“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” Screen Play by David Seltzer: Lover of Candy and Literature

            Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Warner Brothers, 2001) is an enchantingly dark film based on the book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” written by Roald Dahl (Dahl 1-176). First released in 1971, the film was used to promote a new line of candy merchandize from Nestlé. (IMDB) Although the film did not do as well as expected at the time, it has since become a cult classic. Throughout the film the main character Willy Wonka, a candy maker who owns the most popular candy company, makes reference to various pieces of literature. To most audiences these quotes and references are merely quirky sayings used by the strange chocolatier. But if looked at closely, the references are far more important to the film than realized.
            When planning to make the film, Roald Dahl was asked to write a screen play. The intentions were to have the one person who knows the characters and storyline best write the lines for the film. Roald Dahl did write the initial screen play, but the director wanted an enhanced version with more interesting characters for film. Writer David Seltzer was then asked to write a different version of the screenplay. It was that version by Seltzer that made Willy Wonka one of the most sinister and fascinating characters in film.
            The screenplay by seltzer had many slight changes to the original, but kept most of the storyline intact. Seltzer’s love for writing and literature showed immensely throughout the film. From poems to theater, several references are made during certain scenes that are deserving of an analytical review.
            The story of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory begins with a poor boy Charlie. His family is struggling to make ends meet, causing Charlie to work to feed his family. Charlie loves chocolate, so much so that his favorite time of the year is his birthday, where he receives a Wonka chocolate bar. Charlie’s grandfather tells him of the mysterious candy maker, Willy Wonka, and how he shut out everyone from his factory due to spies attempting to steal his secret recipes and concoctions. A fascinated Charlie hopes to find one of five golden tickets hidden in Wonka bars all over the world. Each ticket winner receives a full tour of the factory and a lifetime supply of chocolate.
            The first four golden ticket finders consist of loathsome, bratty, over indulged children. They bellyache if they do not get their way. Their parents seem to be scared of their temper tantrums and will do anything to stop them. While one parent dotes on her bad-mannered child, another is stressed and frazzled when his daughter has a fit of temper and over powers him with her wants. Their parents aren’t too precious either. A shady car salesman, a teacher that lets her son sit in front of the television all day, a butcher’s wife that indulges in her son’s gluttony, and an owner of a peanut factory that buys his way through everything. Not exactly the greatest influences on young children. Charlie’s grandfather, however, is a kind and loving person that is honest and giving.
Charlie does find the fifth golden ticket, and together they all went to the factory for the tour and to collect their prize. Throughout the tour, the children and their guests experience strange environments, occurrences, and the even stranger Willy Wonka. He is a reclusive man that displays strange antics and outlandish conduct. He seems to be aloof and unconcerned when one by one each selfish child disappears one after another via extreme circumstances such as being sucked into a vacuum tube in a chocolate river, turning into a blueberry, and falling into a trash bin for bad eggs. The only remaining child is the sweet poor boy Charlie. Wonka then reveals to Charlie that the purpose of the tour was to find his successor, a young and selfless child.
            The first literature reference of the film is said while Wonka is unlocking a combination lock to a door. While turning the lock he says “99...44…100% Pure”. The line is a reference to the poem “Home, 99 44/100% Sweet Home” by Ogden Nash. The actual poem consists of only two lines:
“Home is heaven and orgies are vile,
But I like an orgy, once in a while.” (Nash)

The poem reflects the attitude and quirkiness of Wonka throughout the film. His chocolate factory can be compared to heaven. All children and adults alike want to tour it. It is also a dreadfully dark place with mysteries and intrigue but people are still fascinated by them. This was not the only reference to an Ogden Nash poem. He was also quoted from his poem “Reflections on Ice-Breaking” (Nash) by saying, while pouring alcohol into one of his concoctions, “candy is dandy but liquor is quicker”. (Nash)
            Wonka also makes reference to the works of William Shakespeare throughout the film. The first reference made is in the scene where Wonka leads the children and their chaperones into a room, telling them to go through to the other door. After they rush into the room with excitement and cram together in the small space, they realize there is no door. They then begin to panic. When someone hollers out Wonka’s name he replies “Is it my soul that calls upon my name?” from the famous balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo: It is my soul that calls upon my name
How silver-sweet sound lovers' tongues by night,
Like softest music to attending ears! (Shakespeare, Act II, Scene II)

Wonka comes off as very sarcastic throughout the film. When they are screetching and hollering his name in the small crowded room, he is making a statement by using this line. Obviously to Wonka their calls are not the “softest music to attending ears”. This is a great example of Wonka’s witty sarcasm. He also seems to feel somewhat better or smarter than the guests to the factory. He displays this by using references to mock them that they do not understand.
            The next mention of Shakespeare occurs in the inventing room. Wonka is riding a bicycle and appears to be ignoring the guests as if he was in a world of his own. He is singing a song from William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”.
“In springtime, the only pretty ring time
Birds sing, hey ding
A-ding, a-ding
Sweet lovers love the spring—“ (Shakespeare Act V, Scene 3)

 He is shaken out of his peaceful state of mind by one of the children that stole a piece of exploding candy.
            Again Wonka quotes Shakespeare. This time from his play “The Merchant of Venice” (Act III, Scene 2). One of the children takes a piece of gum in which the recipe hasn’t quite been perfected and she turns into a blueberry. As she is being rolled out of the room by Oompah Loompahs, the mysterious factory workers with bright orange skin and green hair, Wonka says “Where is fancy bred? In the heart, or in the head? (Shakespeare) Shall we roll on?” He is joking about the girl and her lack of manners and common sense because she stole the gum and subsequently paid the price. It also is another example of his clever commentary by saying “bred” and “roll” just after she ate the gum that tastes of a full course meal.
            During the scene where the mother of one of the children is being pulled away by the Oompah Loompah’s after her son was turned into a million satellite particles, Wonka again quotes Romeo and Juliet saying “parting is such sweet sorrow” (Shakespeare, Act II, Scene II) Again this seems to be sarcasm by Wonka making the statement that the child and his mother were both annoying and obnoxious people and he really wasn’t feeling sorrowful about their departure.
            In the scene in which Charlie gives the everlasting gobstopper back to Wonka to prove that he wouldn’t sell it to his rival candy maker, Wonka seems to be shocked at this mature and noble act of the child. In awe of this act, he again quotes from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (Act V, Scene 1). “So shines a good deed in a weary world” (Shakespeare), he says softly to himself. He is saying that when everyone else has wrong intentions and gaining wealth from stepping on people, one good deed shines through and outweighs their wealthy gain.
            One of the more interesting references in the film is cited when Wonka and the guests are walking through a hallway that becomes more narrow and small as they progress to where they eventually are crouched in front of a tiny door. The door is impossible to fit through and one of the chaperones comments about how no one would ever fit through it. Wonka in return says “Oh, you should never, never doubt what nobody is sure about”. This is a line from Hilaire Belloc’s poem “The Microbe”. The poem is a fascinating social commentary believed to be about the poets devote Catholicism and scientist’s religious disapproval. Scientists expect people to believe in what they have yet to see but dismiss and argue religion because they say there is no “proof”. This is argued by Belloc by saying that no one has even seen a microbe, yet the scientists swear they exist. Why if they don’t believe in religion without proof, do they believe in something they themselves as scientists cannot explain.  
“The Microbe is so very small
You cannot make him out at all,
But many sanguine people hope
To see him through a microscope.
His jointed tongue that lies beneath
A hundred curious rows of teeth;
His seven tufted tails with lots
Of lovely pink and purple spots,
On each of which a pattern stands,
Composed of forty separate bands;
His eyebrows of a tender green;
All these have never yet been seen--
But Scientists, who ought to know,
Assure us that they must be so...
Oh! let us never, never doubt
What nobody is sure about!” (Belloc)

                        While boarding the Wonkatania, a river boat in the factory’s chocolate river, Wonka recites a line from John Masefield’s poem “Sea Fever”. While the guests climb aboard, Wonka says “All I ask is a tall ship and a star to sail her by”. The poem is a stunning portrayal of a sailor’s journey and way of life. Not wanting much in life, the sailor only asks that conditions for his journey be nice and comfortable. Wonka, a recluse, doesn’t ask for much either. He just wants to live in his factory alone away from people in which he considers to be insufferable. Also the line may be referring to his search for a successor. He is looking for someone with the potential and ability to carry on his business that can be guided selflessly by him.  
“I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick, and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call which may not be denied.
And all I ask is a windy day with white clouds flying,
And flung spray and blown spume, and the seagulls crying.
I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way, and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife.
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow rover,
And a quite sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.” (Masefield)

                Wonka seems to live in a imaginary child like dream world that has come to life in his factory. He has edible shrubbery, chocolate waterfalls, giant golden chocolate goose eggs, and even lickable flavored wallpaper. While showing the wallpaper to the guests, he lists the flavors including a snozzberry. One of the children protests that there is no such type of berry. Wonka responds by saying “We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams”. This is from the poem “Ode” by Arthur O’Shaughnessy. Wonka is trying to tell the child that you determine what you believe in or what is real. You make your own reality.
“We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams.
World-losers and world-forsakers,
Upon whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers,
Of the world forever, it seems.” (O’Shaughnessy)

                The most fascinating reference of the film is not made by Wonka, but by a tinker that approaches Charlie on the street at the beginning of the film. Charlie is staring at the factory from the gate doors. He is in awe of the huge factory and the mysteries beyond its gate. Suddenly behind him the tinker says in a tone of caution:“Up the airy mountain, down the rushing glen, we dare not go hunting, for fear of little men” (Allingham). He then walks away and Charlie runs off. The line is from William Allingham’s poem “The Fairies”.
This is the most puzzling of references because the tinker is never introduced again in the film or his intentions explained. It is possible that he is warning Charlie that beyond those gates there is something more ominous. Also he seems to be hinting to the secret mystery of who is running Wonka’s factory. He can’t possibly be making all of that candy by himself, and no one is ever seen entering or leaving through those gates. This is later discovered to be the tiny men known as Oompah Loompahs.
                The film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory should be watched several times to find all of the references that make the movie intriguing and mystifying. The literary references alone make for an interesting analysis, but many other puns, jokes, and odd little sayings by Wonka and other characters are what make this film so captivating. David Seltzer obviously loves literature and is one of the most talented screenwriters in Hollywood. Without his twist on Roald Dahl’s original “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, the film would have come and gone, lost in hundreds of other films that didn’t sell. 

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory; Dir. Mel Stuart, David Seltzer, Roald Dahl; 1971. DVD Warner Brothers, November 13, 2001.

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Belloc, Hilaire. "The Microbe, by Hilaire Belloc." poetry-archive.com. © 2004 Poetry-Archive.com, n.d. Web. 31 Aug 2010. <http://www.poetry-archive.com/b/the_microbe.html>.

Masefield, John. "A Blupete Poetry Pick- John Masefield's "Sea Fever"." bluepete.com. Peter Landry, 2004. . Web. 31 Aug 2010. <http://www.blupete.com/Literature/Poetry/MasefieldSeaFever.htm>.

O'Shaughnessy, Arthur. "Ode Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy ." generationterrorists.com, n.d. Web. 31 Aug 2010. <http://www.generationterrorists.com/poems/ode.shtml >.

Allingham, William. "The Fairies by William Allingham." sff.net. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug 2010. <http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/l_fairie.htm>.


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