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Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Cast: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, more...
Director: Mel Stuart
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Warner Home Video
Genre: Coming of Age , Fantasy, Musicals
Running Time: 100 min.
Languages: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
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This title is currently out of print.

Promoted as a family musical by Paramount Pictures, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is more of a black comedy, perversely faithful to the spirit of Roald Dahl's original book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Enigmatic candy manufacturer Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) stages a contest by hiding five golden tickets in five of his scrumptious candy bars. Whoever comes up with these tickets will win a free tour of the Wonka factory, as well as a lifetime supply of candy. Four of the five winning children are insufferable brats: the fifth is a likeable young lad named Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum), who takes the tour in the company of his equally amiable grandfather (Jack Albertson). In the course of the tour, Willy Wonka punishes the four nastier children in various diabolical methods -- one kid is inflated and covered with blueberry dye, another ends up as a principal ingredient of the chocolate, and so on -- because these kids have violated the ethics of Wonka's factory. In the end, only Charlie and his grandfather are left. Ostensibly set in England, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was lensed in Germany (as revealed by the film's final overhead shot). ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Special Features:

  • Pure Imagination: The Making of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
  • Audio Commentary with the Wonka kids
  • 4 Sing-Along Songs
  • Behind-the-scenes 1971 Featurette
  • Photo Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer

GreenCine Member Reviews

Willy Wilder and the Timeless Fantasy by vexkitten July 31, 2005 - 9:32 PM PDT
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful

You aren't necessarily a bad egg if you don't like this movie, there's a good chance you haven't been properly refrigerated. Based on Roald Dahl's book, but originally intended as a feature-length commercial for General Mills Wonka Bars, the movie has long outlasted the product it was intended to promote.
The fact that I first saw it at a very young age has undoubtedly influenced my opinion, but Willy Wonka just gets better for me, and it's not just nostalgia (childhood was overrated anyway.) I bought the DVD on impulse last Christmas, and plan to watch it every year henceforth.
Sure, the effects are sometimes cheesy. You can see the wires in the floating scenes. The chocolate river looks like colored water. The psychedelica is dated. So what? It was 1971.
Like all the best children's films, this one works for kids and adults both. For the former, there's the fantastic world of Wonka, the promise of escape from humdrum reality (which is depicted as quite grim--the film doesn't sugarcoat poverty) the bright colors and silly humor (like Mr. Gloop casually eating a reporter's microphone.) Grownups will notice the moments of wit peppered throughout the film, and the pokes at greed, bad manners and worse parenting are more relevant than ever. The pace is brisk, and the jokes aren't lingered over.
The kids and their parents were perfectly cast. Great character work from a bunch of pros. The songs may seem hokey to modern audiences, but I can't imagine the film without them, particularly the magical "Pure Imagination." And who can forget those oompa loompas?
Then there's Wilder. If the rest of the film failed completely, it would be worth watching for his performance. He is creepy, unpredictable and hilarious. He suffers fools with a hostility barely masked by old-world comportment and a literary quote for every occasion. His apparent lack of concern for the children's safety makes us wonder if he really is a madman. What is this guy up to? It all becomes clear at the end.
The moral? Only that "a little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men."

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.49)
728 Votes
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