"Willy Wonka" Movie Facts

by Ariel Waters

"Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," often called "Willy Wonka," was the 1971 movie adaptation of the the popular 1964 book, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" by Roald Dahl. In the movie, known recluse and candy maker Willy Wonka hides five golden tickets in his candy bar wrappers that entitle the winners to a tour of the factory. Charlie Bucket, a young boy from a poor family, ultimately finds a ticket and joins four others at the factory. The kids show their bad habits, encounter musical numbers and strange creatures making chocolate.


Dahl and David Seltzer changed details and added quotations and songs to make the book into a musical film. Seltzer independently made major changes to Dahl's original story that really upset the author, and he refused to give his permission to a movie version of the book's sequel, "Charlie & The Great Glass Elevator." Apparently, the author was so angry he never watched the film in its entirety.


The music in "Willy Wonka" helps to show characters' personalities, move the story forward and set the scene for the movie. Oompa Loompas, the creatures Wonka employs in his factory, sing most of the songs to describe how the visitors' bad behavior led to their removal from the tour. Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse created the lyrics and music, while Howard Jeffrey was responsible for the choreography. The only lyrics taken directly from the book are in the song Wonka sings as he and the visitors ride a boat in one of the factory's tunnels.


In the film, Wonka (played by Gene Wilder) says some beautiful and outrageous things that may seem out of place to some viewers. That may be because many of the statements he makes are famous quotes from different authors, including William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. None of these quotations were in the book, and adding them to the film was just one of the many changes Seltzer made to support his own vision.


Viewers may not notice it, but the movie makes an effort to conceal the country where Charlie Bucket lives. Different examples reveal this intentional duplicity. The money he finds to buy the winning chocolate is not shown clearly enough to make out its origins. The shady character who asks Charlie to bring him a sample of Wonka's products in order to steal the formula offers him a wad of money that he only refers to as "10,000 of these." Also, Charlie and his Uncle Joe are the only winners who do not carry their country's flag at the factory gates.

About the Author

Ariel Waters began writing professionally in 2009. She works as a contractor for LexisNexis, creating Web content and articles, and has also written blogs and articles for Bring Pets Home and HomeAgain. Waters received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Montclair State University.