Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a musical fantasy film from 1971 directed by Mel Stuart and written by Roald Dahl, who is also the author of the book the film is adapted from. The film has later attained a Cult Classic status and is still being shown on television in many countries.
I think there is no need for my to retell the plot here, as we all know the story well, so I am just going to dive into the review. 😊
When I was little I loved Roald Dahl’s books, and I loved Willy Wonka. To me, he was such a magical, eccentric character, who cared about kindness, not about being liked by everyone. I remember thinking that Willy Wonka must have been tired of not fitting in to the wicked world of men, so he made a world for himself full of sweetness and fun and imagination. But as the story enfolds we understand that this world has become lonely, and that Willy Wonka is seeking a kindred spirit to share it with, and he finds this in Charlie Bucket, our hero.
When I watched the 2005 adaptation of this film, the one directed by Tim Burton, starring Johnny Depp in the lead as Willy Wonka, I was completely torn out of my childhood fantasy. The Willy Wonka in that film was not MY sweet and magical Willy Wonka, he was a selfish dark character, and I did not like him one bit. The whole movie took a very dark turn in interpreting this story, probably due to both Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s influence, and consequently I did not like the film. The 1971 adaptation on the other hand, I loved!
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a much sweeter and more innocent take on the story, except for perhaps one scene (the one in the dark tunnel). I also loved the singing and dancing sequences, especially the opening one in the Candy Shop. The song “The Candy Man” is such a whimsical hit. (It was later recorded by Sammy Davis Jr.)
And I love, love, love the colors, the costumes and the sets, especially the first room in the Chocolate Factory. So magical! It is very typical the 70s, and of course free of computerized special effects and animation. Everything is actually made by hand! This, to me, gives the movie real soul and artistic quality, something I feel I rarely find in movies of this nature today. Today’s movie industry has a feel of being more about making money than art, I think. (But let’s not get political! 😀 ) It is not only the Chocolate Factory sets that are beautiful, the footage from the streets and buildings in the city is also lovely! The film was shot in Munich in 1970, and the authentic vintage shops are delightful!
If you love old movies, especially the musical ones, you will also love this sweet film. I highly recommend it to children and adults alike! 👨👩👦👦
(Oh, and by the way, a warning: I still can’t get that Oompa Loompa song out of my head!! 😂😂)