If i have to choose a story*, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is the real deal for me, the Gene Wilder’s version.
A poor child by the name Charlie is struck by luck: he wins the golden ticket for a ride in the Chocolate Factory. And he can go with his grandpa, too! The factory is full of wonders, sweet sweet wonders that you can taste as you wish. But there is a ruler in this factory. A man you cannot trust, but a man with a strong belief in what is right and what is wrong. So when this man, Wonka, walk Charlie and the others winners trough the factory, warn them about the rules and put them on test, no one is safe. Because the trials are subtle: no one knows when a choice is the one that make or ruin their quest among candies. So one by one all the kids go down the drain, some literally. Because they choose the wrong path in the factory, because their parents choose the wrong path when they raise them. Charlie thinks that he’s the one, the chosen, the winner but no: Wonka knows best and say that Charlie, too, broke the rules. And Charlie knows its true. But he also knows whats right and show this to Wonka. And thats the real win. For Charlie, for his grandpa, and for Wonka.
And for me. I won one of the best movie and the best story that i ever witnessed in my life. I was probably 8 when i watched it for the first time on television. It was christmas. I don’t know why, and it became a little joke here in Italy, but every year during christmas time, Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory is on tv. With The Blues Brothers, and Trading Places. So, to me, is also strongly connected with christmas and family feelings, no school, a lot of free time with friends and so on. But personal anecdotes asides, i like so much the movie for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it takes no sugarcoating the punishment of the kids the misbehave: every child that broke the rules, deserve his upcommance no matter how cruel and (probably) painful is. Maybe its a little too black-and-white in his morals, but i think works wonderful in making its point about education and parenting.
Then there is Gene Wilder, one of my favorite actor. When i was a kid i did not know it, but it was Wilder that made some of the best character development about Wonka, forging one of the best villains or maybe dark mentor of all time. You know the scene when he appear for the first time before us, the viewers, and the characters in the movie: he made a fool of them all mimicking a limp when in reality is agile like an acrobat. So, that’s the moment when Wonka make his silent statement: you cannot know when I lies and when I don’t.
This ambiguity run trough the whole movie, making what the characters see inside the factory something beautiful, outstanding, unexpected and a little eerie. They know that what they see cant really be possible and real, but it is nonetheless real, tangible and edible. But with so much wonder there is an unsetting sense of danger in the air, made evident with the ride trough the tunnel and the fate that almost all the kids endure along the ride.
As a kid and later a teenager and now an adult, this is a movie that work on many levels and can deliver a blend of atmospheres like little others. It make you laugh, it make you chill, it make you crave candies, it make you think. For me as a writer in training, its something to enjoy, admire, watch for pleasure and study as a way, maybe, to became a little better in my work.
So this is it some reasons because i am 33 years old and i watch it every christmas, no matter what. And every time it deliver.