Thursday, August 25, 2005

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Not since Minority Report have I had my expectations of a movie been so vastly exceeded.

This was far more interesting than I would have thought from the previews.

The movie is carefully titled: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The 1971 film that we are all familiar with was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

The change is significant. This film is about Charlie and what he has that none of the other characters possess: Significance and Maturity.

The film showcases the powerful parable that Roald Dahl created about parents, children and what is truly important.

As will all great parables the moral is a mature balance between extremes.

Veruca: always buying but never feeling content.

Augustus: always eating but never full.

Mike TV: Always entertained but no joy.

Violet: always achieving but never satisfied.

Each child represents the age old trap that parents fall into by giving their children what they want, rather than what they need.

What they need is what Charlie has, and Willy has not.

Charlie has little food, belongings, achievement or entertainments. What he has is a family of mature adults who give him grace and truth. Charlie has boundaries and real responsibility because his parents have the same and have begun to pass these things onto him.

Willy's character is much different in this film than in the 1971 version. In this film he is not whimsical or lovable. I believe he is intended to be a mirror of Michael Jackson: an adult struggling to find a childhood that was crushed by a Father's expectations.

In this version Willy's father is a dentist who forbade candy and demanded bizarre and torturous headgear braces for Willy's teeth. So Willy grows up to be a candy maker who builds a factory that has much in common with the Neverland Ranch: An very odd aging owner running around with children doing bizarre and childlike things.

We report, you decide.

I also think the Mike TV character is meant to evoke the two teenage Columbine murderers. Mike is introduced as being from Denver, CO and is found playing terribly violent video games as his passive parent looks on.

We report... yeah, yeah.

Finally, the climactic scene in this film is when Charlie chooses his family (and his responsibilities to them) over the passing pleasures of the flesh (represented by the other children).

This maturity, nurtured by the connection to his loved ones, is what all of the other characters lack, and what Willy finally finds.

Even though this movie lacked the emotional climax of the 1971 film, it is a much more profound statement: The hero is more truly heroic, and the moral is profoundly moral.

I suspect I will use this film as an illustration of the differences between maturity and immaturity in children and adults.

My Rating: Own It

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