Starring Gene Wilder in the title role, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
may not be the most faithful Roald Dahl adaptation to hit the big screen, but there’s a strong argument that it’s the best. Even Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, with their 2005 release Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
, couldn’t come close to this 1971 musical version.
Even nearly four decades later, it’s a surprisingly dark yet ultimately utterly joyful film, as Charlie Bucket finds his golden ticket and gets to join four gruesome children on a tour of the factory of the film’s title. What’s more, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is packed with toe-tapping, memorable musical numbers, a terrific cast of young performers, and a memorable lead performance from Wilder. His Willy Wonka is a complex creation, veering unpredictably between likeable and quite sinister. And it’s a performance that sticks in the mind long, long after the credits have rolled.
The Blu-ray release sadly doesn’t present the copious extra material in high definition, but the main feature has benefited from a solid improvement. It’s a bright, colourful and imaginative film for long periods, and the transfer work is up to the job. There are moments where the material shows its age a little, but this is a good upgrade from the DVD edition, and the picture and audio both show genuine improvements. It’s also the finest way to own what’s undoubtedly the best version of the book to make it to the big screen to date. As fine an actor as Johnny Depp is, his Willy Wonka simply doesn’t hold a candle to Mr Wilder’s…. --Jon Foster
Join the expedition visiting legendary Candy Man Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) in a splendiferous movie that wondrously brings to the screen the endlessly appetising delights of Roald Dahl’s classic book. Coated with flavorful tunes and production design that constantly dazzles the eye, this effervescent musical never fails to enchant young and old. On a whirlwind tour of Willy’s incredible, edible realm of chocolate waterfalls, elfish Oompa-Loompas and industrial-sized confections, a boy named Charlie (Peter Ostrum) will discover the sweetest secret of all: a generous, loving heart. And you’ll rediscover the timeless magic of a delicious family classic.