I’m sure you have seen this meme, and know it to be very true, especially if you grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. I know I did in 3rd grade when Ms. Sullivan let us watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I don’t know what was more exciting, getting to sit on the floor wherever we wanted with our best buddies or not having to do any schoolwork. We were always hoping that she didn’t pay close attention to the time and it turned into an all afternoon affair.
Willy Wonka was more than just a movie, well, to a 3rd grader that is…it was magical, I just knew someday I would find that golden ticket in some random chocolate bar. This lovable movie (the original that is) was released in 1971, but still popular by the time I got to 3rd grade. I think it just has that timeless feel, it’s a mysterious yet magical look into Charlie, a young boy’s belief that goodness has yet to disappear.
Charlie lives in poverty with his mother and four grandparents. He is a hard worker and always has a smile on his face no matter the undesirable conditions he lives in. On his way home from school one day, his paper route took him past the gate of the town’s mystical candy factor, Willy Wonka’s. As he looked through the gates, a townsperson walked by, telling Charlie that “nobody ever goes in, and nobody ever comes out”. Charlie tells his Grandpa Joe what the townsperson had told him. He explains that the man was right because many years before, another candy maker was sending spies into Wonka’s factory to steal his amazing candy secrets. Because of this, Wonka locked the gates, and got rid of all his employees. Shortly after, the factory started up again, but still, no one knew who was making Wonka’s candy.
A contest soon started. It had five golden tickets hidden in Wonka chocolate bars. The lucky five would get to tour the infamous candy factory and get a lifetime supply of chocolate. The craziness started and the world was frantic to find a golden ticket. Veruca, Violet, Agustus, Mike Teevee, and Charlie were the lucky five and looked forward to the day they would step foot into the magical world of Willy Wonka.
Slugworth, the “bad-guy” who secretly told each child to steal an everlasting gobstopper so that he can get the secret ingredients and make it his own. Unbeknownst, to the lucky 5 and their 1 guest that were allowed to go along with them, didn’t know that the factory was something of an amusement park with different trials or levels to get through… because Willy Wonka had already made up his mind that one of these 5 would be the one to take over the factory under the conditions of being honest, with an unspoiled outlook on humanity, still naive of the harsh society we live in.
Throughout the movie each child either does something they aren’t supposed to or acts rotten, getting them nothing but a one-way ticket out of the fun yet kooky factory. After watching Willy Wonka as an adult, I can now see that each child falls short of the winnings from their own selfish flaws. I can remember thinking how much fun it would be to go through some sort of place like the one portrayed in this colorful movie. Each time one of the children were illuminated for whatever reason, the short orange-faced men with green hair would come retrieve them singing some rendition of their original tune…“Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-do. I have a perfect puzzle for you. Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-dee. If you are wise, you’ll listen to me”
Finally, just when you think that Charlie has won the lifetime supply of chocolate, Wonka throws a fit telling his Grandpa Joe that Charlie has gone against the rules and contract he signed; when Wonka throws them out, Grandpa Joe declares that he’ll give “Slugworth” the gobstopper he requested. But Charlie, who has a pure heart goes back to Wonka’s desk and lays the gobstopper (that he and the other children acquired during their tour of the factory) down beside Wonka’s hand and walks away, leaving Wonka surprised. Wonka whispers to himself “So shines a good deed in a weary world”.
Now, in 3rd grade, that was just another line in a movie but, today, I know that poignant line means that even though we live in a world that can be downright atrocious at times, we can still do the right thing, or still find goodness among each other.
Mr. Wonka apologizes to Charlie for putting him through all of that, but that he had to test him and that he knew he would pass and he did, and not only did he receive the lifetime supply of chocolate but he had won everything, the factory, all the secrets, the Oompa Loompas and that he could move in right away along with his mother, Grandpa Joe and the rest of this family.
There has been a remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory…but for me, it just lacks the element of surprise and the innocence of childhood. And if we can still hope for that good deed in a weary world, I think we need all the ingredients childhood has to offer, so that it’s easier to stay young at heart, stay optimistic and stay hopeful.