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(Credit: Alamy)


The scene removed from 'Willy Wonka' for being 'too real'


There’s a warm glow that emanates from the stories of Roald Dahl. No matter the adaptation, such was the expert writing from the children’s author that every turning page, no matter the trepidation, felt like a restorative step towards inner peace and serene happiness. His stories are so beloved that a cache of Hollywood adaptations seemed like an inevitability. Over the years, some of these films have flown while others have flopped. However, if we were to pick the ultimate retelling of Dahl’s work, then it is difficult to look past the Gene Wilder-led triumph that is 1971’s Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

Directed by Mel Stuart, the film tells the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a novel released only a few years prior in 1964. Charlie Bucket lives out his dream of visiting the chocolate factory after finding a coveted golden ticket. Throughout the film, he explores the magical factory and its singing occupants, with each room providing a handy song, a fun lesson and an unwilling end for one of the other children invited to visit the factory. As children begin dropping like flies, and the newly announced opportunity to won the factory becomes real for Charlie, the tension ramps up for a magnificent finale.

It’s a tale that has now reached a golden and unreachable status. Outside of Wilder’s defining role as Willy Wonka, the film played heavily with the morality of society, as the poor child Charlie fights against adversities including money, greed, disrespect and violence with only kindness and honesty as his defences; he shows us how we can all triumph in such circumstances. It was a lesson gleefully dolled out by parents who took their children to the cinema for this viewing. However, the film is missing what could be a crucial scene.

Willy Wonka is full of famous scenes. Whether it is the moment the children enter the chocolate room, something that Stuart denied the group until they shot the scene in order to gain an authentic reaction or when Violet ballons into a blueberry. Equally, in one of the climactic scenes where Wonka denies Charlie the keys to the factory on a technicality, screaming “you get nothing,” all of the plotlines point towards lessons in morality.

But one scene was removed from the original film for being “too real”. The director lamented in his book Pure Imagination: The Making of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that his favourite scene was cut from the final film. Many comic interludes were shot for the town scenes, and one saw an explorer climbing an unruly mountain. As he reaches his summit, he comes across a guru and hands him a Wonka bar in the hope of finding one of those gleaming, precious tickets.

Handing the bar over, a smile breaks across the guru’s face before unwrapping the chocolate treat and discovering that no ticket was contained inside. Rather than smile graciously, he says, “Life is a disappointment.” The director loved the scene and was upset to see few audiences laugh during the test screenings. So dismayed, he invited a psychologist to look over the scene and received a similarly muted response, finally being told the issue: “You don’t understand, Mel. For a great many people, life is a disappointment.”

It’s hard to tell if the film would have been improved by such an existential addition, but given the myriad of other life lessons to be learned within the reels, this one feels just as important.