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Headscratchers: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  • In the Gene Wilder film Wonka tells Charlie and Grandpa Joe that Slugworth in fact works for him. So why did Wonka make Slugworth one of his rivals to the point his business ended up in jeopardy?
    • Fake Slugworth. The real one is presumably busy.
    • His name is Mr. Wilkinson! Slugworth is a completely different person whose identity Wonka has usurped for the purposes of this test. Did nobody get that?
      • I was under the impression Slugworth was just an identity Wonka invented for Mr. Wilkinson, not an usurped one, hence my confusion.
      • No no no. Slugworth is another candy maker. Where do you think Slugworth Sizzlers come from?
    • Who's to say that Mr. W didn't used to work for Slugworth, (maybe even a relative-in-law thing?), only to jump ship and permanently join Wonka? He does seem to be the only other human at the factory.
  • Grandpa Joe can walk, right? As evident in his climbing out of the bed and standing up and finally dancing merrily about the room in minutes. So why did this man let himself be a burden on Charlie and his mother who are already living well below poverty level. I can understand the other elders as they're probably sick/crippled. But this guy? I thought he was being an ass when I first watch him slowly get up.
    • There's also the issue that if he did spend so many years in bed pretending to be ill, his muscles would have atrophied to the point that he really couldn't walk anymore.
    • He just wasn't inspired enough to walk. He was old and sickly and frail, and had to really get up the gumption to get over being eighty-six (or was it ninety-six?) years old with twenty years of atrophy under his belt, and posibly a history of The Polio.
      • Actually, I'm going to posit parkinsonism. Oliver Sacks talks about it some in Awakenings and also in Musicophilia: strong emotions can sometimes shake patients out of it temporarily. For reals.
    • As a side note, everywhere else he merrily jumped out of bed right away. I can chalk that off as being hilarious but...
    • Actually... he didn't magically hop out of bed, it took him a while (and falling on top of Charle) before he really got his second-wind.
      • In the book, he did.
    • It's also entirely possible that there was nothing for him to do. The story took place in 1971, and Grandpa Joe was already very old by that time. The town looked fairly suburban, and it's entirely possible that he's a feeble old man with no real job skills and possibly very little education. Any of the back-breaking unskilled labor jobs that he could do would probably be dangerous or at least unsafe, and would very likely be given to someone younger and healthier (you could throw in a bout of depression, which can be bad enough to leave some people bedridden all by itself.) He probably could handle what he assumed to be a few hours in a heated, clean factory a lot easier that he could handle 8, 10, 12-hour days chopping wood or some other job that's crippling to people a quarter of his age. Although, why he doesn't help Charlie's mother with the work she does, I still don't get.
      • It's probably partly psychosomatic. He feels useless, so he has to justify his uselessness by convincing himself he's bedridden. If he hopped up to help out with the household chores, only to have nothing to do but go back to bed, he'd feel even more worthless than he does already. Convincing himself he's physically an invalid is less painful than admitting that society has just deemed him useless.
    • England, particularly Victorian England, had a tradition of some folks Taking To Their Beds... it was just something some people did. Most likely a period of illness turned into a lifestyle.
  • The mother's song: "Be grateful for what you have." in her Cheer Up Charlie song. I didn't get that. Just what does Charlie have? Oh sure, a home and a mother and four elders that do absolutely nothing worth dick but lay there on the bed. Other than that, he's almost to Oliver Twist poverty level. >____>
    • The song was more about being grateful for being himself (i.e. an great kid), and that things will get better for him (even though they're shit now) because of his merits.
    • Wasn't it about being grateful for a loving family and [pauses] Erm...
    • He still has a home. He still has a family. He gets to eat most nights, even if it's just cabbage soup. He has an upright job. He gets to go to school. He can even get sweets occasionally. Oliver Twist would probably think Charlie's a rich bastard in comparison. He does have plenty to be grateful for, that's the point of the song... it sucks in comparison to what other people have, but he's got something, including much more of a chance for a good future than someone with literally nothing.
      • Not to mention his own health. Just imagine if he'd been unable to work due to blindness or something, or even if he'd suffered some crippling injury that caused him to be bedridden just like all his grandparents...
  • There's no closure as to what happens to Agustus, Violet, Veruca and Mike. Where did they go? Were they okay? Did they get to go home? I'm pretty sure the book explains that they got sent home with huge supplies of chocolate, but nothing is said about them in the movie after their big misdeeds. When I was a child I was completely sure they'd all been killed, which terrified me no end.
    • In one of the final scenes (either in Wonka's office or the glass elevator) Wonka explains to Charlie and Grandpa Joe that all the other children will be restored to their original selves (I believe "old, terrible selves" is how he words it), but that they are hopefully now a little wiser. It's a little bit throwaway, but it's in there.
    • If anything, the book is even *more* scary than the Gene Wilder movie. The book explicitly shows the other kids survived, but with "reminders" of their misbehavior. Augustus is thin as a rail from being squeezed through the pipes, Violet is purple, Veruca is covered in garbage, and Mike is a 10-foot giant (the end result of being put through a taffy puller to de-shrink him). Personally I thought the movie's ending was a lot better.
  • Why the hell did they add the scene where Charlie and Grandpa Joe drink the fizzy-lifting soda? Surely the whole point is that Charlie's the only well behaved kid? It also makes Joe out to be a complete jerk.
    • Because otherwise Charlie comes off as a Marty Stu. He learns from his mistake.
      • Exactly. The real test wasn't whether the kids could keep their hands to themselves, it was whether they would do the right thing and keep Wonka's secret, or betray his confidence? Which makes much more sense than the premise of the book.
      • That, incidentally, was one of the biggest problems with the Depp remake.
      • Plus, they needed something for Wonka to yell at them about at the end for the final test. If Charlie didn't do anything, Wonka couldn't pretend to get angry with him and deny him the prize.
      • It also adds a more realistic moral to the story. It's impossible to never make any mistakes, but the real test in the film version is whether Charlie can get himself out of the mess he made, and then whether he's honest and humble enough to admit he was wrong, even when he seems to have an opportunity for revenge. The other kids could have done that too, but they not only couldn't resist their temptations, they also couldn't figure out how to save themselves, and then they kept blaming Wonka, their parents and everyone else even as they were getting carted off for treatment.
      • So it's okay to get in trouble [by breaking rules] as long as you can get yourself out of it? That sounds like a terrible moral.
      • Also, many people are being too hard on Grandpa Joe. Remember this man has been confined to a bed for a long time. In many ways he's as child-like as Wonka. Can you imagine what kind of mischief Wonka would get into if he'd been bedridden for so long and now had the strength to walk again? He'd get into all kinds of trouble, and when he got caught he'd naturally throw a tantrum.
  • Incidentally, why did they change Veruca's test from squirrels to golden geese? Not only do the geese not make sense, they've displaced the squirrels to the extent that I overheard at least four people watching cry, 'Where are the geese?' Grr- hate people who don't read!
    • Possibly an allusion to "The Goose that laid the golden egg?"
    • I heard it was an animal training problem. They couldn't get squirrels to act as directed, whereas geese, who lay eggs and are associated with the Golden Egg myth as mentioned, can easily be trained to just sit there.
      • I'm not so sure about that, since the film didn't use real geese anyway. They were puppets.
      • Maybe geese were easier to fake convincingly, then?
      • It was almost certainly because of how difficult it would be to use squirrels. If they stayed with squirrels they would have had to make dozens of fake animals that could run across the floor and tap on Veruca's head and then carry her off. Geese require a few large puppets that shift from side to side with some sound effects dubbed in. A lot easier to accomplish especially since CGI wasn't around.
    • A more subtle possibility would be that doing away the squirrels was a good pretext to get rid of the squirrel scene (which is deeply uncomfortable to watch for many, carrying assault implications). Note that the musical restores the squirrels, but still axes the assault.
  • What would have happened if Charlie and Grandpa Joe hadn't burped in time? Presumably, they would have been killed by the fan, which of course would have eliminated Charlie from the running, leaving Veruca and Mike. Veruca would then do her "I want it now" bit and fall down the chute, leaving just Mike. We see at the end of the film that (unlike in the book) Charlie didn't win the factory by default just by being the last one standing, so presumably Mike wouldn't either. So what would happen then? I can think of two possible scenarios:
    • Wonka would continue the tour onto the Television Chocolate Room with just Mike and his mother left. Mike would then pull his television stunt and be eliminated, meaning no one would be left. Wonka would either have to choose an heir another way, or hold the Golden Ticket contest all over again.
    • Wonka would end the tour when there was just one child left, just like in the version we're shown. Being one of the "bad kids," Mike in all likelihood wouldn't get his lifetime supply of chocolate. (Wonka would probably use his theft of the Exploding Candy in the inventing room as the justification for denying him the prize.) Mike doesn't seem to have a conscience like Charlie, so he probably wouldn't return the Everlasting Gobstopper. He would probably go and give to to "Slugworth." But since "Slugworth" actually worked for Wonka, he wouldn't give Mike money for it—maybe he'd just pretend he didn't want it anymore, I don't know. Just like in the above scenario, Wonka would have to find an heir another way, or repeat the contest.
    So it seems that Wonka would have been doomed to repeat history if it hadn't been for those fortunate belches. Unless there's a scenario I missed...
    • Possibly, though it's a stretch. During the Fizzy Lifting Drinks scene, notice Grandpa Joe's hand when it nearly misses the fan blades: His fingers are touching a circle of plate glass. It's another illusion.
    • Not impossible that Wonka made certain that the Fizzy Lifting Drink had a belch factor mixed into it, so that, if you drink enough to fly up you'd automatically belch (and come down) after a certain point. The room may have been deliberately designed to check out a safe "flying level". If the Oompah Loompas test it here, they probably are tied to cables to avoid the fan.
    • The belching was an homage to the book. An old Oompa Loompa refuses to belch, drinks it outside, and never comes back.
    • Are you sure that Charlie doesn't win by default? Because my interpretation had always been that he did. At first, Wonka kicks him out and says he doesn't get any chocolate because of the soda incident. Then, when Grandpa Joe comes back to yell at Wonka for raising and then dashing Charlie's hopes, Wonka is reading something and muttering to himself. It's only after that that he tells Charlie he "won." I assumed that Wonka was re-reading the contract and noticed that it said something about how if none of the kids truly passed his test, the factory would go to the one who came the closest.
      • You obviously missed the part where Charlie goes in and gives Wonka the Everlasting Gobstopper back to Wonka, proving that he was a good kid at heart, even though he had made a mistake by drinking the Fizzy Lifting Drink.
      • Add to that Wonka was reciting poetry. I believe the words were about how bright one act of kindness can be in a world of darkness, meaning giving back the gobstopper, not trying to sell for profit despite his family's need for money is a selfless act beyond compare.
      • This is correct, and the quote is, "Thus shines a good deed in a weary world".
  • It's been explained that the Slugworth plot was put in to give a more realistic moral to the story, about learning from your mistakes. But from what I can see, it only makes things more unfair on the other kids. Yes, it was made pretty clear that Violet, Veruca and Mike intended to give him the gobstopper... but they never got a chance to give it back to Wonka. The only reason Charlie could was because his mistake hadn't got him killed, or at least taken away by the Oompa Loompas. Surely they all should have been given a chance to speak to Wonka before they left? And Augustus never even got a gobstopper! It just seems unfair that only Charlie actually got a chance to redeem himself.
    • To be fair, the only reason they 'never got a chance' to return the gobstopper was because their own greed and character flaws (and refusal to acknowledge them) got them into trouble before they could. Of course, off-camera they could have been discovered with or refused to own up to stealing the gobstoppers, but in essence, they denied themselves their own chance at redemption. No one else is to blame but them.
    • But Charlie still didn't earn it any more than they did. He still stole — against Wonka's specific orders — exactly the same as Augustus did. The only difference is that Augustus had the bad luck of being whisked away in a tube right afterward while Charlie lucked out, got to escape via burping, and got to keep going. If he was taken away as soon as the wrongdoing happened like all the other kids were, he never would have gotten the chance to redeem himself.
      • You'll notice that Willy Wonka didn't try to stop Charlie and Grandpa from slipping off, even though they were supposed to stay with the tour. I'm guessing that Wonka suspected that this would expose Charlie's weakness of curiosity; so he saw no need to stop them, anymore than he did the other kids. But while the other four just ran ahead without thinking, to disastrous results, Charlie wanted to look around and explore, a process that takes a bit more thought, an idea which Wonka would promote, so he gave them a bit more time to see what they would do, maybe sending one of the Oompa-Lommpas or Mr. Wilkinson to keep an eye on them just to be sure.
      • ^By contrast, Willy Wonka tried very very hard to stop Augustus from eating the chocolate river. Watch the scene, he's practically screaming at Augustus to stop, and the little butterball just keeps on stuffing his face. The tour is not about merely one test, it's about a long series of tests, possibly ones tailor-made to each child. Augustus failed the gluttony test. Charlie passed the honesty test and he resisted all the other temptations that tripped up all the other children. Charlie more than earned his reward.
      • All the other kids had an opportunity to escape their fates, Charlie and Grandpa were the only ones to actually work out how to do it. If they'd actually hit the blades, then you can bet the Oompas would have stopped them being shredded completely while singing an appropriate song. They worked out how to get away from the blades on their own though. Test=passed.
      • Did the other kids really have the chance to escape, though? If the fizzy lifting drink fiasco was Charlie's "test," then his test was wildly different from all the others. He commits the initial crime (stealing the drinks), thus succumbing to greed/curiosity/what have you, and then he's presented with a clear and obvious threat (the fan blades) that he has to work out a way to avoid. This wasn't the case with any of the other kids. When, say, Violet commits her crime, she immediately starts blowing up and turning blue. It's not a puzzle. She's not given time to think. There's no apparent way to stop the transformation. Her punishment follows her crime directly, immediately, and inevitably, and it's not even something she could reasonably see coming, the way Charlie was aware of the fan blades. It's completely unfair.
      • Perhaps, but Wonka himself was there for the other kids, trying to warn them against what they were doing, "Stop! Don't!" even as they ignored him. Violet didn't swell up right at first, only after chewing the first two flavors, the others ran off to do whatever and wouldn't listen to warnings. Charlie, in the fan tunnel, was more on his own.
  • Little Charlie had to buy his Wonka Bar, but during The Candy Man song the start of the movie the shop owner was seemingly throwing away free candy to the kids, even letting them behind the counter to grab whatever they want? I doubt he could keep track of what they all owed him afterwards.
    • Yeah, I didn't get that. Might be in the clause of "Musical Numbers Don't Really Happen." It was common joke among this troper's family why he wouldn't just go in and grab a couple of candybars. The assumption being that the Candyman who owns the shop is in cahoots with the local dentist who gives him a share of his cavity profits. More money then 2-dollar chocolate bars.
    • Although that was before the Wonka Bar promotion kicked in. Presumably he clamped down on the free chocolate musical numbers after that point.
    • He knew each of those children by name ("A Triple Cream Cup for Christopher. A Sizzler for June Marie..."). Even as a child I presumed that he had some sort of periodic fee set up. Every day you get one candy bar of your choice. All that other candy given out was during the musical number, and really didn't happen. Charlie was not known to Bill the Candy Shop Owner, so he had to pay up front for his candy.
    • I assumed that the song was symbolic: the candy man wasn't actually giving sweets away, we were just seeing the scene through Charlie, for whom being able to afford a bar of chocolate after school every day is practically the same luxury as being able to eat all the candy in the store for free.
    • I always thought it was because candy was a lot cheeper back then. Charlie gives him a coin and gets two candy bars from it. It's not too hard to believe the kids just hand him a dollar or two at some point.
    • It could be some sort of flat fee. Give a nickel, get as much of (cheap, low-quality) sweets you can catch and eat. Note that really good, expensive chocolate (like bars) wasn't given away.
  • Love the movie, but where is it set? It was filmed in Germany, the book was set in Britain, and the actors mostly seem American. Is it just some amalgamation of the three, because that's what it feels like to me most of the time.
    • The movie seems to be set in America, based on the news reports we see. The news reports clearly come out of the U.S., based on the fact that the first golden ticket was found "while we in America slept" and the second was found "right here in America." So unless we assume that Charlie and his family live in England but watch American news, it seems likely that it is set in some American town with a serious English/German influence. Perhaps in Pennsylvania somewhere.
    • A bit of trivia is that the film-makers deliberately kept the country where the factory is located vague. "Slugworth" presents the money as "of these." Not stating if they are pounds or dollars.
  • How did Grandpa Joe manage to smuggle in chocolate bars for Charlie if none of the grandparents have been out of bed in 20 years?
    • In the book, he gives Charlie a coin and then tells him to run there and back. Presumably they just wanted to shorten the scene.
    • There is a theory about that not being chocolate bars in the WMG section.
    • "Hey, Charlie's mother, I saved up the money Charlie gave me for tobacco to get him a chocolate bar for his birthday present instead. Would you buy one while you're out?" "Sure, Grandpa Joe." And mystery solved.
      • Then why's he keeping it a secret and only revealing his purchase in the middle of the night?
      • Maybe he thought being dramatic and secretive would be more fun.
      • But why didn't Charlie give the money to his mother instead of giving it to Grandpa Joe who would then give it to Charlie's mum? Alternatively Grandpa Joe has a friend who visits him and it's (s)he who gets the tobacco (or the chocolate in this case).
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