Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: 30th Anniversary Edition (1971) (NTSC)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 7-Sep-2001

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Biographies-Character
Audio Commentary
Featurette-Pure Imagination
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Featurette-Original Featurette
Karaoke-4
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1971
Running Time 99:39
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (26:37) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,4 Directed By Mel Stuart
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Gene Wilder
Jack Albertson
Peter Ostrum
Roy Kinnear
Julie Dawn Cole
Denise Nickerson
Michael Bollner
Paris Themmen
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Leslie Bricusse
Anthony Newley
Walter Scharf


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English
French
Spanish
Portuguese
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, A Wonka bar, anyone?
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I admit to loving this movie. Always have, always will. Call me silly, but there is something about Willy Wonka that I like. It must be the chocolate. Or is it the timeless classic tale of a hopeless child's dreams come true? Must be the chocolate.

    I certainly hope no one needs a description of the plot, but for the record here it is. The mythical chocolate maker extraordinaire, one Mr. Willy Wonka, who reclusively churns out perfect chocolate bars by the gazillions without anyone knowing his secrets, gives five lucky members of the general wretched public a chance to visit his mysterious factory. Young Charlie (Peter Ostrom) wants nothing more from his life, which up until now has been pretty poor given that a good meal for him is some cabbage water, than to be one of these people. Of course, the chances are slim, but amazingly he finds a golden ticket in a Wonka bar and gets to tour the factory with his trusty Granddad. All manner of strange things happen within this factory, and in the end Charlie gets to own the factory, which results in him passing out and then exploding. No, the last bit doesn't happen, but he does get the factory. A classically simple yet thoroughly charming tale.

    It must be said that this is one of Gene Wilder's finest hours, playing Mr Wonka to absolute perfection. A touch of madness, a large dash of eccentricity and a lot of warmth, he is the essence of this movie and I can't imagine anyone else playing this part as well as he did. Let's not forget the wise little Ooompa-Loompas, who are amusing and insightful, with a lesson in each song!

    So what does this new, 30th Anniversay edition offer? Well, a fair bit – but what the DVD Lord giveth, the DVD Lord also taketh away …

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Let’s get down to the meat of this transfer, and something which should disappoint everyone who holds the original aspect ratio of a movie with revere – this, unlike the original R4 release, is a 1.33:1 transfer. This is unforgivable to me, and is contrary to everything that DVD stands for. It is also doubly surprising given that Warner have been the most ardent supporters of anamorphic widescreen transfers from day one. It is heartening to know that in the U.S., a massive public outcry when faced with the same product resulted in Warner issuing a new 16x9 version. We can be hopeful that he same will happen over here. In contradiction to the warning that precedes the movie, the film has NOT been formatted to fit my 16x9 television.

    It is also surprising that this is an NTSC transfer, and that the colour signal may be lost on some older PAL-only televisions.

    Niggling issues like OAR aside, the transfer as it stands is simply outstanding, and lives and breathes like never before. Comparing it with the original release is like comparing night with day. The picture is sharper than most, and has a surprising vibrancy not becoming a movie as old as I am (cough). Detail levels are stunning, with every strand of Charlie's unkempt hair clearly visible. There is no edge enhancement at all, resulting in a smooth presentation. The image has a great deal of depth to it, with perfect shadow definition and contrast. There is no low level noise, and only a hint of film grain. NTSC or not, this is one of the finest looking DVDs I have laid eyes upon.

    The colours have been especially spruced up, and are now fully saturated and clean as a whistle. This movie more than most relies on a strong colour palette, and unlike the slightly drab transfer before it, now has precisely the look it needed. There is no chroma noise, nor is there even a hint of colour bleeding. Reds are handled to perfection, with no loss of resolution or clarity. This is truly demo material and will have your jaw dropping many times.

    There are no MPEG artefacts. The film artefacts which plagued the original release are gone, and what is left is the odd minor speckle here and there – the restoration work has worked miracles for this film. There is trivial aliasing on a couple of business suits, remarkable for a movie with this much vertical detail.

    The English subtitles are concise, and almost paraphrased in the interests of brevity, a wee bit too much for my liking.

    This move is RSDL formatted, with the layer change occurring during Chapter 14 at 26:37.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is encoded at 448 kilobits per second and is very good indeed. There are also mono French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital soundtracks which are much reduced in fidelity and pale in comparison.

    Dialogue was at all times very clear and synced.

    The music is quite wonderfully presented, and has a nice warmth and clarity about it. As with the original release, it presents a wide soundstage, though is very frontal.

    The surrounds were hardly used, and would hardly be missed if they were turned off.

    The subwoofer aided with the bottom end of the music, but other than that was silent.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Introduction

Menu Animation & Audio

    A nice menu structure, and a far cry from the original static menu.

Biographies-Character

    These bios are of the characters, and not of the actors which makes hardly any sense.

Audio Commentary

    This is a cool idea – get all the Wonka kids together, 30 years later, and leave them to it as they watch the movie at the same time. It stumbles at first, but once into gear is really very enjoyable. It is clear that Paris Themmen, who played Mike TeeVee (or variously T.V. or TeaVee) is the ring-leader and tends to prompt the others. Poor Augustus (Michael Bollner) seems reluctant to be there, and whenever he does get a word in edgewise is talked over by the rest of the crew. It is a case of egos at battle sometimes, but it worth a listen.

Featurette – Pure Imagination (30:24 minutes)

     This is a delightful reminisce of the movie from today's perspective, including interviews with the “Wonka Kids” as they are wont to be called. I was intrigued to learn that the whole movie was conceived as a promotion for a new “Wonka bar” from Quaker Oats, who put up $3 million to produce it. However, when the move was released the chocolate formula was wrong and the bars had to be recalled, so the film was released without any bars for the kids to buy! It’s also cool to see the kids all grown up. Most are now accountants or financial advisors, with Charlie now a veterinarian – he eschewed a 3-movie contract!

Theatrical Trailer (3:04 minutes)

    This is in average nick, and is presented at 1.78:1 non 16x9 enhanced with Dolby Digital 1.0 mono.

Gallery-Photo

    18 black & white stills from the movie.

Featurette – Original Making Of (4:03 minutes)

    This is over before it begins. My only note for it is literally “blah”, so it can’t have impressed me that much.

Karaoke

    Here you get to sing along to 4 songs in isolation, with lyrics in Wonka-style writing overlaid and highlighted in time.

    This disc also has a jacket image and DVD-Text information, something never normally seen in R4 land, which is a pity.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This version is identical to the R1 full-frame release in every way, including NTSC formatting. As a result of a massive public backlash against the full-frame release, Warner also released a widescreen version in Region 1.

Summary

    This is an almost perfect reissue of an earlier bare-bones disc. The video is exemplary, the sound is very good and the extras are meaningful. It is a great pity that we have only the 1.33:1 transfer, and that is why I have given only 4 stars for video. I hope Warner does the right thing and releases a 1.78:1 version for those of us who want to see the remastered video in all its glory.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Paul Cordingley (bio)
Friday, December 28, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-900E, using RGB output
DisplayPioneer SD-T43W1 16:9 RPTV. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DB-930
SpeakersFront & Rears: B&W DM603 S2, Centre: B&W LCR6, Sub: B&W ASW500

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Derek B

Comments (Add)
Any news on an R4 widescreen DVD release? - Sam
Sam - J Sebastian
R4 Widescreen ? - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)
Re: Any news on an R4 widescreen DVD release? - Anonymous
don't count on it - bobafett_h (read my bio)