WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is one of those movies that is so iconic, one never has to have seen it to recognize it. The imagery, actors, set pieces, and songs have been imprinted onto pop culture for several decades now. The source material was a best-selling novel written by acclaimed author Roald Dahl. Anyone who loved to read growing up has a great chance of reading at least one of his novels as many have been adapted for the big screen. This same novel was adapted again by Tim Burton in 2005 under the novel’s original title, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The newer version brought in high box office numbers, but the verdict is still out on how it stands up next to the 1971 films.
The Gene Wilder-starring film is held dear to many purists as well as being nominated for an Academy Award. Like The Wizard of Oz, it embraces a vibrant entry into children’s imaginations while carrying nostalgia for the parents who watch it with them. However, Dahl didn’t hide his disapproval of the film. His objections leaned towards the alterations from his novel as well as the focus on Willy Wonka versus Charlie. Dahl always approached his work from the perspective of children which eventually led to his estate executing creative control over the development of the Burton film.
Regardless of opinion, it’s a fact that WILLY WONKA is seen as a cinematic landmark. Warner Bros. is well aware of its status, resulting in several variations of home video releases. Now, during its 50th anniversary, home video enthusiasts are treated to a rather stunning 4K UHD release. Just a few months ago, I watched the movie on one of the Blu-ray releases for the first time since I was a kid. Still fresh on my mind, it was easy to notice the upgrade on the new disc. It hits immediately watching all the flowing chocolate during the opening credits, but the colors really pop once we get into the factory where all the candy and costumes shine.
It’s important to keep in mind that like many 4K releases, WILLY WONKA doesn’t have any new special features. Fortunately, it does include the previous Blu-ray release in this combo pack like multiple short featurettes and sing-along tracks. The 4K disc does include the audio commentary but no mono track.
Like The Wizard of Oz, the attention and efforts spent on production design help keep WILLY WONKA feeling timeless. It widens the audience’s perspectives and keeps you looking for easter eggs you might have missed. Fans will want to add this 4K release to their collection as a delicious way to revisit the infamous chocolate factory.
WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is now available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital through Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.