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Why The World Doesn’t Need Another ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ Movie

With a prequel lined up for 2023, there seems to be a Willy Wonka for every generation

Rolling Stone India May 29, 2021

Actor Gene Wilder in a still from 'Charlie and The Chocolate Factory' (1971), which spawned a meme template.

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When you think about it, it’s justified to be jealous of the five golden ticket winners who went on to visit the ultra-enigmatic Willy Wonka’s chocolate world — especially Charlie. This childhood classic will soon return to a screen near you as Warner Bros is all set to revisit the fantastical world of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory for the third time with a new film titled Wonka, set for release in March 2023. 

Although not much is revealed about the plot yet, we know that Wonka will be a prequel to the franchise and revolve around a young Willy Wonka’s adventures. The upcoming reboot will star Timothée Chalamet (Lady Bird, Beautiful Boy) as the younger version of Willy Wonka, before becoming a world-renowned chocolatier. Wonka will be directed by Paul King (Paddington, Paddington 2) and based on a script co-written with Simon Farnaby (Paddington 2). Reportedly, the production will be a musical and see Timothée Chalamet in a different avatar as he tries his hand at a La La Land-esque format.

Warner Bros initially released the first movie in 1971, based on the 1964 novel, starring Gene Wilder as the eccentric protagonist. More than three decades later, in 2005, its reboot, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, received worldwide appreciation for its humor-driven approach to fantasy and a quality cinematic experience. In between, the original film adaptation even regained popularity owing to the Internet co-opting Gene Wilder’s Wonka for a condescending/sarcastic meme format.

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However, 16 years later, the decision of adding yet another movie to the franchise with Wonka seems a little out of place — and a little problematic. As seen in the 2005 version, Wonka (Johnny Depp) was a troubled child who leaves home (and an abusive father) at a young age to chase his dreams. Fast-forwarding to adulthood, he discovered Loompaland — the land of the Oompa-Loompas — from where he sourced the “world’s best cocoa beans” for his chocolate which explains his immense popularity in the fictional world. Although this information is sufficient to support the plot, Wonka aims to delve deeper into the troubled past and the exciting adventures of the character. 

While this may have fans at the edge of their seats, the past of Willy Wonka consists of some pressing issues. In the original book, Roald Dahl wrote of Loompaland to be situated in Africa where the Oompa Loompas were black. However, due to allegations of racism, Dahl later changed the description of the community. Neither the previous movies nor the book not discount that Willy Wonka invaded the land of the cocoa bean only to rehabilitate and possibly enslave the Oompa Loompas as factory workers. Not only will this be a challenge to showcase without patronizing Wonka’s actions, but the movie may also delve into his struggle with Schizotypal Personality Disorder, which can’t be easy given the makers’ aspirations and cinema-goers’ expectations. As more details emerge over the next two years, we’ll know if the candy is indeed dandy enough.

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