Monday, March 22, 2010

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

There's no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going
There's no knowing where we're rowing
Or which way the river's flowing
Is it raining, is it snowing
Is a hurricane a-blowing

Not a speck of light is showing
So the danger must be growing
Are the fires of Hell a-glowing?
Is the grisly reaper mowing?

Yes, the danger must be growing
For the rowers keep on rowing!
And they're certainly not showing
Any signs that they are slowing!!

I must confess: When I first saw the 1971 version of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" I was frightened out of my mind. It might have had something to do with the fact that I was 8 years old and my mind was prone to attaching reality to the movies I watched, or maybe it was that my sisters were so scared that they left me alone in a dark room to finish it, or maybe it was the extremely brilliant surreal execution of the film thanks to Mel Stuart and Roald Dahl.

Needless to say, when each of those children had something horrific happen to them, and Gene Wilder treated it with such nonchalant flippancy, It scared the socks off me.

...But I recently re-watched it, and I found every single aspect of the film to be delightful and full of life. I can still see why I was terrified as a child, but now the wild ride is much more enjoyable. The colors are bold, the nonsense is delicious, Gene Wilder is simultaneously off his rocker and the sanest man in the room. The songs are fun, and there is a wonderful point to it all that speaks to both kids and adults. And besides, the Snozzberries really DO taste like Snozzberries!

In short, I think this film may have just rocketed into my top favorites of all time in only one viewing. Will I watch it again? You bet.

To quote Willy Wonka quoting Arthur O'Shaughnessy,

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

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