A Charming, Beautifully Adapted Film
When it comes to adapted novels standing the test of time, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory certainly comes to mind. Testament to the great work done here, this 47-year-old film still holds up today thanks to its hedonistic, wonderfully colourful tale about a chocolate factory and its eccentric owner. Armed with a mix of catchy songs, dance numbers and a compelling narrative, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory is the perfect adaptation of Road Dahl’s classic tale and one that’s sure to be remembered fondly for many years to come.
The story begins with Charlie (Peter Ostrum), a young, poor boy who dreams of a better life for himself and his four grandparents (Grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson), Grandpa George (Ernst Ziegler), Grandma Josephine (Franziska Liebing) & Grandma Georgina (Dora Altmann)). When Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder), the local chocolate connoisseur and factory owner, announces five golden tickets hidden in chocolate bars around the world, a frantic scramble ensues to try to find the golden tickets. Dwarfed by the chaos around him, Charlie clings to a tiny shred of hope that the one chocolate bar he receives on his birthday may hold a ticket.
There’s an oddity to Willy Wonka’s stylistically presented aesthetic that gives it a unique feel with a dark sense of humour through a lot of the run time. The characters feel like they’ve been ripped straight from the pages of the book, complete with exaggerated mannerisms played to perfection by their respective actors. The stand out is of course Willy Wonka himself and Gene Wilder’s performance as the charismatic factory owner is the shining stand out in this brilliantly adapted family feature.
Whether it be the wondrous contraptions inside the chocolate factory or the oddity of the oompa loompas themselves, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory does a great job taking as many elements from the book as possible and placing them in the film in such a way that they feel like a natural fit in this universe. The various musical numbers are memorable too with a good blend of humour, catchy lyrics and solid camera work to keep the narrative moving forward at a consistent pace. If there’s one critique here it’s with the latter periods of the story that feel very similar in set-up as each of the children find a room that’s tailored to their deepest desires.
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory remains to this day one of the best Roald Dahl novels to be adapted to the big screen. The hedonistic mix of singing, dancing and bizarre plot developments make this a really enjoyable, well written flick. While there are better musicals out there, you’ll be hard pressed to find one with as much charm and accessibility as Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory which is easily one of the best family features of its time.