Willy Wonka the Chocolate Factory Blu
In preparation for another Roald Dahl book, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is making the translation from book to film next month, Warner Brothers is releasing the original Willy Wonka the Chocolate Factory on Blu ray. Unlike the DVD releases in 1997 and flip flop 2001 for the 25th and 30th anniversaries the film is presented in 1080p High Definition 16×9 1:85.1 ratio. Warner Brothers thankfully got that right. So what makes this Blu ray so scrumdiddlyumptious? As if Slugworth himself released this Blu ray there is nothing outside a short full color picture book that includes lyrics and a few behind the scenes photos. The Blu ray has identical special features to the 2001 DVD and the 2006 HD DVD. In short, once you get it you want to move onto something else just like Veruca Salt. The transfer is nothing spectacular but that may very well be a testament to Arthur Ibbetson cinematography. The colors are just as vibrant as they were when the film was released back in 1971.
If you don own the movie on DVD and you are beginning to dive into the Blu ray craze then by all means it is not one to miss. There should just be more incentive to buy this classic film on Blu ray if you already own it. A new commentary by Stuart or star Gene Wilder would have been nice or even one by a film critic, a new trend and one that really puts the film into a perspective, historically.
Last year at this time I had a column called Great Pumpkin Issues (see column). In this column I broke down my interpretation of what Charles Schultz put me through as a ch flip flop ild with his cartoon, It the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Well for Willy Wonka the Chocolate Factory my story is much different. This was never a film I watched as a c flip flop hild. The only Wonka thing I knew of was the candy that was sold in stores. I never knew it was based on some fictional character. My parents never had me sit down and watch the movie and it wasn until college that I actually saw it for the first time. I was at party one night and this huge football player type guy was talking about the movie being re released on DVD. This was his all time favorite. He went on and on about how scary it was and how Gene Wilder, known to me primarily as Dr. Frankenstein, used to creep him out. I decided s flip flop ince I had one of these new DVD players I would rent it and catch this for the first time.
For those of you that haven seen Willy Wonka the Chocolate Factory it features a hard working little boy named Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum). Charlie lives with his hard working mother and his dead beat grandparents. Charlie might work hard but shows up late for work and immediately demands his paycheck because it is pay day. This should be expected because his grandparents are moochers and have sat in bed for the last twenty years. Poor Charlie has never even seen his grandparents walk before, yet he loves them all the same.
Charlie lives in the same town as the world famous candy maker Willy Wonka. Charlie learns that no one ever goes in or comes out of the factory. He gets this knowledge from his Grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson) who somehow knows all this yet can get out of bed and is often too busy smoking his pipe all day when the rest of the family is eating cabbage water. So how do all the ingredients get into the factory and how does the candy reach the suppliers? Later we learn that Wonka uses household trash and old clothes to make his candy but fear not this is just a kid story.
Wonka has a contest to promote his new candy bar and hides five golden tickets in the candy that will allow the winners to tour his factory. Grandpa Joe buys one for Charlie which is a complete mystery due to his physical state. It is of course not a winner. Eventually Charlie does find a ticket and is off to the factory. Wonka rival asks Charlie to steal Wonka latest creation, an Everlasting Gobstopper, and offers him $10,000 for just one sample. That sum alone is enough to get Charlie and his family out of the shack and back to three decent meals a day. Charlie wants his Grandpa Joe to accompany him and as if he was touched by some deity Grandpa Joe gets up off his lazy ass and starts dancing around the room.
The lessons really start flying as each one of other winners is dealt a punishment that fits their lot in life. Charlie on the other hand pollutes one of Wonka Fizzy Lifting Drink machines, yeah like that matters when you put soccer spikes into a concoction, and steals an Everlasting Gobstopper. Wonka then informs him and Grandpa Joe that they have lost the grand prize and to get out. Grandpa Joe really steps over the line and accuses Wonka of being a cheat and a swindler after he has stolen from Wonka in his own factory. It is Charlie who redeems not only himself but his Grandpa Joe and gives Wonka back his Everlasting Gobstopper.
If it weren for the heart and soul of this little boy, Charlie Bucket played with such brilliant honesty by Peter Ostrum, this would definitely be one of the most bizarre children of all time. Charlie comes from nothing and at the precipice of getting everything he throws it all away to make one person happy. Doing the right thing never stung so much but in the end the reward was totally worth it.
Sorry to paint the reality of the children tale so hard but in all honesty I really do love the film. It is a classic film with a bizarre set of circumstances that teaches children there is more to life than just getting something out of it. It teaches them the value of giving something back as well.