Must see Christmas movie: Willy Wonka

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka via Wikimedia Commons

This appeared in Sin on November 21 2011, as a part of a larger article on great Christmas movies.

“Hold your breath. Make a wish. Count to three.”

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is as much a part if Christmas as the turkey and ham. The 1971 adaption of Roald Dahl’s classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is shown at least once over the extended Christmas feast. And if by some freak accident RTE or BBC don’t show it, you should track it down anyway.Charlie Bucket is a very poor little boy who loves nothing more than a creamy bar of Wonka chocolate. The man behind these bars is a reclusive genius whose mysterious factory seemingly operates without any employees. No-one has seen him for years until he decides to throw open the doors of his wonderful factory to those lucky enough to find a golden ticket in a bar of Wonka chocolate.

Against all odds, Charlie gets in to the factory. Unfortunately there are four other horrible children who are out to get their paws on Wonka’s chocolate. Who will win the lifetime supply?

So what makes Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory a children’s classic? Well, the story helps. Roald Dahl was the master of children’s writing. His unique imagination and refusal to sugar-coat his stories make him one of the best children’s fiction writers ever. But it is not the story alone- after all, the 2005 Tim Burton remake told the same story and was nowhere near as successful.Unlike Johnny Depp in the remake, Gene Wilder stayed on the right side of creepy as Willy Wonka in the original. He really is outstanding. The casting is note-perfect and the sets are still impressive forty years later. It doesn’t shy away from the sinister side of Dahl’s world either; the glee with which the four brats are disposed of is quite jaw-dropping. And there is, of course, the music.

Get the fire lit, the tin of Roses on the lap, and come away to a “world of pure imagination”.

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