One of my favorite movies of all time is the classic 1971 feature Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Today we learned that the director Mel Stuart has died at age 83.
Mel Stuart, the director of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, has died aged 83.
His family said he died at his Beverly Hills home after suffering from cancer.
Beginning his career mainly directing documentaries, the 1971 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book was Stuart’s second feature film.
He was nominated for an Oscar in 1965 for his documentary, Four Days in November, about the assassination of John F Kennedy.
According to his own website, Stuart made more than 180 films.
However he was best-known for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder.
The other film of his I fondly remember was “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium”, which starred Suzanne Pleshette who I already loved from the Bob Newhart Show.
The image at top shows Stuart with some of the Oompa Loompas (from LoompaLand, of course). Here he is with some of the actors during a 2011 40th anniversary reunion:
During the making of Willy Wonka Stuart used a number of techniques to get the impact he wanted from shots. Most famously he created the chocolate room from the ‘Pure Imagination’ scene but did the blocking for the scene before it was created – so it was the first time the actors (particularly the children) were seeing the room. This was the joy and awe you see are real.
And infamously, he provided scant details about the tunnel scene to the actors other than Gene Wilder, so when the total darkness and scary images are playing and Wonka starts singing, the terror on the actors faces is very real!
To remember the enduring masterpiece of Mel Stuart, here are some clips from Willy Wonka:
The Pure Imagination scene entering the chocolate room
The ‘freak out’ Boat Trip
Willy Wonka’s Grand Entrance
And Veruca singing ‘I want it NOW’
Source: BBC News