down to watch the movie, my expectations were high that she would enjoy the experience, but I was also ready with the fast-forward button in case her three year old brain got bored with the scenes of extremely thick dialogue that might as well be slapping you across the face with a yardstick sized ass-paddle with the words “EXPOSITION” etched into it.
I knew from the smiles on her face that if she was already hooked on hearing “The Candyman Can” and “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket”, that she was in for a real treat when Gene Wilder (who will always be MY Willy Wonka) and the Oompa Loompas would show up in the factory. Besides the somewhat boring segments where each of the nasty little children are introduced to the audience her attention never veered much from the movie.
Once the kids were being admitted entry into the factory, I could tell that I had done the right thing by sharing THIS version of the film with her first if for no other reason than the simple little bit of trickery that Gene Wilder threw into the character as he was doing his limped walk toward the factory gates. That one littler somersault had to be rewound twice in our viewing because she liked it so much.
From there, things took their normal course, I get misty eyed when Willy sings “Pure Imagination”, laugh when the tubby Agustus goes up the chocolate pipe, and sing along to the Oompa Loompa tracks…the whole time noticing that my daughter hasn’t turned away from the screen one bit.
The only part that required fast forwarding in that segment of the movie was the truly disturbing boat ride scene because I didn’t particularly relish having to deal with a little girl having nightmares that night. I contemplated going past Mr. Wonka yelling at Charlie and Grandpa about the fizzy lifting drinks but thought better of it because it’s less of a spooky scene but one where I was able to teach her something.
Nearing the end of the movie, while they’re riding in the glass elevator…there’s one piece of dialogue that Wilder says to Charlie that has never failed to make me tear, and that’s the whole “Man who got everything he wished for / he lived happily ever after”. No lie, it’s always Niagara Falls every time.
Of course, the biggest measure of how good a movie is with her is the time between the ending and when she asks if we can watch it again. I’m just thankful that I’ve seemed to kindle a love for classic movies like this even though there are those who argue that the new version is better. If I had my way, she’d never have watched the current version until much further down the road, but I love that she loves this movie as much as I did.