Thought on Willy Wonka

A few days ago, the great comedic actor Gene Wilder died. One of his most popular roles is as Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory ( Yet, it’s not my favorite of his and I find the movie a little boring. It looks like it was done on the cheap… all that is for another post. I want to take a look at a single moment in the movie.

The scene I want to discuss is a scene in which Gene Wilder doesn’t appear, the opening scene, the candy shop scene.

The scene.

From the perspective of a child, its a magical moment. What child doesn’t want to rush to the candy shop immediately after a long day at the classroom. And when you arrive at the store, the candy is plentiful, the clerk is cheery and knows the latest thing in confections. Later, as an adult, there’s something unsettling about the whole thing.

The main reason why I find it interesting because it establishes a couple rules of this particular reality. To be clear, the world in which Charlie Bucket and Willy Wonka live is askew from ours, very eccentric.

There is a clear delineation of class and credit in this world. At the very beginning of the show, the school bell rings and a group of kids crowd into Bill’s Candy. Immediately he spots a few faces as though he had a register of who they are and what treat they get when they enter they door. None of the kids request any specific confection, they simply crowd in, shout, jump, and stay excited. It’s as though the candy shop is part of some sort of after school program.

It’s obvious these kids come from, at least, middle class families. Their clothes are clean, brilliantly colorful, almost brand new. The fact is, the are connected to money and are blithely ignorant of the relationship between credit and business. Have enough, or access to enough of it, and one could get away with damned near anything and the business owner will gleefully participate. So gleeful, in fact, they’ll sing a song to reinforce the status quo and further the divide a child’s perception of reality from the world of adults.

The bright, cheerful,and privileged children never seem to fork over a single penny and the shop keeper showers the kids with candy and allows them unrestricted access to all his stores. It’s a childhood fantasy come true, if you have the proper parentage.

The scene ends with the shot of our outsider hero, Charlie Bucket, literally on the outside, longingly peering, the wish for what the connected kids seem to access so easily. However, he has to eschew his childhood for the benefit of his family. He comes from a destitute family that can’t earn the level of income that permits him to indulge in the lifestyle we just witnessed. Charlie Bucket is a member of the other class.

Nowhere are the attitudes shown towards his class made more poignant than, after he lucks out by finding a coin in the sewer, he goes to the same candy shop we experience at the top of the movie, and Charlie ultimately buys the fateful golden ticket. Just before he leaves the shop, but after he orders the Scrumdoubliumptios bar, that same clerk, who, at the beginning of the movie was joyously throwing candy around, singing songs, and letting the well connected/credited kids have run of the shop, is suddenly a stickler for the rules of the transaction.

I don’t know if he got a reprimand of some sort for his conduct with regard to the merchandise, or got a look at his finances just before Charlie walked in, but this clerk certainly has a different attitude about money this time around.

I believe that this change is an expression of this particular culture’s attitudes towards people of a lower class. Charlie obviously very rarely comes into the candy shop. His request for a candy bar is awkward. Still, even though he’s polite and avuncular, the clerk still hasn’t given Charlie the credibility that has others. This is a cold and heartless world in which Charlie lives.

My Patriotic Duty

It’s the 3rd of July.and I’m doing my patriotic duty by watching Independence Day.

Last week, I watched the much anticipated sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence. It was not as enjoyable as the first, to say the least.

Aside from its lack of… everything, the primary motivation of the alien race just seemed stupid, almost as stupid as MKS’s aliens in Signs, but that’s another story. It turns out that the primary goal of the aliens’ attack was to get at the molten iron core of our home planet.

Fair enough,they’re after something we most certainly can’t exist without. If you’ve been paying attention to the disaster movies in the interim, such as The Core, you already understand that the EM field generated by the rotation of our core protects us from the destructive radiation of the sun. Without it, our atmosphere gets stripped away and the sun murders everything on the surface of the Earth. That detail is touched on briefly in the movie, but almost in passing. The point is, we need our core.

For some reason, this alien race needs it, too. This movie presents the alien race as one that desperately desires the molten iron in our core to the point of angrily sending a second, bigger, mother ship with a bigger laser drill to get at the precious metal. Except, it’s not. It’s one of the most common metals in space and is easy to find if you’ve mastered intergalactic space travel. Surely if you have the tech to create wormholes in space to travel faster than light, then you can wander around the various nebulae, toss out an electromagnetic net and trawl your way to your fortune in iron. No need to engage in interplanetary piracy.

Now if the Earth had something stupendously rare and valuable, such as a lump of unobtanium large enough to to power five more global conquests, because, as it turns out, there’s a rapacious, mad interplanetary ┬ámarket for the elusive goo, then that might be interesting.

Alas, no. We are given a premise that turns out to less than pedestrian. It’s sophomoric, and disappointing.

Maybe the mothership and its goal should be seen as a metaphor for the studios and their attempt to drill our wallets for every last cent we have. And as it turns out, the metaphor is prophetic. With an estimated budget of $165 million, it has only grossed $73 million. The queen is getting shit kicked out her in the real world as well.

What do you think, fair readers? What are your thoughts on this movie,whether you’ve seen it or not?

Rules For Trailers

  1. Never show footage from the second half of the movie.
    • If you allow footage from the second half of the movie, people, especially frequent moviegoers, are clever enough to figure out the plot of the movie. You ruin the mystery.
  2. Do not use the trailer to provide a synopsis in brief.


Heat Poster

I like the movie, Heat. Every time I have thoughts about this movie, you’ll find it here.