Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.


When Joy Boy clued me into the theory connecting Bong Joon Ho's futuristic class war to this quaint children's fable, I was skeptical. But rewatching showed more than surface details (reclusive inventor Wilford/Willy, messages in bars of chocolate/protein, sequential strange interiors in the train/factory). They share themes and structure impossible to ignore.

Wonka begins when a steeple bell chime lets throngs of grade schoolers out of class to pour into a sweet shop. All join in an ode to the "Candy Man" who makes the "world taste good." Corporate titan as God.

Dahl's text set the Genesis plot "eat forbidden fruit and be punished," but the movie dials up religion: cutaway gag about Annunciation dreams, Wonka chants "fires of Hell" in the riverboat, Slugworth offers ticket holders any price for their immortal gobstoppers. Charlie falls to original sin ("You stole fizzy lifting drink!"), but his saving grace is resisting Slugworth after getting booted from Eden. Wonka reveals his Adversary as a partner sent only to test, lifts His prodigal son to the sky, and rewards him with His Kingdom.

Snowpiercer pulls the same twist... wait, flip that, reverse it: almighty devil Wilford offers Curtis rule over the Train, after selfless, saintly Gilliam the collaborator led him on. Both protagonists feel secretly vindicated that from every status group, the Big Man chose hardscrabble working schlubs as worthiest. Seeing a kid trapped in a machine convinces Curtis to put his body upon the gears and make it stop, but Charlie finds his concerns soothed. "Restored to their normal, terrible old selves." "Everyone in their preordained position."

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