06/05/2016

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory - We've All Been Duped!

Thoughts On: Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

Five Golden Ticket Winners get a chance to explore Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.


**Spoilers** This film is fucked up. In a good way. As you might have guessed by the title of the post, this is a very sinister film - but it's so well hidden. Before we start...

WARNING
THIS POST CONTAINS POETRY

... you can choose to skip it, leave now, or whatever. Actually, no, don't! Hold on a for a paragraph, we won't get into the poetry straight away and we'll reveal some quite interesting stuff, then you can leave. Mind you, you won't get the whole picture. Anyway...

It's safe to say that this is in no way a dumb movie. Fun, but it has us all turning our heads, screwing our eyes up in confusion at times. And, no, that's not because it's trying to be chaotic for the sake of it--as we'll find out. The first thing we'll do here is make clear the ways in which the movie pulls the wool over out eyes. Firstly, there's no such thing as luck in this film. Not with the golden tickets, not with the falling into chocolate lakes, burping just before being obliterated by a fan, not any of it. Look at the whole concept of the golden tickets. Wonka sends them out world wide, but gets back 5 white kids that all speak English and are all quite horrible (not Charlie--arguably). Moreover, who is there every single time a ticket is found? SLUGWORTH!! Oh, wait... no, it's Mr. Wilkinson. Wonka's employee. What does this imply? That the golden tickets were planted to be found specifically by these 5 kids. Don't believe me? Firstly, why not? Secondly, is there not a date on the tickets? Does Charlie not find his the day before October 1st? Too many extraneous variables in that to even consider that these things simply fall into place. Even by cinematic standards of fantasy. I mean, I can take the fact that the Eagles are coming, that Stormtroopers can't shoot straight, that Batman made it back to Gotham in time to defeat Bane, but this shit? Uh-uh. So this means that this whole movie is a rigged game. Another point is... I'm pretty sure Wonka murdered a few kids. Sure he says they're safe, sure we watch a girl fill up with liquid, a boy be shrunk, a fat kid miraculously not drown, but these assholes died - and that's the way Wonka wanted it. P.S I think he's got a death wish of his own. We'll come to that later though. For now, suffice to say that those dark undertones you feel with that tunnel bit... yeah, don't ignore them. More proof for this idea that Wonka is not the good guy he seems to be can be recognised by Roald Dahl's  other stories. Look at The Witches, James And The Giant Peach, Matilda, The BFG. All contain characters that wish to do harm to children - often kill them. Where is that character in this film? Look no further than Wonka himself. One more thing, one mistake I've been making for years: this movie is not called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It's called Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. There is a focus on Wonka in this take on the book (which Roald Dahl co-wrote). Yeah, and look at this guy's name. Willy Wonka. Kind of inappropriate. But, oh, it's just a kid's book/film. THAT'S WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO THINK!!!

Ok, to pull this film apart, we're going to have to introduce some poetry into the mix. You remember the bit with the weird tramp in the very beginning? What was all that about? Well, what he recites is a few lines (in bold) from a poem by William Allingham...

The Fairies
  
UP the airy mountain,
  Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting
  For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
         5
  Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
  And white owl's feather!
Down along the rocky shore
  Some make their home,
  10
They live on crispy pancakes
  Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
  Of the black mountain lake,
With frogs for their watch-dogs,
  15
  All night awake.
High on the hill-top
  The old King sits;
He is now so old and gray
  He 's nigh lost his wits.
  20
With a bridge of white mist
  Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
  From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with music
  25
  On cold starry nights
To sup with the Queen
  Of the gay Northern Lights.
They stole little Bridget
  For seven years long;
  30
When she came down again
  Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back,
  Between the night and morrow,
They thought that she was fast asleep,
  35
  But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
  Deep within the lake,
On a bed of flag-leaves,
  Watching till she wake.
  40
By the craggy hill-side,
  Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn-trees
  For pleasure here and there.
If any man so daring
  45
  As dig them up in spite,
He shall find their sharpest thorns
  In his bed at night.
Up the airy mountain,
  Down the rushy glen,
  50
We daren't go a-hunting
  For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
  Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
  55
  And white owl's feather!


This is, as the title tells us, a poem about Fairies, mythical creatures from Irish folklore. These are kind of evil things, despite what Disney will have you believe. Really, Tink dwells in forests, hiding from humans, but not always so successfully. Each time humans stumble upon Tink, they are warned to stay away with 'sharpest thorns' in their beds. Moreover, these little assholes steal babies. In the poem, they steal a little girl, 'little Bridget', who dies of grief - 'dead with sorrow'. However, fairies are immortal, they think she is asleep and so watch 'till she wake' (which she never will). What has this got to do with the film? I put it to you that Wonka himself is a fairy - metaphorically. The 'little men' isn't a reference to Oompa Loompas, but Wonka. Over the course of the film we will see him deceive, steal children from parents, kill them - and all to spite the world who is intrigued, who loves him. In this, we can see the film is about disillusionment. Think about it, maybe Wonka makes so much chocolate because he knows that children rot their teeth, ruin their lives, get fat, wish for, want chocolate, more, more, MOAR, chocolate. Maybe it's all the pain that his world causes that keeps him going? We also see parallels between Wonka and Fairies in the fact that they don't want to be found or be made contact with. This is why 'nobody ever goes in and nobody ever comes out' of the factory. This is why that old tramp is in the film. Moreover, an old homeless guy is a near mythical, fairy tale like, archetype. Think, witch--just not such an obvious image. Also, Wonka is referred to in the very beginning as a 'magic' 'candyman'. That's got a cute facade--but in a child catcher, lure you into the ice cream truck, kind of way. We can't forget what Wonka is outside of metaphors here either. He's an imperialist, capitalist, slave driving, billionaire, evil genius, lunatic. He went to Loompa Land and uprooted an entire species so they could work for him. Remember all that stuff about desolate wastelands, Horn Swlaggers and Wang Doodles (sexual imagery again!)? Look at the giant, quadruple size geese. He's overworking them, telling them (how, I don't know) that Easter hasn't come and gone yet. Oh, and by the way, Loompa Land doesn't exist! If a guy can create ever-lasting gobstoppers, edible forests, goddamn teleportation things--rooms that lead wherever he wants, then I'm sure he could genetically engineer a few huge geese - maybe even a couple people, not perfect, but since when does having an orange face and a short reach stop you from working? Maybe that means he isn't much of an imperialist, but he's still a slave driving evil genius.

All this leads us to a question of: why? Why are you ruining the movie!? To answer the latter, I'm not ruining the movie, I'm trying to stop it from making us look so stupid. To the former, well, let's look at the characters he decides to bring into the factory and what makes them so bad.

Augustus Gloop - Eats too much
Veruca Salt - Wants too much
Violet Beauregarde - Too competitive/self-absorbed
Mike Teavee - Watches too much T.V/too obnoxious

And, believe it or not...

Charlie Bucket - Dreams too big/too hopeful

We learn this all almost instantaneously. The only one that's a little ambiguous is Charlie. This will become very obvious by the end. Before that, there's a few details of the first act that are quite interesting though. Firstly, this...


Maybe it's just a joke? Maybe it's a reference to fairy tales? I'll leave that up to you. Other things we have come with the hilarious cut away scenes. My two favourites are with the therapist and then the scientist and computer. The scientist obviously invents a computer to calculate where the golden tickets are, but is told 'that would be cheating' and 'what would a machine do with a life time supply of chocolate bars?'. This demonstrates the satirical tone of the film that indicates people are mindless, greedy and don't think much too. Also, sabotage! We can assume the machine gave that answer because of some tinkering on Wonka's behalf. He's a psychotic genius, you think he wouldn't go that far? Next, the therapists session in which the doctor assures that believing dreams is a 'manifestation of one's insanity', to only demand the guy tell him where his dream implied the golden tickets were so he can go searching. This is very key as it is an open critique of dreams and the belief in them. Something that talks to Charlie's character directly. This also exposes Wonka's whole ticket thing as not only a means of killing or at least mentally damaging these horrible kids, but a massive ploy to sell billions of Wonka Bars - which he sure does. One more thing in the first act is the Charlie's golden ticket finding moment.  This is clearly planned as the dime is placed just where Charlie would see it, shining bright, and Wonka's employee/Slugworth is just around the corner. But, the ticket was in the second bar he buys! Yeah, merely proving Charlie's key downfall. When there are no stakes, he takes risks. This is what he does throughout the factory, and results in his ultimate downfall. But, he could have gotten any of the Wonka Bars! The guy in the shop probably works for Wonka. Why else would he sing a song about him? Also, that lingering look. Can't trust it. Before we jump past the first act and into the factory, let's look at Charlie's family. Firstly, his Grandparents remain in bed for 20 years. Lazy fuckers! Joe only gets out with the promise of  a debilitating amount of chocolate that'll surely kill him quick. Also, most of the adults are married to partners with similar names to them like Josephine, Georgina or Henrieta. They are one and the same, implied to be self-absorbed. All that leaves is Charlie's mother, her one wish is for him to 'cheer up'. But, unfortunately, she believes in his 'lucky day' - something the film is strictly against (as should be obvious by now).

Ok, let's actually get into the factory. Straight away it's made obvious that Wonka is a conman. I need say nothing more than: the contract. Next comes the impossible rooms proving that Wonka is both a genius and that he's trapping these characters, leading them in a predetermined route toward destruction. Then, the move into the nerve centre of the factory where dreams become reality and some realities become dreams. This idea of imagination and fantasy are core to the meaning of the film. It links together everything from ego, to dreams, to the huge turn around at the end of the film. And then of course, Wonka opens the door to his own paradise, singing...


Come with me and you'll be

In a world of pure imagination
Take a look and you'll see
Into your imagination


We'll begin with a spin

Trav'ling in the world of my creation
What we'll see will defy
Explanation

If you want to view paradise

Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Want to change the world, there's nothing to it

There is no life I know

To compare with pure imagination
Living there, you'll be free
If you truly wish to be

The key lines I want to draw your attention to are:


Anything you want to, do it

Want to change the world, there's nothing to it

If you've seen the film you know these kids aren't allowed to do anything they want. Moreover, there's dire consequences to conforming to their impulses - such as drinking from the chocolate lake. The song is a lie, making the music underneath it less mysterious but more sinister. Also, there's obviously something to changing the world. It's not that simple. Another lie. Wonka is leading us and these kids into a false sense of security, essentially allowing them (and us) to destroy ourselves. The other lines that emphasise this idea are:

... pure imagination
Living there, you'll be free
If you truly wish to be

These characters can be free in fantasy if they aren't corrupt, bad eggs in other words. Now, as was said before, the purposed of this tour is to trap these kids, allow them to destroy themselves. Each stop they take leads to the loss of one of them, and that is no coincidence. Goop's easy to get rid of, he's 'greedy'. To understand why Wonka does this we have to turn to the Oompa Loompas...

Oopma Loompa doom-pa-dee-dah
If you're not (FILL) you will go far
You will live in happiness too
Like the Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee do

Now, the fills are:

Greedy - Gloop
(given) Good manners - Violet
Spoiled - Veruca
Greedy - Teavee

These are the qualities Wonka kills (or harms - I say kills) them for. Also, 'doom-pa-dee-dah'. I draw your attention to 'doom'. It's not just a sound.  Other than that we have huge implemence in their songs. 'Like the Oompa Loompa' suggest that to become slaves like them, the kids must conform to Willy Wonka's will. Again, we have an imperialist, fascist, anti-individualist undertone here. Don't forget it. And remember, these poor guys are slaves. That in mind, look at those fills that Wonka is punishing these kids for, then ask yourself if Wonka holds any of those qualities. The answer is: yes, all of them. With that you get the general gist if the film, but there are a few odd and interesting parts I don't want to skip.

Let's look at the boat scene. Actually, just before that Wonka speaks French, afterwards, German. Why!? Honestly, I don't know. I think it rubs dirt in the wound that is his 'world wide distribution' of golden tickets that only brought in English speaking kids. Maybe he just has something against us? Also, it may cite his 'higher sense of culture' as emphasised with his later references to more poetry and Shakespeare. But, the tunnel scene. It's interesting that the parents go in afraid, but lets look and listen to what he's saying in their to find out why...


Round the world and home again
That's the sailor's way

Faster faster, faster faster

There's no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going
There's no knowing where we're rowing
Or which way the river's flowing

Is it raining, is it snowing
Is a hurricane a-blowing?

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
For the rowers keep on rowing
And they're certainly not showing
Any signs that they are slowing

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!

What does this mean? Well, that's up to you, but, I'd say it's about the control Wonka doesn't have over himself, yet the that he does over others. Chaos, in short; a summation of the film's plot: he's off the wall nuts and so decides to kill a few kids - and for reasons he himself may not understand. The parents, like him, are a little nuts and have a questionable amount of control too - e.g. the responsibility of parenthood. Going into the tunnel, and being scared of doing so, reveals to Wonka who's through and through nuts, who is afraid of the chaos they create. Some of the weaker parents like Teavee's mum and Salt''s father - who have some of the worst kids - are most scared, and for good reason. This is all ironic though, as you can imagine those horrible kids doing just what Wonka does. However, you could argue here that Wonka is only being to mean because that's what the kids deserve. If I'm honest, I quite like that idea, but I can't completely agree - and that's because of how malevolent he seems to be.

The next interesting scene is in the inventing room, and I think we have good reason to believe that all but one thing in this room is nonsense. First the gobstopper, we learn at the end that they are a test. Would Wonka really to through the trouble of inventing them for that - especially if he was to let the kids get away with them? If he really did create these things (which I wouldn't put past him) I think it makes it all the more likely that the kids are killed. Also there are some great jokes with the time, boots to give a kick, and coat to warm the cooler. It's clear that Wonka is just messing with these kids here. Just look at the line 'suck 'em and suck 'em and suck 'em' when he's talking about the ever-lasting gobstoppers. The real irony however is that he wants them to talk about the gobstoppers. I don't know how he gets away with it. But then, with a reference to Chaplins's Modern Times, we get the only working thing and that is the chewing gum machine that turns Violent into a blueberry(ish). Wonka's final aphorism in this section is a reference to Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice:

Where is the fancy bread, in the heart or in the head?

This isn't the only reference to Shakespeare's play. There's also:

So shines a good deed in a weary world.

A quick summary of The Merchant Of Venice is that a man called Antonio borrows some money off of a Jewish money lender, Shylock, with the condition that if he's not payed back in time (3 months), Antonio must pay with a pound of his own flesh. In the end, Antonio misses the deadline, but, it's against the law for Shylock to draw Christian blood and so can't take the pound of flesh--despite given the go ahead. Accused of attempted murder, Shylock then has all his money taken away, half given to Antonio. He however gives it back, ending the play in no better position than he started. There's a very rough summary, but it'll do. You can see with this the parallels between Charlie and Antonio here, with Wonka being Shylock. We'll come full circle in the end (I know I've told you to wait already, but please do). Before that we have just a few more points. First is the part where Grandpa and Charlie float toward the fan - this where Charlie comes back into this. Like with the chocolate in the beginning, Charlie has (or has lost) all he needs, he thinks he's won the life time supply of chocolate, a ticket to fame and fortune, and so he takes advantage. He steals, putting himself in danger, doing exactly what Wonka planned. This is a very symbolic moment too. Charlie dreams too much, that's his fault, and flying like a 'shooting star', 'bird', 'rocket', 'south for the winter', 'to the moon', 'as light as a feather' puts an image to that characteristic. For him to then nearly hit a fan implies that he's flying too high, waiting to be burnt. What gets him down in a burp, the release of all the gas, of all Charlie's pretense. The last part we'll look at really quick is the bit with the bubble making machine that goes really slow, then cleans everyone--impossibly. This is a surreal affirmation of Charlie's character flaw in Wonka himself. The gas and foam is his own pretense, he lied about it going fast and ends on saying 'if the good lord had intended for us to walk he wouldn't have invented roller skates'. What? In one sense he's mocking the Teavees in how lazy they are, but also claims that human design, his design, transcends humanity.

It's at this point we'll jump to the end, there are more strange gems in the film, but re-watch it to discover them for yourself.  The ending is very interesting as the tables are turned and then flipped and then blown up. The tables are turned with Charlie and Grandpa being made out to be the bad guys. They are a little arrogant, and very presumptuous - as is everyone. There's no thanks given to Wonka, people merely want to take from him. I think this best explains why everything in his office is cut in half. Not only is he empty, but lacks a counter-part. This is the one thing the remake did a little better than the original, it explained Wonka's back story, but it sucked overall, so let's not get into it. So, Grandpa calls Wonka inhuman for raising Charlie's hopes. What he does here is dehumanise someone who has already been dehumanised over and over, again and again - and in this day alone. Wonka isn't willing to give a life-time supply of chocolate to Charlie here also, which means there's definitely loop-holes that ensure the others aren't. But, alas, Charlie gives back the gobstopper. In return, he wins, he is given the factory, taken on a ride in the glass elevator. PAUSE. Let's go back to the remake a second, the ending is completely off and it's because there is resolution, confirmation, characters really change. The ending to this film is very ambiguous. Let's look at why Wonka gave up the chocolate factory. He doesn't want to try and live forever, or try - it seems like he may have found some kind of solution in the gobstoppers though. He wants to die, live a normal life. Moreover, he wants a child to take over his position because adults always want to do things there way, not his. What!? If you need any more evidence of fascism... I can't help you. Wonka is a Nazi. That taints the ideas of poor people given a chance breaking through the (literal) glass ceiling, doesn't it? This almost nullifies everything positive about the film. I'll tell you what else does. The last lines of the film:

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he every wished for... he lived happily ever after.

THAT IS A LIE. The happiness ratings of lottery winners is infamously shocking - many turning to alcoholism and depression. Getting all you wish for does not do you good, especially when it's all of a sudden. That will destroy you. But, Charlie's not winning the lottery. He's just blasted out of a factory in an elevator. What do you think happens a few seconds after the film ends? Yeah, that shit falls back down to the ground, killing everyone, or flits off into space as it apparently does--everone dead nonetheless. Wonka is committing suicide and is taking the person he hates most down with him. Charlie not only reminds Wonka of himself, but of everything shitty about the world. Not only does everyone see his money and factory instead of him, but when they know what they've done wrong, when they see a way to claw their way back in they take it. Come on! Charlie only put the gobstopper back because he knew that was the key symbol of betrayal separating the two. Moreover, this only reminds us of how destructive he is. He's lost everything and so with a gesture of depression he gives up the 10,000 promised. He wants all or nothing. The life time supply and the 10,000 or none of it. This is the link back to Shakespeare's, The Merchant Of Venice. There's give and take, but in the end ultimate loss. With all his pessimism confirmed, Wonka then kills himself in the elevator. What does this all mean though? It's all in his two songs mentioned. Read these lines again, knowing that Wonka is depressed:

Anything you want to, do it
Want to change the world, there's nothing to it

There is no life I know
To compare with pure imagination
Living there, you'll be free
If you truly wish to be

Everything Wonka creates gives him no pleasure. He doesn't seem to like kids, money, material possession. What can the world he has imagined, created for himself, mean? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. He has forgotten all meaning. Jaded, the fantasy has lost its grip on Wonka. He is nothing more than a capitalist vacuum. In short, the film makes clear that you don't always want to follow your dreams. All I can do here is leave you with his own ominous words:

Round the world and home again
That's the sailor's way

Faster faster, faster faster

There's no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going
There's no knowing where we're rowing
Or which way the river's flowing

Is it raining, is it snowing
Is a hurricane a-blowing?

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
For the rowers keep on rowing
And they're certainly not showing
Any signs that they are slowing

P.S Told you it was fucked up.


1 comment:

Sarah Weymes said...

In the follow up book, Charlie and his family end up safely home. Might be something to note. I never thought Wonka was a good guy, but he isn't committing suicide here.