Written by Musgo Del Jefe
Not since I had to sit down and review The Wizard of Oz - 70th Anniversary Edition a couple years ago have I been at such a loss for how to frame a review for a film. The recent release of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory on Blu-ray from Warner Bros, not only celebrates the 40th Anniversary of this classic film but I'm tasked with reviewing the Ultimate Collector's Edition. Let me start by saying this isn't some little two-disc set to commemorate the film. This is a suitcase full of extras galore - which I attacked like a kid in a candy. . . well, let's just say the only thing missing is your own Oompa-Loompa. Like any good candy bar, it's easier if you break it down into smaller bite-size pieces.
THE FILM: If you don't know about the film after 40 years, then I'd be surprised if you wanted to jump into something as daunting as an Ultimate Collector's Edition. The most obvious question to ask when older films are released on their anniversaries is if they still hold the same appeal that they did when originally released. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory is a film that has never really left my life. I watched it when I could through my childhood and even more once it hit VHS. I had children and made sure that they were familiar with it. The Tim Burton remake, while servicable, did little more than highlight the magic of the 1971 original. Some films just capture magic in a bottle (a bottle of Fizzy Lifiting Drinks, if you will). This film lives in a timeless world that films can't make happen; the have to be happy accidents. The script by author Roald Dahl, directed by Mel Stuart, and starring Gene Wilder as Wonka and Peter Ostrum as our hero, Charlie.
I don't think my comparison to The Wizard of Oz is without merit. The adventure of a poor young boy who is transported to a magical world filled with little people and a wizard that seems to make magic happen. Instead of a dreary, B&W Kansas, Charlie is escaping a Dickensian English town. Each character that Charlie gets to know along the way teach him a lesson about greed ("I want it now") and gluttony (Augustus Gloop) and even sloth (Mike Teevee). There are important points in the movie told with music. It isn't a musical; I never considered it such, but I treasure the soundtrack. The score composed by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley captures so many moments perfectly. People recall Gene Wilder's "Pure Imagination" for good reason - it sums up the world of the chocolate factory, but it speaks to those feelings of childhood in general "Want to change the world? There's nothing to it."