Contributed by Josh Fryfogle
Gene Wilder always made me a bit nervous. Something about his style, his persona - only slightly so. Just enough to keep my young mind wondering about the fellow I thought to be Willy Wonka.
Hearing of his passing, I think of those songs in that movie. "Pure Imagination" is a masterpiece of pop culture. A perfect entrance to a land of candy, my young mind was completely transported. Yet Mr. Wonka seemed to be back in the real world, while guiding me into this fantasy. Unimpressed with the brightly colored, edible Eden, Wonka just sat back feigning interest.
Perhaps what was most appealing to me as a boy was that every scene of that classic movie had some moral to be taught. Gluttony, vanity and the list goes on. Each indulgence was offset by Charlie's heart. He was always too amazed - as was I watching the movie - at the spectacle of it all, to let reality get in the way of his experience.
Meanwhile, Mr. Slugworth was there, all along the way, tempting and trying him. Charlie's trial is played out on screen, surrounded by contrast. His drab appearance and humble attitude kept my childlike mind identifying with his role.
Charlie was thankful for the experience. In the end, he had failed, and he knew it. He didn't let the emotions of others dissuade him from acceptance. He had failed.
But there was hope!
He had one more chance to not fail.
He quietly returned the Everlasting Gobstopper, his chance at fortune, at the expense of Willy Wonka - now revealed to be the passionate man that only Wilder could have delivered. Wonka was disgusted, appalled at all the disregard caused by the vice and vanity of his guests, Charlie included. But the smallest act, from the truest heart, was enough.
Wonka quotes Shakespeare: "So shines a good deed in a weary world."
Charlie bursts through that glass ceiling in the end, soaring above his circumstance. Seeing it all for what it was, so small and temporary, it made his new responsibility that much more exciting! He was prepared, he passed the trial and he understood.
So shines a good deed...