“We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams”
Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy
Every few years I give my imagination a kick by watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. With Betsy out of town this last weekend, I decided to dive into the wonderful, odd, and fun world that Roald Dahl created. I am talking about the original here which features the amazing performance by Gene Wilder. While I am a fan of Tim Burton’s remake,Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it is the original that draws the most direct connection with me (though I must admit I committed the time for you dear reader and watched both, just to be sure). The original simply reminds me of the first time I saw it as a child. Each time the movie brings me the same feelings of excitement and wonder from the first time I saw it, and I love art that can have such an impact.
Now, I fully realize that this movie does not represent the pinnacle of cinematography. However, I never let that ruin a story whose entire premise revolves around imagination, candy, and some very dark humor. Seriously, how can you combine these concepts and not be pulled into the story? As if that is not enough, they have singing Oompa Loompas, a river boat ride that gave me nightmares for years, and a freaking Chocolate Room!
Early in the movie Charlie opens his Wonka Bar to reveal the final golden ticket, getting him access to a tour of Willy Wonka’s factory. Each time I watch it I get goosebumps and tears in my eyes, just like when I was 8 years old. The moment is one of pure happiness, without concern for the unexpected or unknown. The look on his face and the excitement he shows as he runs home to tell his family is something that I would love to capture each day. While Charlie is not sure what lies behind the factory gates, his imagination is running at full speed as he thinks about the possibilities. Watching the movie again with our trip inching ever closer I was reminded to open my imagination to what we will find on the road, both the expected and the unexpected.
On October 1st we are leaving for our extended adventure around the world. In watching the movie again it turns out that the magical factory tour that Charlie has won is also set for October 1st. Coincidence? Perhaps, but that will not stop me from feeling a special connection to the story and using it to provide lessons as we get into our trip:
- Embrace my imagination. I love the creativity of Willy Wonka and what the movie says about the importance of a healthy imagination. As we hit the road we need to use our imagination to find the beauty in every experience, as I expect there will be times it will not be clearly evident.
- Be excited about the adventure. I strive to match the same level of excitement and enthusiasm that Charlie showed when he unwrapped that chocolate bar. I will look forward to each new city and person we meet as an opportunity for excitement.
- Don’t let fear control me. If you have seen the original scene with the boat going through the tunnel, you know it was scary and quite dark. There will certainly be times when we are scared of what lies ahead, but we need to continue to embrace the experience.
- “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” Sometimes, we just need to let go and enjoy ourselves, even if that means being a little silly.
- Smile. I find that smiling helps me to get out of a funk and to deal with challenges in a positive way. Plus, it is always easier to meet new people when you have a smile on your face.
What movie inspires you to live a more imaginative life?