As a kid, I devoured any book I could and Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a favorite. I still vividly remember the first time I got to watch the story come to life on-screen. Back when Blockbuster was popular, my family rented Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on VHS. Filmed in 1971, the movie remains timeless and Gene Wilder's role as Willy Wonka was — and still is — iconic. Unfortunately, Wilder died at age 83, the Associated Press reported on Monday. And if you're going to celebrate his life in any way, let it be by re-watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory . Specifically, the scene where he sings "Pure Imagination."
With roles in Young Frankenstein and The Producers, Wilder is renowned as an actor, yet this Willy Wonka moment proves he's a talented singer as well. This scene is when Wonka introduces the Golden Ticket holders to his factory. As he does so, he bursts into song. Actually, it almost feels wrong to just call it a "song," since it's such a beautiful ballad. The movie even received a 1972 Oscar nomination for Best Original Score, likely because of this track — which appears not only in this scene, but plays during the film's opening and closing credits.
Plus, Wonka's factory itself is magical and embodies every kid's imagination come to life. Who wouldn't want to live in a land of candy trees and giant gummy bears? It's a sugary, chocolate paradise.
Knowing that Wilder is no longer alive definitely changes the scene a bit. The already heartwarming moment just became simultaneously heartbreaking. But another reason it's worth watching is that it encompasses the overarching theme of the movie: the power of the imagination. Wonka's character shows that if you want to, you can bring any vision to life — even if that vision is a land entirely made of chocolate.
To keep Wilder's memory alive, these "Pure Imagination" lyrics feel fitting:
If you want to view paradiseSimply look around and view itAnything you want to, do itWant to change the world?There's nothing to it
The actor certainly left his mark on the world as Wonka, and he'll be sorely missed.
Image: Paramount Pictures