A world of pure imagination. That’s what we’re promised by Mel Stuart’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), and boy, does it ever deliver. This adaptation of Roald Dahl’s sweet satire is full to the brim with novelties and notions, some whimsical, some bittersweet. What it doesn’t advertise right up front, though, is the fact that some of these flights of fancy are sheer lunacy, some downright diabolical. Before I ever picked up an Agatha Christie book, before the body count shenanigans of Friday the 13th, before the sanguinary Rube Goldberg devices of Saw, I ran this candy coated gauntlet, and it filled me with both delight and unease. To this day, it manages to instill those same feelings in me. Each time I take this ride, though, I am ultimately rewarded with reinforcement of the most important lesson it taught me so long ago: embrace the unknown. It’s full of other helpful things to know as we make our way in the world, but none has been more important to me than this. Every time that glass elevator shoots through the ceiling, it is raising a toast to discovery, exploration, and imagination. To that, I say cheers.
What you’ll find in this episode: good times, bad eggs, freak outs, golden tickets, the problematic history of Oompa Loompas, the line connecting Willy Wonka to Altamont, fan theories, grandpas and grandmas, and Everlasting Gobstoppers.
Links and Recommendations:
Check out Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of The Watcher in the Woods.
Cole’s further viewing pick of Pippi Longstocking.
Jacques Torres’ museum devoted to chocolate.
Order Wonka candy in bulk, like Augustus Gloop would.
Listen to Ericca’s appearance on The Complete Podcast, discussing Lolita.
Listen to Cole’s appearance on Criterion Reflections, discussing The Sorrow and the Pity.