Come with me
And you'll be
In a world of pure imagination
Take a look
And you'll see
Into your imagination
From Roald Dahl's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the sequel novel Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, and Warner Bros. movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory:
Note: This writeup deals primarily with the movie version of Wonka. My apologies to the novel purists put off by my portrayal of this classic nutbar.
In the minds of Charlie Bucket's grandfather and many others, Willy Wonka is the greatest candy maker in the history of the world. His chocolates titilate the tastebuds, his snozberries taste like snozberries! For years, Wonka worked out of Britain in a large factory that rivaled even car manufacturers in size, until the day that his rival Arthur Slugworth had spies make their way into the factory and steal the secrets to making Wonka's incredible delicacies.
From that day on, Wonka closed the factory to outsiders. Nobody ever went in, and nobody ever went out. Inside the factory, however, he was still thriving. Pumping out chocolates and candies at full speed - even creating new experiences for your mouth such as the Scrumdidilyumptious bar.
However, Wonka knew he could not live forever and would need an heir to take over production in the factory. Having never married and not being a father, he had to turn to the outside world. So he held a contest in which five lucky people, that bought his candy (of course - such the businessman he was...) and found a golden ticket, could enter and view his creation(s). In secret, he set a trap for each contestant. One of his own men would pose as Arthur Slugworth and bribe each child to divulge secrets viewed in the factory. Wonka knew that only a child pure of heart could ignore Slugworth and carry on the factory duties as Wonka would, instead of in his or her own way.
If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it.
Anything you want to, do it.
Want to change the world?
Standing upright, Wonka is not a terribly intimidating man. He is lanky, frail, and somewhat eccentric. Dressing in crushed purple velvet jackets and top hats, he is every bit the showman. Speaking often in verse, Wonka makes himself somewhat difficult to understand to the common man. His statement that "We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams" would go on to spark poetry and music that Dahl couldn't have possibly anticipated (well, to be fair, it likely came from poetry that anticipated Dahl). Willy's manner enstills excitement, love, fear, and compassion all at the same time. Though he is vital to the story line, Wonka does not play a huge part in the novel or movie (in comparison to Charlie anyway). He and his army of politically incorrect workers (the oompa loompas were originally written as African pigmes - the slavery possibility puts a bit of a twist on the story if I may say so myself, which is probably why Warner Bros. and subsequent releases of the novel changed them) serve to provide moral instruction to the reader in the form of prose, witty comebacks, and genuine selflessness towards his guests.
Violet Bouregard: *picking her nose* Spitting is a nasty habit!
Wonka: I know a worse one...
At the same time, one almost thinks he might be a little cruel, possibly even sadistic towards the children he doesn't care for. He shows a complete lack of sympathy for the children that screw up in his factory, especially when it could result in their death...
Mrs. Gloop: Don't just stand there! Do something!
Wonka: (Rolls eyes) Help... police... murder...
Mrs. Gloop: My son! He'll be made into marshmallows in five seconds!
Wonka: Impossible, my dear lady! That's absurd! Unthinkable!
Mrs. Gloop: Why?!
Wonka: Because that pipe doesn't GO to the MARSHMALLOW rooom! It goes to the FUDGE room!
Mrs. Gloop: You terrible man!
Wonka: Well, fortunately, small boys are extremely springy and elastic. So I think we'll put him in my special taffy-pulling machine. That should do the trick.
Wonka: (To an Oompa Loompa) To the taffy-pulling room. You'll find the boy in his mother's purse. But be extremely careful.
Mrs. Teevee: To the taffy-pulling room?!
(Oompa Loompa whispers to Wonka.)
Wonka: (to Oompa Loompa) No, no. I won't hold you responsible...
Charlie Bucket: Mr. Wonka, they won't really be burned in the furnace, will they?
Wonka: Well, I think that furnace is only lit every other day, so they have a good sporting chance, haven't they?
And of course, as noted, he is the model stereotype of a businessman when he needs to be. When the children enter the factory, they are asked to sign a contract with fine print such as would make car dealers envious. It is this contract that almost keeps Charlie from inheriting the factory... almost...
Wonka: Wrong, sir! Wrong! Under section 37B of the contract signed by him, it states quite clearly that all offers shall become null and void if -- and you can read it for yourself in this photostatic copy -- "I, the undersigned, shall forfeit all rights, privileges, and licenses herein and herein contained," et cetera, et cetera... "Fax mentis incendium gloria cultum," et cetera, et cetera... "Memo bis punitor delicatum"! It's all there, black and white, clear as crystal! You stole fizzy lifting drinks! You bumped into the ceiling which now has to be washed and sterilized, so you get nothing! You lose! Good day sir!
In the end, of course, he comes through a shining example of all that is right in the world giving us that warm fuzzy reassuring feeling that one expects from a child's story.
Willy Wonka: And Charlie: don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he'd ever wished for.
Charlie Bucket: What happened?
Willy Wonka: He lived happily ever after.
Some, including myself, consider this to be Gene Wilder's greatest movie. He was almost a perfect replica of Dahl's description of Wonka. Tall, lanky, and a little nutty, Wilder's portrayal cannot be forgotten by any that see the movie representation of Charlie and the Chocoloate Factory (retitled Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory).
What most people don't know, however, is that Fred Astair was originally slated to play the role of Wonka. Sadly, it was decided that he was just too old. IMHO, Wilder was a better choice anyway. Although Astair is most assuredly a better singer / dancer, he doesn't (to me) have quite that eccentric quality that Wilder does. In the end, Wilder got the part, Astair got bupkis.
There is no life I know
To compare with pure imagination.
Living there You'll be free
If you truly
Wish to be
When I find more information about the situation with Fred Astair or Gene Wilder's take on the movie etc it will be added - if anyone knows where I can find pertenant info, please let me know.