Eccentric reclusive founder that lives in his factory? Makes sense. Other factories sending in spies to steal his secret recipes? Of course they would. Long before Steve Jobs ever stood on a stage talking about the magic of his new products, there was that legendary magician Mister Willy Wonka. More founders than will admit have likely been influenced by this movie. Now is as good a time as any to reflect on Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.
“The man’s a genius! He’ll sell a million bars.”
Wonka’s mystique is built-up over the first half of the movie. This crazy character and the many stories about him. Fascination over the release of his newest creations. This one is called a Scrumdiddlyumptious Bar. How does he do it? Who’s helping him run the factory? Only way to find out is to buy Wonka Bars. Kids hoarding Wonka bars. Grown adults fighting over Wonka Bars. Truckloads of Wonka Bars delivered to the White House. Wonkamania.
To discuss the factory in detail is to ruin the surprises. Wonka’s got a museum of sorts to showcase his imaginative product ideas. Some of his dreams become realities. And some realities become dreams. Research and development is done in the “Inventing Room”. Exploding candy for your enemies. A three-course meal in a stick of gum for busy people. And the Everlasting Gobstopper. You can suck it, and suck it, and suck it. And it never gets any smaller. Another room is for mixing Fizzy Lifting Drinks that give you wings. Why not a boat to sail through the factory? Also a Wonkamobile. And a Wonkavision studio for transmitting Wonka Bars through the air. All of this madness exists to be distilled into something simple and tangible and magical.
Little Surprises Around Every Corner
Willy Wonka really is an entertainer and the guests are his audience. And like a true entertainer, in Wonka’s mind he’s the audience and they are his entertainment. Each room in the factory exists to show these people a different way of looking at things and observe how they react. And in every room, these people insist that their understanding of the world is the only way it could be. The door into the room can’t also be the door out, there is no Loompa Land, snozzberries aren’t real, etc. I imagine during the whole factory tour, Wonka is saying to himself “They just don’t get it.”
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory was my favorite movie as a child. Still is. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was also one of the books my grandfather used to teach me to read. Gene Wilder recently merged with the infinite. Roald Dahl‘s 100th birthday was also not too long ago. All three men are certainly now flying high in the eternal Great Glass Wonkavator.