Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Children’s fantasy. Five children receive lottery type tickets to tour the world’s most amazing Chocolate Factory of the elusive and oddball Willy Wonka. Tim Burton has a unique viewpoint but is not a very good storyteller to me. His visuals are fascinating, and his characters are quirky, but often very distant or alien. This story was a mediocre remake. Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka is entirely alien and unsympathetic despite the attempt to show his flaw originating in an unloving Dentist father who denied him the pleasure of candy. He is just so heartless in his reactions to the kids that I despised him. I like the morality fable nature of this story though. It shows these five kids, all products of bad parenting, who reflect their parents in their worst faults. There is the suburban competitive girl who is the overachiever. There is the fat German boy who is a symbol of conspicuous consumption. There is the spoiled little rich girl who controls her parents with her whining, getting everything she asks for. There is the selfish video-game antisocial boy. And of course, there is Charlie, who is a member of a poor but loving family who sacrifices their needs for his happiness. The theme of family as most important in life is a great one, even showing Charlie’s grandparent’s, both sets, living with them. When each of the children’s own selfishness gets them into trouble and they receive their comeuppance, the Oompa Loompas sing their song mocking their faults with moral humor. I liked the different versions of music used, but could not understand many of the lyrics. But the most selfish of all is of course, Willy Wonka, who offers Charlie the factory if he only leaves his family, because as Willy says, family only gets in the way of creativity. I found this an amazing deliberate reference to Hollywood itself. The fact that he chose to say “creativity” rather than say, “pleasure” or “fun” or some other child oriented thing, shows the storytellers were addressing the individualism of the artist or the creative type versus the interests of the community. I find this rather ironic as well, since that movie itself was no doubt made with dozens of the people on crew and cast who in fact HAVE put aside family and community for their individual creativity. Hollywood is a kind of “Pleasure Island” of this kind of lifestyle choices. But back to Wonka, this is all a very nice circle because all the kids, who are archetypes of kids today, are all selfish narcissists who have become the monsters they are because of indulgence, and yet, Wonka is the selfish antisocial type he is because of the opposite, the denial of pleasures. So we see that Charlie, who doesn’t get everything he wants, but who is also not an ascetic monk in his family, is the perfect balance. Charlie’s family may not have much but they sacrifice little things to bless each other, and make each other happy. It’s all quite communitarian in its essence and I think a mediocre tale of a good morality.

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