Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory


For some reason neither of us ever got around to seeing this, so we decided to rent it so we could compare it with the new version. I read up on it a little, discovered that though the screenplay credit is to Roald Dahl, he was extensively rewritten and hated this movie so much he wouldn’t sell the movie rights to the sequel. Now I suspect I’ll have to read the book.

Without even having seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the first thing I was struck by was how far film technology has come in 34 years. I’ve seen the trailers, and they are eye-popping. In 1971 Willie Wonka probably was, too, and it’s still bright and energetic, but look at the lighting. It’s all too bright and shadowless and ‘50s Technicolor. The camera work is boring and static … and yes, we’ve gone too far in the other direction these days, but still … Listen to the sound track, particularly the clunky Foley work. It always sounds like they’re walking on cheap plywood. Details like that make a difference, never mind the contrast between 6 Oompa Loompa dwarves and 140 CGI ones, or fake chocolate that looks like dirty water instead of Hershey’s syrup.

I didn’t care for any of the music.

What I did like was the weird randomness of it all. The movie is too maudlin and sweet until they get to the chocolate factory, and then it becomes a sourball, more to my taste. I liked Willie Wonka until the last scenes, which don’t ring true. Is that how the book ended? WWATCF lost me when Charlie picked his lazy-ass grandfather instead of his hard-working mother. I couldn’t get past his “disabled” grandfather getting out of bed and walking for the first time in 20 years just in time for the fun trip.