Monday, October 19, 2009


Watching a kids’ movie when you’re actually a kid is really something. Watching that same movie years later can be pretty risky. You could taint the entire memory by watching it with jaded, adult eyes. Or, if you want to see things more positively, maybe you get to escape your difficult adult life for a couple of hours and feel what it felt like to be a kid again. With WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, just re-released by Warner Home Video as a BD book, the experience offers a little from column A and a little more from column B. I don’t remember the oompa-loompas being quite so judgmental but I had also forgotten something infinitely more important – that anyone can find a golden ticket if they look for it.

The picture has been beautifully restored, allowing Mr. Wonka’s factory, made almost entirely of candy and chocolate, to burst with fruit flavour right off the screen. The budgetary and technological limitations that the production would have endured in 1971 are fairly evident now but the unbridled imagination of director, Mel Stuart, and writer, Roald Dahl, still shine through. As for the preachy lessons each little girl and boy learn along their journey from the little orange men who run Wonka’s factory, whether it be not to be a brat or not to watch too much television, they certainly can be a little jarring. That said, what does one expect from a film that was originally conceived to be a promotional tool to launch the new Wonka chocolate bar from Quaker Oats?

The BD book is naturally stunning. Each page explodes with colour and the content is a great surface read about the production and its players. Special features include a vintage featurette from the period about the film’s art direction as well as a new featurette that allows us to catch up with all the kids and of course, Mr. Wonka himself, the incredible Gene Wilder. The feature commentary track that reunites all the kids from the film is a little awkward but who needs that when all the songs have a sing-along option?

Who can take tomorrow, wrap it in a dream, suck out all the sorrow and collect up all the cream? You guessed it; the candyman can! And thanks to this new BD re-issue, the candyman can for generations to come.


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