Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory [Blu-ray]
(Mel Stuart, 1971)
Review by Gary Tooze
Video:Warner Home Video
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 22,371,381,664 bytes
Feature Size: 20,279,285,760 bytes
Video Bitrate: 20.76 Mbps
Booklet Blu-ray Case with 38-pages of advertising, color photos, essays etc.
Release date: October 20th, 2009
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: VC-1 Video
Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1468 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1468 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio Japanese 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192
kbps / Dolby Surround
English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, none
• Delectable Documentary: Pure Imagination: The Story of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (30:25)
•Mouth Watering Commentary with Wonka Kids
• 4 Scrumptious Sing-Along Songs
• Tasty Vintage Featurette (4:01)
• Theatrical trailer
Description: The story of Charlie Bucket, a little boy with no money and a good heart, who dreams wistfully of being able to buy the candy that other children enjoy. Charlie enters into a magical world when he wins one of five "Golden Tickets" to visit the mysterious chocolate factory owned by the eccentric Willy Wonka and run by his capable crew of Oompa-Loompas. Once behind the gates, a cast of characters join Charlie and Grandpa Joe on a journey to discover that a kind heart is a far finer possession than a sweet tooth.
Once upon a time Quaker Oats decided to get into the movie business. It was a short-lived venture but out of it emerged a strange and unusual children's film. In it, five children win special tickets entitling them to a lifetime supply of candy and a personal tour of the mysterious Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory. Inside, scores of green-haired midget workers called Oompa-Loompas operate the bizarre machinery that creates "Everlasting Gobstoppers" and other Wonka treats. Kids that don't abide by the rules of this private tour, however, get more than they bargained for in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), a live-action fantasy reminiscent of a Grimm's fairy tale. The film is directed by Mel Stuart, stars Gene Wilder as the unpredictable title character, and is based on the popular children's book by Roald Dahl. At the time, Quaker Oats produced a line of branded chocolate bars (Willy Wonka's Super Skrunch Bar and others) to capitalize on the film's release but the candy sold poorly and was soon discontinued. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, on the other hand, has gone on to become a cult film whose audiences continue to grow with the passing years.
Roald Dahl, whose previous work as a screenwriter includes The Night Digger (1971), a psychological thriller about a spinster and her blind mother who shelter a serial killer from the police, also wrote the screenplay for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory which was based on his 1964 children's novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Besides the title change, other plot details didn't survive the translation from Dahl's book to the screen like the original concept of the Oompa-Loompas. In the book, they were pygmies from Africa who lived on a diet of caterpillars. (In response to charges of racism by various book critics, they were changed to little white-faced men with long flowing beards in the 1973 edition of the book). In the film, they are dwarf-like creatures with green faces and red hair who function as a Greek chorus, chanting the lyrics of Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley (which received an Oscar nomination for Best Score.)Excerpt from TCM located HERE
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is, most probably the same, VC-1 transfer that was rendered to HD-DVD in October 2006 by Warner which was taken from the same master as the Anniversary DVD Edition. This Blu-ray is single-layered with the feature taking up over 20 Gig. The image quality is acceptable - colors standout with their brilliance. Detail is not particularly consistent with softness abounding throughout. Skin tones seem accurate - contrast exhibits decent black levels and grain is visible in backgrounds. For a 38-year old film this 1.78 Blu-ray transfer is impressive. I doubt this niche classic will be looking any better than it does now in 1080P - and that is fine as the presentation is an enjoyable one with brightly-colored candy that makes your mouth water.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
It's a bit of a wimpy TrueHD 5.1 at 1468 kbps but suits the film to a 'T'. Newley and Bricusse's songs sound solid from "The Candy Man" to "Oompa-Loompa-Doompa-De-Do" and are a big part of the film's enjoyment. I never noted anything abundantly crisp or with punchy bass but the higher end was there and, overall, this is probably a decent recreation of the film's family-passive soundtrack.There are a host of foreign language DUBs and subtitle options and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
The supplements appear to duplicate the Anniversary DVD (and HD-DVD) with the commentary from the five grown-up Wonka kids who won a 'golden ticket' - Peter Ostrum, Julie Dawn Cole, Denise Nickerson, Paris Themmen, and Michael Bollner. It's a bit scattered with sporadic memory patches of scenes and events. Included is the same 1/2 hour 'delectable documentary': Pure Imagination: The Story of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory which has input the same 5 kids, director Stuart, producer Wolper and Gene Wilder. There is the same 4 Sing-Along Songs and mini, 4-minute, vintage featurette plus a theatrical trailer. The attached booklet case is very nice with essays and beautiful color photos. There is nothing that I can find in HD though.
September 23rd, 2009
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze