Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Set (Blu-ray Review)

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is one of my top ten favorite movies of all time. This fact makes absolutely no sense because I am not usually a fan of musicals, movies made before I was born, and I always find Gene Wilder to be a little bit creepy. I could practically recite every bit of dialogue verbatim and sing you every song. On the flip side of that is Tim Burton’s abomination Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. With its insulting carbon copy oopma-loompa no other movie has ever angered me more and I don’t think I will ever forgive Tim Burton for it. As I open my Willy Wonka Collector’s Edition, I try to put that disgrace of a film out of my mind. Seeing a golden ticket right away helps put me in the right frame of mind and I remember that the one and only Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Blu ray is here!


Gene Wilder plays Willy Wonka, the eccentric and reclusive Chocolatier who one day announces to the world that he has hidden five Golden Tickets inside Wonka Bars throughout the world.  The lucky five who find the Golden Tickets will be granted admission, along with a guest, to the highly guarded candy factory and will receive a lifetime supply of chocolate.  No one wants to find a golden ticket more than Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum), a poor young boy who lives with his mother and hour bedridden grandparents in a tiny rundown home.  Charlie helps his family by delivering newspapers and cannot afford to buy a Wonka Bar and have a chance at finding a ticket.  The world is swept up by the news of the Golden Tickets and Wonka Bars fly off the shelves.  Golden tickets are found by a plump German boy, Augustus Gloop and a spoiled English brat Veruca Salt.  An American girl Violet Beauregarde who is always chewing gum finds a ticket as does American Mike Teevee, so named for his love of television.

As the children locate their tickets a menacing looking man is seen whispering into their ears.  The news breaks that the final ticket has been found and Charlie’s hopes are dashed along with many others and the craze that surrounded Wonka Bars and the Golden Tickets subsides.  On his way home, Charlie finds a silver coin in a gutter and uses it to buy a Wonka Bar.  Word soon spread that the final ticket found was a fraud and there is still one left. Charlie has found the final golden tickets and rushes home to tell his family but is stopped by the same sinister man seen whispering in the ears of the previous winners.  The man introduces himself as Arthur Slugworth, a rival candy maker willing to pay a great deal of money for a sample of Wonka’s latest creation, the Everlasting Gobstopper.

Charlie shares the good news with his family and Grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson) gets himself out of bed to escort Charlie to the factory.  At the gates of the factory Willy Wonka limps out with a cane and then somersaults his way to the gate.  This is the first of many oddities to come for the lucky five ticket holders.  After signing a contract, they are allowed inside where they are treated to lickable wallpaper and chocolate rivers.  By far the most exciting discovery, if you ask me, is the race of Oompa Loompa’s little green haired, orange skinned men from Loompa Land who work at the factory tending to the candy.  During the tour they are shown new and experimental techniques and each child is given one ever lasting gobstopper.

While the factory seems like a wonderland of fun, Willy Wonka warns the children not to misbehave and that’s of course what they do. While trying to drink from the chocolate river, Augustus falls in and is sucked through a chocolate extraction pipe and sent to the Fudge Room.  Violet turns into a giant blueberry after trying and experimental piece of three course dinner gum.  Veruca sits on the chocolate golden egg tester and is rejected as a bad egg, sending her down the garbage chute and Mike is shrunken and sent via Wonkavision through the air (a a technology that sends objects though the television rather than pictures).  The Oompa Loompa’s sing about each child’s misbehavior and resulting accident.  Even Charlie and Grandpa Joe misbehave when they sample the Fizzy Lifting Drinks and float uncontrollably toward a fan in the ceiling.  Luckily they realize that burping returns them safely to the ground before it’s too late.

Now we enter spoiler territory so turn away if you haven’t seen the movie yet!  By now, Charlie is the last remaining child on the tour and he expects to receive the lifetime supply of chocolate.  Wonka informs Charlie and Grandpa that Charlie broke the rules and will receive no prize.  When Grandpa Joe denies seeing any rules, Wonka explains that it was in the contract they signed upon entering and by sneaking the Fizzy Lifting Drink Charlie is disqualified and in one of my favorite lines of the movie,  exclaims “I said good day”!   Grandpa Joe is angry and plans to give the gobstopper to Slugworth to show Wonka but Charlie can’t bring himself to do it and returns the candy to Wonka’s desk.  Wonka is truly touched and begs Charlie’s forgiveness.  He reveals that Slugworth is actually his employee and the offer to buy the Gobstopper was actually a test to find an honest child to take over the factory.

In theory, if I had just read the summary above I would’ve said that’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard of.  If you watch the movie though you’ll see that in the case of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory it all somehow comes together to form a near perfect movie.  I think every part is perfectly cast.  I can’t imagine another Veruca Salt saying “I want an Oompa Loompa NOW!”  I have so much love for this movie since I love every single song and the idea of winning the golden ticket and having this adventure is wonderful to me.  It’s almost the perfect movie and I’m happy no one dared make a sequel, or a prequel, as it stands alone – a masterpiece.


Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory looks great on Blu ray considering the movie was released in 1971.  I was very impressed with the transfer.  I was even more impressed when you look at the vintage featurette and see what the original footage looked like.  There’s a lot more sharpness to this transfer than the previous release on DVD but that also makes the special effects even more apparent.  Flesh tones vary wildly through the movie which really isn’t as bad as it sounds since there’s a variety of different skin tones present and of course the orange Oompa Loompas. Black levels were pretty good and solid throughout the movie.  For a movie this old and filmed on the stock it was, this is probably the best we will ever get it and it’s good enough for me.


Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’s DolbyTrue HD 5.1 mix is also an improvement over the previous DVD release. As someone who loves all of the songs, it’s great to hear them all sound much better and more clear.  The film’s dialogue is clear and consistent and I liked that the rear speakers assisted with adding some subtle directionality and emphasizing some over the top sound effects.  This isn’t the equivalent of today’s fully immersive mixes, but for a musical from 1971, this sound pretty good for its age!

Special Features   

Whether new for this box set or found on previous DVD and Blu ray releases of Willy Wonka, I was impressed with the quality and quantity of special features.  I enjoyed hearing the actors’ opinions in the commentary and watching the vintage featurettes.  I’m not usually a fan of sing-a-longs but with this movie I loved that too, especially Oompa-Loompa-Doompa-De-Do.

The box set Blu ray contains the following special features, some of which were available on previous Blu ray releases:

Commentary with the Wonka Kids – Now adults, the Wonka kids – Peter Ostrum (Charlie Bucket), Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt), Paris Themmen (Mike Teevee), Michael Bollner (Augustus Gloop) and Denise Nickerson (Violet Beauregarde), reminisce about making the movie and seem to have kept in contact with each other.  They are entertaining overall, and seem to enjoy each other’s company which makes the commentary enjoyable.  It would be awkward if they were all strangers and had no knowledge of each other except for the fact that they shared the screen back in 1971.

Pure Imagination:  The Story of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – A documentary featuring interviews with Director Mel Stuart, Producer David Wolper, Gene Wilder and the Wonka kids.  Includes behind the scenes footage.

Vintage 1971 Featurette – An original 1971 featurette with behind the scenes footage and interviews.  They discuss the incredible construction necessary for the film

Sing Along Songs – Karaoke-style sing along videos for “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket,” “Pure Imagination,” “I Want It Now” and “Oompa-Loompa-Doompa-De-Do.”

Theatrical Trailer – Willy Wonka’s 1971 theatrical trailer rounds out the first disc.

Mel Stuart’s Wonkavision – Mel Stuart reminisces about the entire process of making the film.  This recent featurette features footage of Peter Ostrum as well as Mel Stuart’s two children who were also in the film.  He discusses the frightening trip down the chocolate river and whether or not he should have made it the ride that scary.

A World of Pure Imagination – A vintage featurette with an interview with author Roald Dahl where we learn the story was written to keep Dahl’s children occupied.


This Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory box set contains the following bonus items:

Wonka’s Golden Ticket – A replica Golden Ticket that has a code with a chance to win a trip to Los Angeles or movie posters.  Sadly, I did not win either prize.

Pure Imagination: The Making of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory – A 131 page book will color photographs and sketches.

Wonka Bar Pencil Case with pencils and eraser

Correspondence – Copies of vintage documents including a cast list, letter about oompa loompa makeup issues and a handwritten letter from Gene Wilder and more.

Final Thoughts  

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is an awesome movie in my book.  I cannot think of anything negative to say about it, and that says a lot because I have something negative to say about everything.  I thoroughly enjoyed the special features and the special contents in the 40th anniversary box set.  My only complaint is that they did not include a Wonka Bar.  That would have made this the perfect box set!  I would have traded the pencil box for a real Wonka Bar for sure!

You can order your copy by clicking on the link below!


6 Responses to “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Set (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Cort K

    Thanks for doing this awesome review. I have the single disc version of Wonka but thanks to you I would like to upgrade.

  2. Sean Ferguson

    For the record, as much as I love Gene Wilder I still prefer Tim Burton’s version over this one. There are two different camps in our house about these movies. The original movie to me seems to take forever to get going and is only saved by the late appearance of Gene Wilder. While I didn’t like everything about Burton’s version, I still like it better than this one. Plus it had a great soundtrack from Danny Elfman! I will admit that this set is pretty cool though.

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    Wow, I did not see that coming from Sean. The Tim Burton version over a classic…

  4. Sean Ferguson

    I never saw the original until recently so I have no sentimental attachment to it like I might have if I had grown up with it. I like the original from the entrance of Gene Wilder until the end, but the first hour of the movie before that just drags on forever.

  5. Aaron Neuwirth

    A fair line of reasoning.

    I wanted to like Burton’s more (and I’m a big Burton fan), but it did little for me and I can’t remember any of the music/songs, a big part of the original.

    That said, Burton’s is technically more faithful to the book (besides all the weird father stuff), given tech advancements since the Wilder version.

  6. Sean Ferguson

    You should listen to the soundtrack! Danny Elfman did a great job on it despite going against the much beloved original songs.