In a Nutshell. Mini reviews of movies old and new. Minimum words. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional trout.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

The first filmed version of Roald Dahl's famous book is the only one you really need to see. The screenplay was written by the author himself. I know that alone doesn't guarantee success, but thankfully everything else in the production came up as polished and golden as the tickets that grant the five young protagonists access to the secret world of Willy Wonka.
Wilder plays the chocolatier like a ringmaster with an enigmatic but caustic edge lurking beneath his multifaceted surface – he's a candy box of moods.
Wonka's the guide but it's Charlie Bucket who the audience are more in tune with. Charlie is poor in pocket but rich in heart. He recognises moments of self-pity when they appear but half the time is powerless to quash them completely. He'd be bullied in real life, but in Dahl's world he's a shining light of redemption that provides both the warmth of a kind heart and the selfless sadness that is often tethered to the same emotional machine.

4 disappearing rabbits out of 5

10 comments:

budarc said...

5 golden tickets out of 5 for me.

It plays perfect for me in every way, bursting with pure imagination and a hint of darkness at every turn. Probably my single favorite Gene Wilder role. The Burton remake got close but it could never replicate the magic of the original.

Dr Faustus said...

On my own personal scale it's 5 out of 5, too (up there with Labyrinth and Tron), but I didn't want to detract from its merits by letting my inner-fanboy go to town. I'm aware that sometimes that results in me being overly-harsh when it comes to scoring, but I think I prefer to err on that side than to have someone not give such a classic film a chance based on any feelings about me personally.

TL:DR – It totally rocks, regardless of my over-thinking score!

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I didn't warm to Burton's at all. I wanted to like it but I don't think he's good with remakes. His Wonka, Planet of the Apes, Alice in Wonderland and Dark Shadows were all bad. In between them he had some great original stuff like Big Fish and Corpse Bride.

budarc said...

Yeah, I've always been a gut level reviewer, which admittedly leads to a lot of "love it or hate it" ratings. I feel like it's the only way to really be true to myself rather than looking at everything with a harsh critical eye. It also helps when you've seen a movie multiple times since your youth and you grow fonder with each subsequent viewing, which a lot of first time viewers probably wouldn't get.

That actually goes for all the remakes you listed. I was more critical on my first viewing, but they've only grown on me with time.

Dr Faustus said...

Honestly, I enjoy reading the 'gut level' reviews you referred to more than I do reading straight-up analytical ones; they tend to have more vibrancy and certainly more passion.

I know that probably sounds odd just now, considering what I did here, but because I have both sides to me I feel the need to give time to both objective and subjective on occasion, and sometimes that choice is dictated by how much respect and love I have for the film. I'm a walking contradiction. If that makes me unreliable, so be it. (I just checked my next scheduled Nut, it's the opposite of this one. It all balances out... hopefully.)

budarc said...

I get it. I struggle with that balance too, which usually leads to unpopular opinions. Some movies are too sacred to me though and anything less would feel like someone else is writing it for me. That's why it drives me crazy when cuckoo reviews Fire Walk With Me and states it's a near-perfect movie that he's seen well over 20 times, yet only gives it a 4. And knowing cuckoo's love for Twin Peaks, I realize he struggled with that too. ;)

P.S. I forgot to mention earlier, I'll be seeing Labyrinth in cinemas next month as part of its 30th anniversary. You might try looking it up in your neck of the woods to see if any revival houses are playing it. (More bragging rights: I just saw the 1968 Planet of the Apes on the big screen last week!)

Dr Faustus said...

I saw Labyrinth was getting a new Blu to mark the occasion, but I didn't know it was getting screenings. That would make my year! I'll definitely look. TY. TY.

PotA on the big screen would be so damn good, too.

It's rare I get the opportunity to see old stuff that way, but in the past I've saw Forbidden Planet, Vertigo, Back to the Future and Full Metal Jacket in theatres and they were all amazing!

cuckoo said...

I'd go with a sexy 4 Everlasting Gobstoppers out of 5 too.

Wilder is brilliant as The Cat in the Hat.

Dahl never liked the film. I'd agree with him too, as he thought Charlie was meant to be the main character and gets a bit too shuffled in the background against Wonka.
A shame because I think the kid who played him could have easily pulled off taking center stage.

I wasn't awfully fond of Charlie having a job either. It took a bit away from the extreme poverty they should have been facing.

However, when it all comes down to it, the film is an enthusiastic celebration of imagination and does so with beautiful off-kilter grandeur.

budarc said...

Le Doc,

I too was lucky enough to see BTTF last year on Future Day. They played all three movies back to back and it turned out to be one of the best moviegoing experiences of my life. There's something about watching older movies on the big screen that really transports you back in time to when it was made and makes you see it with fresh eyes all over again. Just today, I traveled back to 1939 for Gone with the Wind (5 damns out of 5). In the States, there's a theater chain that hosts a classic series throughout the year. It's cheaper to buy them all in a bundle rather than pay full price for each individual ticket, so I've ended up going to each one and it's been amazing (especially since I haven't seen 98% of these in the theater, and more than half of them were made before my time). Here's a list of all the ones I've seen this year alone (and some future titles, although it's incomplete): https://letterboxd.com/travissmcclain/list/cinemark-classic-series-2016/detail/

I'm looking forward to a 1989 Batman/Suicide Squad double feature next week. :D

Dr Faustus said...

Wow! I'd make sure I was busy elsewhere the night Top Gun was screening, and I wouldn't be too concerned if I missed Tiffany's, but I'd be queuing for everything else!

I've seen Singin' in the Rain in theatre. I forgot about it.

budarc said...

Blade Runner and 2001 were some of the best experiences this year. With regards to Singin' in the Rain and Gone with the Wind, the theatre experience really enhanced my opinion of those films (which were largely forgettable when I saw them back on VHS). I've never been a Top Gun fan either, but something about the music and the visuals during that screening just blew me away. Lately I've pretty much just thought about setting camp in a darkened theatre because it's my favorite place to be.