The 1971 movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, isn’t your run-of-the-mill children’s film. Based on Roald Dahl’s bestselling book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it’s a psychedelic mix of color and chaos, shadow and songs. When Charlie, a boy from a poor family, wins the chance to visit the world’s most famous chocolate factory with four other children, he has no idea what a spellbinding, spooky, and surprising day he’s in for.
Leading the children throughout the factory is Mr. Willy Wonka, who’s every bit as strange as the rooms on the tour. Magically brought to life by Gene Wilder, he’s got a glint in his eye and a lilt in his voice that are more than a little unnerving.
Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory is a doorway into a world where sweets grow on trees, geese lay golden eggs, and gobstoppers last forever. But it’s a dangerous world for the unwary.
Despite the fact that it’s 45 years old this year, the film is every bit as vivid, joyous, and thought-provoking as when it first came out. So give it a go if you haven’t seen it!
- The four children who explore the factory with Charlie are depicted as highly unpleasant, but do you think they deserve what happens to them? Explain your answer.
- Roald Dahl didn’t like the film at all, partly because he thought it focused too much on Mr. Wonka and not enough on Charlie. Do you think that is true? Why or why not.
- If you’ve read the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, compare the film to the novel. See how many differences you can spot.
- Was hiding golden tickets in chocolate bars the best way to find a new factory owner? What might you have done differently if you’d been Willy Wonka?
Also, see that bar of chocolate in the graphic above? The photographer notes that Prestat of Piccadilly is one of London’s oldest chocolate shops, and that Roald Dahl referred to Prestat as “the great chocolatiers.” Could that have been the chocolate he had in mind when writing Charlie & The Chocolate Factory?
Need help commenting meaningfully on plot, characterization, make-up and costumes, acting, setting and even film editing? Check out our eleven page guide, Brave Writer Goes to the Movies. Also, tell us about a film you and your kids watched together (along with a pic if you have one) and if we share it on the blog you’ll receive a free copy!