Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wonka the Individualist Ideal and Wonka the Broken Recluse

The fundamental difference between Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka and Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka is their relation to the rest of humanity. 

Gene Wilder's character has attained a kind of superiority, has ascended to a height compared to the rest of us. He acts with full understanding, nothing occurs that is outside of his control or too overwhelming to deal with (see: the Slugworth subplot), and the o

ther characters act to prove themselves to Wonka. The disasters that befall the children are indications that they fail to live up to what Wonka needs in a replacement; when they leave Wonka hints that they may be a little wiser, that is, their encounter with the factory improves them as people. Charlie is only given the factory when he demonstrates that he would not harm Wonka even when it would benefit his family.

Wonka is an individualistic ideal. He shuts himself off from humanity and becomes someone great. He is at no disadvantage, his quirkiness is a manifestation of the fact that he is satisfied in being himself and feels no need to conform to whatever might be expected of a business of his stature or a man of his age.

Johnny Depp on the other hand is a broken man. Depp stands apart from the rest of us, but at a disadvantage. He is different from the rest of us, but his difference is a result of his estrangement from his father, there is no indication that he could have lived as a normal man and instead chose to remake himself. His quirkiness arises from not understanding himself or the world around him. He is a great chocolateer, but in almost every other area he is broken.

The children in Depp's factory are being subjected to punishment because Depp does not trust them and expects them to fail (as Charlie pointed out, the Oompa Loompas seemed to have practiced the songs that correspond to each child's catastrophe), Depp.merely wants whichever one is the least worst to be his heir. The children do not leave Wonka in any way improved - two of them walk away disfigured. When Charlie chooses his family over Wonka, it shatters Depp's perception of the world; Charlie is the teacher rather than Wonka. He had no understanding of his importance or the extent to which he and his craft are valued. Depp in fact needs Charlie to show him that his individualistic existence and his art as a chocolateer do not fully satisfy him - he must be reconciled with his father and he must find a family (which he finds with the Bucket family).

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