Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a classic children’s movie where Charlie Bucket, a poor boy, wins the opportunity of a lifetime to tour Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, the most eccentric and wonderful candy factory of all. This movie possess many positive messages that children may discover while watching, but also portrays possible negative messages that may hinder a child’s thoughts and beliefs.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a movie in which things are either good or bad. One way the director and writers attribute “goodness” to something is to make it small. For example, Charlie is small and undernourished. When he stands outside the factory, the crowd pities Charlie for his small size and fragility. Similarly, Mr. Wonka is also small. The initial descriptions of Mr. Wonka focus on his small stature. Finally, chocolate bars are small. Those who do not take the time to notice them can easily underestimate small things. Charlie, Mr. Wonka, and chocolate bars all have the potential to carry much more weight than one might assume. Charlie’s woeful appearance undermines his inner strength and ability to outlast the other children, eventually taking control of the entire chocolate factory. Mr. Wonka’s small size disguises his intense energy and amazing power. He has the authority to determine children’s fates and grant wishes. A single chocolate bar contains all of Charlie’s hopes and dreams. When Charlie opens it and finds the golden ticket, he realizes just how powerful something small, like he himself, can be. This is one of the main positive messages I discovered after watching this movie that can inspire kids similar to Charlie, as well as adults similar to Willy Wonka, to follow their dreams despite their small stature and limited abilities and upbringing.
However, this movie also contains possibly negative messages, such as suggesting that slave labor, lead by a manager with issues, is acceptable as long as candy is produced. First, Willy Wonka is a man with some problematic concerns. Due to these complications, he “hides away” in his factory, essentially running a sweatshop. Moreover, he is a magical man who is all smiles and charm until one annoys him, such as Veruca Salt, Mike Teavee, Violet Beauregarde, and Augustus Gloop. Once irritated by the other golden ticket winners, his lovable act fades and his rage begins to show. However, when he decides to form a very special relationship with an adolescent in order to pass on his knowledge, nobody views this as strange. Grandpa Joe, who is “bedridden” until golden tickets were mentioned, is delighted that Charlie has found a mentor. Finally, the Oompa Loompas, who are misunderstood, orange people from a foreign land, were recruited by Mr. Wonka, who can be considered a dictator and tyrant in this sense, to run his factory at little to no cost. Obviously, this can be considered slave labor, yet, the filmmakers managed to make this whole affair seem fun by giving them catchy songs, hoping viewers would not notice the reality of the situation. Viewers are celebrating their misery and do not care because they are working in a room made of candy.
Despite Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory including possible negative themes, I believe that the positive messages outweigh these damaging ideas. Audience members seem to always look for the positive take-aways from any movie, wanting to be inspired and motivated in some way where they can apply the same concepts to their own lives. These positive messages are more powerful for the target audience because children tend to want to emulate the related characters, such as Charlie. For example, when I first saw this movie as a child, I wanted to be Charlie Bucket. I was extremely jealous of his accomplishments, as well as respectful of him for overcoming his own difficulties with such an optimistic attitude. I assumed that if I possessed the same attitudes and qualities as Charlie, I would be granted some extravagant reward, even though at that time, I still believed that Willy Wonka and his factory truly existed. Furthermore, in the case of this movie, children are affected more by these positive themes because they share a universal love of candy due to their age. Also, it may be hard for children to pick up on the negative topics due to the fact that children are not fully aware of worldwide issue, such as slave labor, and because these messages are less overt than their positive counterparts. Personally, I did not discover these possibly harming subject matters until I was older, developed a stronger cultural awareness, and focused on other, specific scenes.