Saturday, December 11, 2004

Willy Wonka as Metaphor

A day or so ago I mistyped a link in a short post. I've been thinking about the new remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which will be called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and supposedly will be truer to the Dahl book.

The original movie starred Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, and the film was politically complicated. Charlie was a poor boy who won the lottery by finding the Golden Ticket, which allowed him, along with four other children, to take a tour of the famed, but secretive, Wonka Chocolate Factory. The other children, representing what is wrong with our consumption society of 1971, get in trouble and disappear. Charlie ends up, because of his inherent and liberal kindness, as the inheritor of the chocolate empire.

Oh, the film was flawed as a morality tale. Who can think of those poor Oompa Loompas without a pang of conscience about colonialism and our society's violation of the planet? There in the middle of a Republican Administration about to undergo the worst ethical problems in US history Hollywood made a movie sharply critical of our consumerist society. So what's it going to be this time around?

The director is Tim Burton, and he's been pretty anti-conservative, if not outright liberal, in his productions. Think 1990's Edward Scissorhands, a quirky tale about acceptance as a twisted retelling of Beauty and the Beast or Phantom of the Opera. Think of his dark Batman, a tale in which the hero himself has demons, blurring the notions of good and evil. Ed Wood lionizes a crossdresser, for God's sake!

So, folks, what do you think? In what way will this film take on our current political or societal situation? I'm pretty sure we'll not be seeing the Oompa Loompa song.