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Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

“Wonka:” an artfully executed exploration of a beloved chocolatier

photo+courtesy+of+IMDb
photo courtesy of IMDb

Derived from the magical world of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” a children’s novel written by Roald Dahl, “Wonka” explores the backstory of the eccentric chocolatier, Willy Wonka. The film released to theaters Friday, Dec. 15, with Timothee Chalamet headlining as Wonka.

When reading “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” or watching either of the previous movie renditions of the same book, the most noticeable feature is a strong disconnection from reality. Whether it is the first meeting of Willy Wonka in the 1971 film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” or his Mad-Hatter-esque appearance in Tim Burton’sCharlie and the Chocolate Factory,” something is distinctly different about him. He is expressive and mysterious, and interacts in an uncaring way. In every book or screen appearance, he is in control of his situation and there is nothing anyone can do to change that. Throughout the movies, Wonka’s appeal is his childlike curiosity paired with a weary sort of cynicism that lurks in the background as motivation for his decisions. “Wonka” explores this control, and perhaps some of the reasons behind his cynicism. 

“The greedy beat the needy,” is often said throughout the film, and from the very start, it is obvious just how needy Wonka is. In the matter of a day, he spends every last coin he has and finds himself being taken advantage of by a couple of swindlers, who trick passersby into signing over years of their lives because they did not read the fine print. This unfortunate incident is followed by his failure to sell any chocolate due to the intervention of three greedy businessmen, who fear his chocolatiering abilities.

While it is not completely perfect in design, “Wonka” keeps its promises in an exciting way, and for anybody looking for a little lighthearted fun and  smile, it is definitely worth the watch.”

Without batting an eye, Wonka resumes his schemes with assistance from newly met friend and fellow orphan Noodle (Calah Lane), and the adventure truly begins. Songs and whimsical montages of success, escape and desire blend into one another as they traipse through the city, fueling their success with chocolate and dreams. All the while, the businessmen and a slew of powerful individuals corrupted by them try to thwart Wonka and his plans to open his own chocolate shop. All the while, Wonka continues on. 

Never once does he lament, complain or ask why anyone would want to be so cruel or evil, nor is he jaded enough to think it is the simple way of the world. He never gets angry or acts entitled, and simply remains Wonka. Only a brief moment of discontent, as a result of memories of his long dead mother, puts a frown on Chalamet’s face, and once resolved, he is back to his old ways. 

At the end of the day, Wonka is as we expect. He is outrageous, smiley and entirely absurd. He is so much larger than life that even as the audience learns about his back story, he feels distant. This distance, however, is beautifully executed and fits his character almost as well as his magical hat and snappy banter. The plot lines that are less relevant are resolved in absurd ways — oftentimes with a fantastical chocolate that puts people to sleep or makes them levitate — and they only serve to further Wonka’s fantastical, unafflicted character. He is as his chocolates are: unhinged in the best way possible. 

From start to finish, Wonka is the kind of character that both people in the movie and the audience want in their lives. Chalamet’s vivid and expressive performance brought to life a wonderfully written character that is both ethereal and completely believable at the same time. While it is not completely perfect in design, “Wonka” keeps its promises in an exciting way, and for anybody looking for a little lighthearted fun and  smile, it is definitely worth the watch.

 

What did you think of the Wonka movie? Let us know in the comments below?

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About the Contributor
Josiah Anderson, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Senior Josiah Anderson is the co-editor-in-chief of Bearing News and the Sports Editor. He is also the announcer for RBHS Baseball. In his free time, Josiah likes to read, write, watch the Cardinals and play disc golf.

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