Forty-five years ago Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was released into movie theaters. Though critics enjoyed the film, it was not considered a box office success. It was in and out of theaters before most people realized it was there. It took nearly two decades, but the underdog story of a poor boy who wins a chance to enter a world of pure imagination found new life with the help of VHS tapes and cable TV. By the mid-90s the film had become a cult classic.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen the film. When the doors of the factory open and Willy Wonka welcomes the lucky winners into his world the kid in me wants to believe that people like the “Candy Man” and the wonders of his chocolate factory really do exist. Take me away. I dream. Take me to a place like that.
We all feel like Charlie Bucket at times; we feel the odds are stacked against us. We survey the world around us and see what appear to be undeserving people rewarded for childish behavior. We think that if we could find a golden ticket, a chance to rise above our station, we would prove that we are more than who we appear to be. We would prove deserving.
So for many of us every query letter, script analysis, contest submission; every open mic, song upload, photo tag or blog post is like opening a chocolate bar. Will this be the one that changes my life?
If Charlie’s story is in any way a reflection of what we would do if handed a golden ticket, it is this: we would screw it up. We would steal Fizzy Lifting drink and bump into the ceiling - which will have to be washed and sterilized – and we too would lose.
Charlie’s golden ticket wasn’t a gold-colored slip of paper hidden in a candy bar. His golden ticket was the strength of his character, which was forged as he struggled for his heart’s desire. In the end, that is what made the difference. That is how Charlie got his chocolate factory.
So shines a good deed in a weary world.
A WRITER AND TRAVELER KEEPING THE FAITH IN LOS ANGELES