Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory [Blu-ray]
Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum
(Paramount Pictures; US DVD: 6 Oct 2009)
A good number of films that come from someone’s childhood tend to suffer from a nostalgia that blinds objectivity, but Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a truly respectful family film that doesn’t condescend to the children, and is mature enough to please adults. The recurring themes of class disparity, the condemnation of greed, and alienation caused by capitalist competition, give the film a distinct feeling of melancholy and at times, paranoia.
Warner’s’ Blu-ray treatment for the film is visually stunning, with colors popping boldly and the music sounding crisp. The technical updates give the 1971 film a modern feel, while production designer Harper Goff’s work on the kaleidoscopic chocolate room can be fully appreciated in 1080p. The litmus test for how much the film has benefitted from the upgrade to HD is the infamously disturbing boat ride scene, which feels much heavier than it originally did. And while memories of the Oompa-Loompas recall muddied brown pastels, now their makeup and outfits seem quite polished and striking.
The Blu-ray packaging for the film is one of the better ones released, made into a 38-page book with vivid production photos, lyrics to songs, and background information on Dahl and the cast and crew.