On August 29, 2016, classic actor Gene Wilder passed away at the age of 83. He played a wide range of characters that we’ve remembered in the past few weeks, but one of his most widely remembered roles is Willy Wonka in the 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. While the film itself had many noteworthy moments and performances, Wilder’s interpretation of the infamous candy man left an impact on many that can’t be described. So in honor of his memory (and just two months after the film’s 45th anniversary), we’re taking a look at ten random facts about this movie today.
- If you think the chocolate river looked nothing like chocolate, you’re…mostly right. It was made of chocolate, water, and cream. But it spoiled by the end of filming, so if you thought Augustus Gloop was making himself sick by drinking it…you’re probably right.
- In addition to speaking various languages (as well as backwards, if the phrase “Hsaw Aknow” gives any indication), Wonka quotes a lot of classic writers throughout the film, including–but not limited to–William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and John Keats. His musical lock to the Chocolate room also serves as a nod to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Kind of makes you wonder what he does in his spare time.
- Included in the long list of actors who wanted to play Willy Wonka is the cast of Monty Python. Probably a good thing we got Wilder, because I’m not sure I’d like to know what would happen if they made “addleberries” a thing.
- You know how Harry Potter got published because a girl read a chapter and demanded more? That’s pretty much how the Willy Wonka movie happened. The girl in this case was Mel Stuart’s daughter, Madeline Stuart, who with her brother makes an appearance in Charlie’s classroom.
- Most of the stuff you saw in the Chocolate room was edible, with a few exceptions. One of which was the cup Wilder bit in, which was made of wax. So we can probably conclude that Bertie Botts did not, in fact, steal anything from Wonka when he invented the Every Flavor Beans.
- To this day, Roald Dahl’s true reaction to the 1971 adaptation remains…mixed. Many sources argue that he hated the movie, refused to let them adapt the sequel, and freaked out after accidentally watching a snippet in a hotel room. Though we don’t have any adaptations of his sequels, others say he was fine with the adaptation and even visited the set during filming.
- While he admitted that Johnny Depp and Tim Burton were both talented, Wilder’s distaste for the remake was no secret to anyone. He found the concept insulting, seeing it as a gimmick to make more money, and evidently never saw it.
- To add the element of surprise, a lot of scenes (particularly with Wilder) weren’t rehearsed before filming. Which means the actors didn’t know Wilder would fake a fall before sommersaulting in his intro, that he’d have a Nicholas Cage freakout in the infamous boat scene, or that he’d start screaming in the last scene where he’d put Charlie’s kindness to the test.
- Wilder and Peter Ostrum (the actor for Charlie) grew close while filming, eating lunch together and sharing a chocolate bar on their way back to set. In fact, Wilder wanted to tell Ostrum ahead of time about the scene where he screams at him, but the director (Mel Stuart) wouldn’t let him do so. So when rehearsing the scene, he’d sound disappointed but he wouldn’t raise his voice until they started filming.
- The first half of the film (before we go inside the factory) is expanded to include Charlie’s take on everything going on. In the book, the family members voice their opinions and Charlie just nods his head and agrees with them. And in the 2005 remake, Borely Bucket–I mean, Charlie–stays true to the book. But in the 1971 film, we see Ostrum portraying the desire for something good to happen in his life. In the beginning, he stares into the candy shop silently bemoaning the fact that he can’t partake in the seemingly free candy (since we never see him interact with kids, you could argue that he didn’t feel welcome in places where money was required). While initially excited about the prospect of finding a golden ticket, you see his greed and resentment coming out while watching Violet Beaureguarde flaunting Ticket #3, quickly replaced by depression following his conversation with his mother. And when he finally comes across the last ticket, he and Grandpa Joe partake in easily the most upbeat yet strangest song number in the entire film (and that last bit is no small feat).
Sources used: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067992/trivia