Published on November 18th, 2011 | by Terry Boyden1
Blu-ray Review: Willy Wonka & Chocolate Factory (Three-Disc 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition)
Is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory a story of pure imagination or a parable to warn children of the punishment that awaits bad deeds? This year, the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie celebrates its 40-year anniversary. It is without a doubt one of the most memorable children’s book adaptations of the 20th century. Why? Oompa-Loompas and a timeless grown-up tale. To celebrate the 40th Anniversary, Warner Bros has released an Ultimate Collector’s Edition boxed set.
Much like Ben-Hur and The Wizard of Oz, the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray boxed set collects both the 1080p HD movie as well as several trinkets for avid collectors. If you picked up the 2009 Warner Blu-ray “book” release (see review), then there won’t be too many new special features. The Blu-ray disc is the exact same one released in 2009. However, there is a second DVD that has two additional featurettes. The first is a new interview with Director Mel Stuart and the second is a “rediscovered” archival featurette. The latter of which has not gone through any noticeable remastering since the 70s.
The interview with Mel Stuart is presented in Wonkavision. It cuts back and forth between Stuart and a Wonkavision TV set with cast and crew from the movie. Stuart discusses his creative vision for the movie. He wanted to deliver a timeless tale geared towards adults. He believed that children would be smart enough to pick up on the adult references. Stuart also explains that he was against having music in the movie. He specifically was against the “I got a golden ticket” song, but he explains why he made certain concessions.
Perhaps the most interesting things about this new featurette are the quick clips of Stuart’s children. His daughter Madeline brought him the book, but she wanted a role in the movie. Stuart ended up using Madeline in one scene as well as his son Pete. It turns out both children actually were the ones who did the burps for Charlie and his grandfather. Stuart also explains one of his favorite moments of working with Gene Wilder. The Director expresses how shocked he was by Wilder’s performance when Wonka yells at Charlie saying, “You get nothing,” at the end of the movie.
The second additional featurette is an extremely grainy making-of video from the 70s. Outside of the standard behind-the-scenes segments that you could see in part on the Blu-ray disc, there is an interview with Author Roald Dahl at his home. You get to see where Dahl wrote. The small makeshift writers room almost feels like something ripped write out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
The box set comes with a Retro Tin with Scratch-N-Sniff Pencils and Scented Eraser. It’s pretty much the most random thing you can think of and an immediate throw away. Sure, you can give it to your kids if you have any, but it’s not something that you’d want to display on its own.
The set comes with 14-pieces of Wonka Production Correspondence. This is more in line with other Warner Ultimate box sets. There are actually fully reproduced hand-written letters included in this set as well. Probably the best non-digital included item is the 144-page behind-the-scenes book from Mel Stuart. It’s probably worth $20 on its own so that makes up for the additional cost in buying this set.
The Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Ultimate Collector’s Edition doesn’t compare to some of Warner’s other Ultimate Collections. Neither of the new featurettes are presented in HD. Also, the Wonka Bar Retro Tin is a little too cheesy. If anything should have been included in this set, it should have been a 4” toy Oompa-Loompas. That alone would have made this set an instant buy.
– Documentary Pure Imagination: The Story of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
– Commentary with the Wonka Kids
– 4 Sing-Along Songs
– Vintage 1971 Featurette
– Theatrical Trailer
– Mel Stuart’s Wonkavision: New Interview with the Movie’s Director
– A World of Pure Imagination: Recently Rediscovered Archival Featurette
– Interview with Original Author Roald Dahl
– 14 Pieces of Wonka Production Correspondence
– Retro Tin with Scratch-N-Sniff Pencils and Scented Eraser
– Pure Imagination, 144-Page Behind-the-Scenes Book From the Film’s Director