Willy Wonka is deeply troubled
"Look at me, I have no family and I am a giant success"
Willy seems to be a very traumatized and hurt person. His employment of the Oompa Loompas from their dangerous homes could be seen as a good thing after their discussion and sealed deal. They get to be around more Cocoa beans which they adore and be safe from the harmful creatures that lived below. This could easily be a lie to tell the visitors but the Oompa Loompa's seem to be more of his friends that work than just workers. He has one that cuts his hair, one that listens to him as a therapist and he communicates freely with them. It could be said that they became his friends while living in isolation or they are his employed friends.
His life seems sad and the friction with his father is made known to us as he struggles to mention the word 'parent'. When Charlie asked if he remembered what it was like being a kid, Willy said "Oh boy, Do I" in confirmation but questioned himself saying "Do I?". During this moment, you witness the sadness flush his face from the previous smile. We are notified by the Narrator (voiced by Geoffrey Holder) that Willy had not thought about his childhood in years which could be the result of him trying to suppress it.
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Willy Wonka is the son of the city's most famous dentist, Wilbur Wonka (played by Christopher Lee), and had to have exemplary teeth. The first flashback shows little Willy (played by Blair Dunlop) trick or treating with other kids then returning home with his candy. His father seemed truly terrifying as he talked about the effects of candy and chocolate. You feel bad and empathize with little Willy in his braces and orthodontic headgear asking if he could try a piece not knowing if he’s allergic to Chocolate but his father asks why he should take a chance then throws it all into the fireplace as he watched.
It's not just about his father being a dentist but Willy looked like it took everything in him to ask if he could try one. He was so saddened to see them burning after getting them during his trick-or-treat run. I noticed his costume was a white sheet with cut-out eyes representing a ghost while others were pirates or angels. It seemed to be a simple and maybe rushed costume like he was only allowed to go at the last minute to partake in this often joyous tradition. With his father's discomfort with candy and the effects, he strikes me as someone who might not allow their child to participate but he does saying "let's see what the damage is this year". This indicates Willy has gone before and maybe goes every year. His emotional change was clear from the time of trick or treating to the time he got home. Willy was smiling as he revealed himself to the lady who asked for the identity of the ghost but looked sad at home.
After his flashback, we return to grown Willy looking quite affected by it. Charlie asked if he remembered eating his first piece of candy, he said 'no' but he had another flashback that showed us the solution to his curiosity and the beginning of his love for chocolate and candy. The first piece of chocolate he ate was luckily unharmed in the fireplace and from that moment on this poor boy snuck to eat candies. He jotted the differences between each of them and this truly was the beginning of his aspiration to be a Chocolatier. He wasn't as affected by this flashback, although he got a seemingly traumatic flashback when Mike said "candy is a waste of time" which he heard in his dad's voice. He remembered those words and the memory of their argument which led him to run away.
His father told him no son of his would be a chocolatier and said if Willy were to come back he wouldn't be there anymore. Willy returned home after an obstacle and the house was singled out, uprooted, and removed not even demolished. I know he told Willy he won't be there when he comes back but IT WAS THE SAME DAY and the house vanished?!!
He was saddened, unloved, homeless and hateful. Chocolate and candy were his solaces. This is the reason he believes "a chocolatier has to run free and solo. Look at me, I had no family, and I'm a giant success". When speaking to Charlie about the terms of his offer, he basically called family weight "hanging over your neck like a dead goose" and should "consider that a bonus" if he doesn't see them again. These opinions express how he felt about his father and his limitations.
He couldn't understand that Charlie's family was THAT much of a necessity for Charlie to not leave with him calling it "unexpected and weird". This was new to him because he has never experienced or witnessed anything like that.
After some days, Willy's problems reflected in his candy and business. It's so intertwined in his life that art imitates life or life imitates art. If he's sad, the candy is bad but if he's alright, the candy is great. Like most creatives, this is a real issue that he didn't know how to tackle. He decided to pretend to be a normal customer at Charlie's shoe-shining spot but revealed himself to defend his haircut (as he should!). He asked what made Charlie feel better when he's sad and Charlie's response of family is so disappointing and disgusting he actually said 'ew'.
It's endearing how he baits Charlie to join him to visit his father as he said "at least not by myself". It also shows he's open to reconciliation and knew where his father moved to but was too upset.
His fear is shown as he lies thinking he might be at the wrong house.
THIS is the house in question
His uneasiness is depicted by his expression seeing his father's nameplate. He probably reconsidered doing this before he speechlessly sees his dad.
It's also endearing that his father collected newspaper articles about his business and put them into an album with some framed as well in order to keep up with him.
It was an emotional moment when his father realised that this was his son. Not much is shown about Willy Wonka especially without his glasses and hat. The pictures in the articles were far and from the gates, even the visitors did not know how he looked. Despite being his son, people change and he probably wouldn't have expected a visit, so this is believable. After a dental and character-related statement to portray a connection, they try to show emotion and hug. However, it seemed strange because it has probably never happened and they ended on awful terms. His father looked happy to see him and full of remorse as he seemed to appreciate the hug more than Willy. This could be seen as some closure for Willy knowing his dad loves him despite it not being said.
After Charlie accepted his repeated offer on the grounds that his family joins him, Willy seems to be a regular at the Buckets' residence. After one of their meetings, he accepted to stay for dinner saying "oh, yes, please". He seemed slightly uncomfortable but enthusiastic and pleased to be there.
He may not like rotten children, the concept of family or most people but his encounter with Grandma Georgina (played by Liz Smith) was quite wholesome.
If he had a family, he wouldn't need to do the golden ticket search for an heir to his company. The movie ended with the Narrator saying "In the end, Charlie Bucket won a chocolate factory, but Willy Wonka got something even better - a family" which I agree to. It might not be his actual family or dad but the Buckets were nice to him and seemingly adopted him into their family.
This was originally written in my "Johnny Depp's ICONIC Willy Wonka" write-up.
- I thought about this…Charlie was also the guide in the movie to show us the emotional sides of Willy and give us exposition as well. His two questions gave us very valuable expositions for character depth. Charlie did not talk as much throughout the tour and sort of fell back as the focus shifted to the others. Willy was nicer to Charlie and his family. Charlie could be his humane guide helping him connect back with people which is why Charlie's presence as he returns to his dad before joining the Buckets family is quite symbolic.
- He helped Charlie and Charlie's family and they helped him, emotionally. It's interesting that he would seek solace in Charlie and trust him when he was having issues. To go out on a tangent, in a totally different type of movie Charlie could be his guardian angel. The picture below would be the perfect frame for the typical movie reveal that shows the person's true purpose or power to the audience. Maybe a twinkle from the fingers to show magic or something… okay, I'm done.
This was originally written in my "Don't you want to know our names" Charlie and the Chocolate factory write-up.
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I write on various things: social issues, well-being, cinema and out of curiosity. For contact and all other things, click this. Inactive.
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