Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"Pure imagination."

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a 1971 American musical fantasy family film directed by Mel Stuart, and starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. It is an adaptation of the 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. The script was reworked with major changes to the ending and added musical numbers, against Dahl's wishes.

Author Roald Dahl adapted his own novel, Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley wrote a memorable musical score, and producer David Wolper wisely cast Gene Wilder as Wonka in this film musical about a contest put on by an often-sadistic candymaker. Harkening back to the classic Hollywood musicals, Willy Wonka is surreal, yet playful at the same time, and suffused with Harper Goff's jaw-dropping color sets, which richly live up to the fanciful world found in one of the film's signature songs, "Pure Imagination." Wilder's brilliant portrayal of the enigmatic Wonka caused theatergoers to like and fear Wonka at the same time, while the hallucinogenic tunnel sequence has traumatized children (and adults) for decades, their nightmares indelibly emblazoned in memory like the scariest scenes from The Wizard of Oz.

(Description copied from "Brief Descriptions and Expanded Essays of National Film Registry Titles", which the Library of Congress has placed into the public domain. See also the LOC's Expanded essay by Brian Scott Mednick.)

In 2005 it was remade as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka.

The film was named to the National Film Registry in 2014.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is the Trope Namer for:
  • The Wonka: The eccentric boss and owner of the factory.
Tropes used in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory include:
  • Adaptation Expansion: The entire Slugworth plot. In the book, Charlie got the factory as soon as the other kids were out of the running and didn't have to pass a final test.
  • Adapted Out: Mr. Bucket died before any of the movie's main plot begins. Though in the original book, he lived to see the credits.
  • An Aesop: The Oompa-Loompa songs.

Who do you blame when your kid is a... BRAT?
Pampered and spoiled like a Siamese Cat?
Blaming the kids is a lie and a shame.
You know exactly who's to blame:
The Mother and the Father!

    • Charlie's is temptation, Veruca's is greed, Augustus' is gluttony, Mike's is laziness, and Violet's is pride. All are tied by the common theme of self-indulgence.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: In a brief scene during the "world-wide obsession" segment, this scene:

Tech: Gentlemen, I know how anxious you've all been during these last few days, but now I think I can safely say that your time and money have been well spent. We're about to witness the greatest miracle of the machine age. Based on the revolutionary Computonian Law of Probability, this machine will tell us the precise location of the three remaining Golden Tickets. [He punches some computer buttons, and reads the card it emits] It says, "I won't tell. That would be cheating." I am now telling the computer that, if it will tell me the correct answer, I will gladly share with it the grand prize. [pushes more buttons] He says, "What would a computer do with a lifetime supply of chocolate?" I am now telling the computer exactly what he can do with a lifetime supply of chocolate.


Wonka: But Charlie, don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted.
Charlie: What happened?
Wonka: He lived Happily Ever After.

  • Big Door: In the Chocolate Room. The door was small on one side and big on the other.
  • Big Eater: Augustus, his father even moreso.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Wonka's random bursts of French and German.
    • There's also a bicultural version. When Mr. Beauregarde asks Mr. Salt what business he's in, he replies "Nuts." To a Brit this may seem like a very straightforward answer, but in the US it's the equivalent of "Get stuffed."
  • Blatant Lies: "You're going to love this. Just love it."
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Wonka cares more about the production and the quality of confectionery than the safety of children. I have been told that this is not usual.
    • Granted, he is testing them, so his concerns for their safety are probably nonexistent. Plus, he talks about the solutions as if they were standard emergency procedures, likely because they do have accidents like those from time to time.
  • Book Ends: The DVD Commentary begins and ends with Denise Nickerson (Violet) asking for gum.
  • Brick Joke:
    • When Wonka is looking through his mail near the end, he says, "I really must answer that one from the Queen." During the "Looking For The Tickets" sequence early on, the Queen of England shows up to an auction of the last case of Wonka bars in the UK. She was likely not amused when she did not find a ticket.
    • Violet tells Veruca, "Can it, you nit!", and then says to her, "Stop squawking, you twit!". Finally Grandpa Joe says she won't listen to Wonka "Because she's a nitwit."
  • Broken Aesop: Charlie is no more able to resist temptation than the other children. He (and Grandpa Joe) simply have 1) the good sense to not give in while everyone else is standing around and 2) the good fortune to survive relatively intact after doing so.
    • The final test likely absolved their temptation, at least in Wonka's eyes. A poor boy, whose family sees a loaf of bread as a banquet, is offered what amounts to a king's ransom for a piece of candy given to him by the man who dashed all his dreams. Pretty big temptation right there. Note that Veruca, Violet, and Mike showed no signs of returning their Gobstoppers.
      • Not that they really had had much of a chance to do so before their own personal misfortunes...
  • Burping Contest: Charlie and Grandpa Joe have one to bring themselves down after ingesting Wonka's Fizzy Lifting Drinks.
  • Call Back: When Wonka meets the contest winners for the first time, he says, "Come! We have so much time and so little to see!" Then he stops and says, "Wait. Strike that, reverse it!" At the end of the movie, when Charlie wins the contest, he makes the same joke.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Wonka is pretty much like this throughout the movie. He reaches his high point when Mike decides to jump into the TV teleporter; Wonka, having given warnings to the other kids before the factory claims them, attempts to warn Mike in a tone somewhere between exhausted and bored. You can tell the guy's done caring by this point.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Willy Wonka.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Mr. Salt just laughs when Veruca falls down the garbage chute and Wonka says it leads to the furnace, but jumps in to rescue her when Wonka speculates that she could just be stuck inside the chute.
    • Arguably, given how Veruca treats her father, he reacts to it as if he may finally be rid of her!
      • Or, alternately, the laughter could be because he's in shock.
  • Cool Old Guy: Grandpa Joe.
  • Crowd Song
  • Cultural Translation: Both Mike Teevee and Violet Beauregarde are American in this version (and Augustus Gloop is German) -- although since the characters' nationalities were left deliberately ambiguous in the book and the tickets were explicitly said to be available all over the world, this is a relatively realistic touch. On a less thought-out level, though, several of the English characters use Americanisms (like "candy" when referring to sweets), and their currency is, for some reason, dollars.
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: Charlie and Grandpa Joe narrowly escape one during the Fizzy Lifting Drinks scene.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Wonka and Grandpa Joe.
  • Depth Deception: The hallway to the Chocolate Room.
  • Disappeared Dad: Charlie's dad died sometime before the story starts.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: "There's no earthly way of knowing... Which direction we are going..."

Violet: What is this, a freak-out!?

  • Earn Your Happy Ending: When Charlie gave Wonka the everlasting gobstopper, Wonka went from being angry to being excited and overjoyed, and told Charlie that it was just a test. And declared Charlie the Winner. Wonka also told Charlie that "Slugworth" was actually Mr. Wilkinson, possibly Wonka's only human employee.
    • Wonka: Hey, Charlie? My boy, YOU WON! YOU DID IT I KNEW YOU WOULD DO IT! I JUST KNEW IT! Oh, Charlie, I am sorry to putting you through it. (To Wilkinson) Come here, Wilkinson. Charlie, Meet my friend, Mr. Wilkinson.
  • Enfant Terrible: Veruca Salt.
  • Enforced Method Acting
    • The cast wasn't allowed to see the Chocolate Room set until the moment when they first emerge into the room was shot, so their reactions are genuine.
    • Similarly, the scene when the Oompa Loompas walk out for the first time was unscripted; all the reactions that the actors have to them are real.
    • Charlie's reaction to Wonka declaring he would get nothing due to defying the contract ("Good day sir!") is also genuine; in rehearsals Gene Wilder (Wonka) intentionally held back how angry he would be so Peter Ostrum (Charlie) would be surprised.
    • For the riverboat scene, Wonka's ranting poem was not in the script, hence the disturbed looks on the actors' faces, who thought Wilder was actually losing his mind.
  • Establishing Character Moment: See Obfuscating Disability below.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The factory from the outside.
  • Face Palm: Wonka during Veruca's "I Want" Song, watching her smash up the golden egg room.
  • The Film of the Book
  • Food Porn: The opening, for those who love chocolate.
  • Free Prize At the Bottom: The golden tickets being hidden inside candy wrappers is a variant of this trope.
  • Greek Chorus: The Oompa-Loompas.
  • Good All Along: "Slugworth" turns out to be Wonka's employee, posing a Secret Test of Character to the contest winners.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Grandpa George.
  • Hollywood Law: Wonka makes the children sign a contract before the factory tour. A minor cannot legally enter into a contract. In real life, their parents (or, in Charlie's case, Grandpa Joe) would have had to sign for them.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The factory is one long series of puns.

Wonka: (dropping a shoe into a pot) Gives it a little kick.


Wonka: I know a worse one.

  • "I Am" Song: Played with: "The Candy Man" celebrates a title character who hasn't been seen in years and who turns out to be more eccentric and tricky than the song implies. Wonka himself sings "Pure Imagination", which not only fits better, but has some of the best "I Am" choreography one could want.
  • I'm Thinking It Over: "It's your husband's life or your case of Wonka Bars!"
  • "I Want" Song: Veruca has "I Want It Now", appropriately enough, which crosses this over with Villain Song.

I want a feast!
I want a bean feast!
Cream buns and doughnuts and fruitcake with no nuts so good you could go nuts.
No, now!
I want a ball! I want a party!
Pink macaroons and a million balloons and performing baboons and...
Give it to me Now!

  • Karmic Death: If the kids actually died (which isn't clear), the deaths would count as both Disproportionate Retribution and this. A glutton gets carried away for drinking too much chocolate, a gum-obsessed girl gets deformed by gum, a boy who can't stop watching TV gets shrunken by a TV, and a bratty girl and her ultra-indulgent father die while she's insisting on being given everything in sight.
  • Lady Drunk: How Mrs. Salt is portrayed, complete with the obligatory martini glass.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: "She was a bad egg."
    • Happens to all the other children as well (though in Charlie's case it's good karma being rewarded).
  • Merchandise-Driven: The only reason this film was made was because Quaker Oats wanted to develop a new candy line, and agreed to put up the US$3 million the movie cost, in effect as an advertisement for the new candies mentioned in the film. If you see the film, you will note that the copyright owners are the Wolper Corporation and The Quaker Oats Company. (The candy flopped because of a botched recipe that left the bars literally melting on the shelves, meaning they had to be pulled. The Wonka brand was later revived by Nestle and still exists in a case of Defictionalization).
  • Mood Whiplash
  • Mouthy Kid: Veruca and Violet.
  • Motor Mouth: Violet really takes it to ridiculous levels.
  • The Musical: An all-out example compared to the structure of the book.
  • Musical World Hypotheses: #3 Diegetic. Lampshaded in both films.
  • Nice Hat: Willy Wonka's caramel topper. There was no way this couldn't sound like a euphemism.

Veruca: Who says I can't?
Mr. Salt: The man in the funny hat...

  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Done quite deliberately. All of the cast who are not explicitly identified as being from a certain location/region just use their own accents. This is particularly obvious in the scenes set in Charlie's hometown, as not being able to pin down a common accent increases the feeling of Where the Hell Is Springfield?. For everyone else, it just emphasises the global nature of the ticket hunt (though the main accents are German, British and American).
  • Obfuscating Disability: Willy Wonka's introduction. As Wonka walks out limping with a cane, he leaves the cane stuck in the cobblestones, teeters a bit, and then does a somersault. Gene Wilder wanted to do this as a warning from the first moment that neither the audience nor the characters could completely trust Wonka.
  • Oktoberfest: During the scene where we first meet Augustus Gloop.
  • One-Scene Wonder
    • Several examples during the world-wide scramble for the golden tickets, but the standout is probably the English comedy-actor Tim Brooke-Taylor as a... peeved... computer operator. (See Getting Crap Past the Radar.)
    • David Battley as the teacher Mr. Turkentine...who can't seem to do a lick of math (or chemistry). The director mentioned that Battley's part was originally going to be very small, but was expanded slightly because he did such a wonderful job.
  • One-Book Author: Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie, never acted again after this movie. He's now a veterinarian.
  • Out of Focus: Augustus Gloop barely speaks in the film, mainly because the actor spoke barely any English.
    • Not surprisingly, he hardly speaks during the "reunion" DVD commentary, either.
  • Perspective Magic: Wonka's factory has fun with this.
  • Please, I Will Do Anything!: Early on, we're shown a woman whose husband has been kidnapped. She says she'll do anything to get him back... and then the kidnappers demand her case of Wonka bars. All of a sudden, she needs time to think it over.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation
    • Actually, both this and the 2005 adaptation address the problem that at the moment Charlie begins the factory tour in the book, he becomes a completely passive non-entity who does nothing to earn the prize at the end outside of staying out of trouble.
    • Dahl left the production because his original script made everyone unlikable.
    • The switch from squirrels/nuts to geese/eggs probably resulted at least in part from recognizing that even if they sprang for the special effects required it would have almost certainly ended up looking pretty bad done with the technology of the time.
  • Pretty in Mink: Although Veruca had furs because she was spoiled, Julie Dawn Cole actually wore a custom made little mink coat made for the part. Sadly, someone stole it during production...
  • Read the Fine Print: Part of the "You lose!" rant points out a clause concerning Fizzy Lifting Drinks. A very small clause.
  • Recognition Failure: Mrs. Teevee confidently identifies the theme from Mozart's Magic Flute that Wonka uses for a passcode as a composition by Rachmaninoff.
  • Secret Test: The Slugworth plot, which serves to show that at least some of Wonka's quirkiness was Obfuscating Stupidity so that no one formed any outside attachment to him.
  • Shrink Ray: The Wonkavision TV camera that shrinks down thing (and people).
  • Solid Gold Poop: The geese that lay golden chocolate eggs.
  • Songs in the Key of Lock: Wonka has a flute key, and the door to his main chocolate room opens to a snippet from The Magic Flute by Mozart (which Mrs. Teevee misidentifies as Rachmaninoff).
  • Stoner Flick
  • Surprise Creepy/Surreal Horror: The boat ride.
  • Technology Porn: The opening sequence showing the creation of the chocolate bars.
  • Tempting Fate: Grandpa Joe in the Fizzy Lifting Drink room: "A swallow won't hurt us!"
  • Too Dumb to Live: The bratty kids, especially Violet.
  • Too Many Halves: Willy says "Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple." Mrs. Teevee points out that that adds up to 105%.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Wonka himself.
  • What Is This, X?: During the boat ride:

Violet: What is this, a freak-out!?

  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: While the bratty kids' countries are identified (Augustus is German, Veruca is English, Mike and Violet are American), Charlie's and thus Wonka's is left vaguely American-English-ish. It was shot in Munich, and this was intentional on the part of the filmmakers so the story would retain some timelessness.
  • World Gone Mad: Wonka's factory, particularly his office, in which there is only half of everything.
    • It's possible that Wonka is a genuine Half-Wit, and here's the proof.