Come with me and you’ll be in a world of Pure Imagination. What you’ll see will defy explanation. If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it….Willy Wonka
I woke up this morning to the sad news that the comic genius Gene Wilder had passed away. He had a huge back catalogue of brilliant acting and comedic roles, yet to a vast majority of the world, he was simply Willy Wonka, the man who piqued the imagination of childhood.
I was 10 when the movie was made, but I didn’t see it until I was an adult. I didn’t really ever go to the cinema as a child, so it just never crossed my path. When I had children of my own and wanted them to be inspired by books, the way I was, I discovered the bizarre world of Roald Dahl which led to finally watching the classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with them.
From the moment I walked with the other kids into that room, filled with chocolate rivers, edible flowers and lickable wallpaper, I fell in love. Not only with Willy Wonka himself and his lonely soul but with the world of Pure Imagination he introduced us to. He was good and evil all rolled into one character. He wasn’t the sweet charming heroes we had been fed all our lives. He was a delightful blend of light and shadow, of nice and nasty, of sweetness and scariness.
While I watched it, my imagination came back to life. It had lay dormant for many years at that time, but suddenly, it woke up and demanded attention again. I don’t know about you, but when he took the winners and their families on that boat ride, I was terrified. He became completely insane at that moment and I was as scared as the kids. When he yelled at Charlie and told him he wasn’t getting the factory because he’d disobeyed the rules, I was angry at him. But when he shared his vision of the factory with the visitors, I shared his joy and his passion.
The movie brought imagination to life in such a powerful way that today the world is mourning, not just Gene Wilder but Willy Wonka himself. (sorry, Johnny Depp just didn’t cut it). Listening to the words of Pure Imagination, it’s so appropriate for today. The world is paradise if we just look for it. And we can change the world if we want to. Gene Wilder did just that. Rest in Peace with your beloved Gilda, Gene.. Vale Willy Wonka. You will be alive in the hearts and imaginations of not just those already enamoured with your portrayal of Willy Wonka, but many generations yet to be enthralled.