Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971, dir. Mel Stuart)
“Not a speck of light is showing so the danger must be growing… Are the fires of Hell a-glowing? Is the grisly Reaper mowing? Yes! The danger must be growing cause the rowers keep on rowing and they’re certainly not showing any sign that they are slowing!“
I racked my brain all day today attempting to work out what a quintessential Easter film would be. Christmas has several (It’s a Wonderful Life, SEVERAL variations of A Christmas Carol, Trading Places, White Christmas etc) but there’s not a whole load of films that you would somewhat associate with the Easter holidays. On a purely non-religious point of view and more from a decadent standpoint, maybe the perfect film for this weekend would be the original 1971 version of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. It’s a film absolutely ingrained in my mind and one that I could probably watch every week if it was on.
Apart from being clearly shot in a post-war Germany and featuring several counts of murder (Wonka is not held accountable for several child deaths at any point in the film) , the film is a dreamlike adventure inviting audiences into a world where water is chocolate and gummy bears grow on trees. As the film progresses it becomes increasingly more insane but never loses it’s sense of fun. It also has a huge degree of charm with the massively likable Charlie as our protagonist, a kid so poor that a chocolate bar is a perfectly acceptable birthday present.
It’s easy to therefore say that the film is almost perfect for the family audience it’s aiming for. Well, that is almost correct. This famous scene on Wonka’s boat is the anomaly within this fun romp. It’s utterly out of place and yet, that kind of works for some weird reason. Suddenly, the film takes a weird psychedelic detour with strange/disturbing imagery as Wonka yells directly into the camera. It’s mad. Completely and utterly mad. It’s menacing and wouldn’t be out of place in a late 60s/early 70s film with a strong emphasis on LSD or other such psychedelics.
BONUS: Because it’s Easter, the season of chocolate (specifically for non-Christians anyway), my favourite song in the film. To this day, the factory really does retain it’s magic.