I was just rewatching Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory and watched the tunnel trip what the fuck? what the hell is the meaning of it, its like the beginning of persona, what the fuck its a kids movie and their showing like a bad trip on it.
There is a lot to fear in that movie. The boat trip is probably the scariest.
Many of the best kid’s stories have an element of darkness—just look at Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Children are able to cope with that darkness differently than adults—they don’t have the context of war and politics and betrayal that we all learn as we get older. They just see good guys and bad guys. It’s simple, and in the end the good guys usually win, so they’re okay with it. The darkness doesn’t linger as much as the giant Gummy Bears, in the case of the OP.
Favorites from my childhood that have this quality:
The Dark Crystal
The Secret of NIMH
Dahl’s books tend to be pretty dark and hallucinatory compared to typical kid lit.
Oh I forgot ALL about Dragonslayer!
Yeah, the tunnel thing scared me when I was little. I think the point was that bad little kids were to be punished by fright.
Fear is a fundamental human emotion. We’re set up to process it from birth. Allowing that in a kid’s film is a way of not condescending to them as if they can’t handle it. The world is scary. They understand this (my three year old is afraid of june bugs, despite our explanations of their innocuousness), so I think it shows a maturity and respect on the part of the author (or auteur, or whathaveyou) to allow for it.
It’s also fun to be scared by books or movies, since ultimately there’s nothing to be afraid about.
I never liked being scared and I never will. My kids however, appear to enjoy it. Esp. my son.
There’s been some pretty big cultural and marketing shifts in the last thirty years as well that have changed some of the ideas about what a “kid’s film” is. Before the seventies, and even more so before VHS, a “pure” kids film was more rare than nowadays, although they certainly did exist. More usually, I think, they aimed at making family films, films that had some appeal for a larger group than just children. These may not have had equal appeal to all, but there was an unwillingness to totally write off the adult market, especially given that those kids would have to be accompanied by adults to watch the films. What was deemed suitable for children was therefore less about what was suitable for children alone, but what was considered acceptable and interesting for a whole family. There was more of an assumption that kids wouldn’t pick up on references not clearly stated, which allowed for more leeway in what could be said, and there was also less of a concern for the lowest common denominator type thinking or for media saturation effects as kids actually played outside and weren’t as exposed to media all the time so the fears that became more common as we moved closer to the eighties didn’t really play as much of a role.
Once the mid seventies came around the marketing started to change and more and more films were aimed at narrower segments of the audience, in particular, teens as they were becoming the market segment that provided the biggest profit due to their repeat viewing behavior and due to the drop off in adults going to the theater thanks to television and demographic shifts. By the time VHS came around films could be marketed more directly to children as they were a big force in buying decisions as the VCR as baby sitter became more common as both parents started to need to work to support a family and kids started to consume a lot more media due to increasing availability, lessening options for other freetime activities, and growing sophistication of media companies in aiming content, and advertising at kids.
These things didn’t happen all at once, they built up over time and were increasingly noticeable and commented on as the seventies progressed and the eighties rolled around. As House points out there were still some films that crossed lines in later years, but changes in the rating system and the expectations of parents, children, and groups with an interest in the issues, either morally or financially, has made it an rapidly shifting front as what was considered appropriate for children, and thus the concerned citizens who were morally outraged by some random thing or another was pitted against the desires of the kids themselves to see the films that allegedly weren’t appropriate for them. The G rated film, which once was considered a reasonable rating for all family fare and even some movies not of interest for kids at all, started to become poisonous to slightly older kids and certainly so to adults, the PG film which at one point was a standard rating for films dealing with adult themes but without excess in certain areas, then became the more acceptable level for kids once they were increasingly catered to, that left a gulf in the rating system so the PG13 came in to take the place of the old PG, but that quickly became pointless as studios found that it was more desirable to market to that rating than PG so they would make sure to add a little swearing or what have you to get there. The R rating which was once of some significance eventually became what it is today which is largely pointless in terms of theme other than a way to suggest the movie isn’t a kids flick. There is only minimal coherence to the ratings or the ideas behind them now other than as signals on the far ends of the spectrum, the G film is now a pure kids category, meaning most adults would want nothing to do with the films unless they are from Pixar or some other animation company perhaps, and the R films are mostly just not for kids in raised strict households except when they are visiting their friends homes.
The marketing of films however still remains much different than when Willy Wonka came out, and intertwined with that is the narrower thematic concerns withing most films in the US. Movies intended for general appeal have given way to blockbusters which have a different reason for being. It used to be that children were seen as being something like a part of the audience that would go along with a family to a film, and occasionally be catered to directly has now become the audience that might drag an adult to a film and is catered to slavishly. (This is also helped by the realization that adults aren’t really so adult in their viewing anymore and that the same sort of spectacle can appeal to both groups. It may be there has been a change in adult tastes, a better understanding of them, a shift in media over the years that has dramatically changed the movie going adult population, or all of the above, but it appears to me that things really have changed enormously since the time Willy Wonka came out.)
This is all just my take on the way things have changed here in the US not something I can prove exactly, so take it for what its worth in addition to the the Dahl aspect and other considerations.
Yes, watch a film like Altered States which is rated PG but would absolutely be an R today (some violence, a little nudity, and serious use of psychotropic drugs).
I have children, and I defend them from certain things until they’re old enough to deal with them, but I don’t shield them from the way the world is, and I think it’s important to give them glimpses of that proportional to their level of experience. Part of that are these dark stories we’re talking about—hearts being cut out in Snow White and such.
I’m a firm believer in dodgeball, too.
Hmmm… I don’t know. Kids are certainly shielded and can be more shielded than is “normal” in many ways. But… even if they don’t know QUITE what is going on, kids are pretty intuitive and know that SOMETHING outside their experience is going on and is part of the world, for better or for worse.
Now and then my kids ask me to tell them a story in the dark, as we fall asleep (which I make up). They participate and add characters, and sometimes suggest themes. In the last couple of weeks I’ve felt that due to the things they were asking to be part of the story I was telling them, they were more ready for some of the uncertainty and fear that is featured in more grown up stories. The first story, which I ended in a “safe” manner with the couple in question escaping from the bad guys, who were handled by the police, had capture, abduction, threats, and very mild violence in it. The second story which I started the other night, has magic and the fear of the unknown.
In the past, I would have stayed away from themes like that, and last summer’s “stories in the dark” had really goofy silly themes. But for whatever reason this year, without my moving them in any direction toward darker things, they’re interested in that.
Guess it’s a stage in development…
Culture is more overprotective in general nowadays. Even a film like Wizard Of Oz is now deemed too scary for kids.
A couple decades ago, kids were expected to learn to be thick skinned and deal with reality sooner. If a kid was bullied, he was told to learn to fight back. Now, there is a desire to keep children pure and pristine long into their teenage years, and if a kid is bullied, he’s told to run straight to the teachers.
A 1980s playground was twice as high off the ground and made of wood and interconnected steel. A current playground is two feet off the ground and made of molded plastic, and they even got rid of the sand because of germ concerns. A kid scraping his knee is now considered a legal incident.
And people wonder why there are 25 year olds still living at home.
Weird, my copy of ALTERED STATES is R, which sounds appropriate to me.
“A kid scraping his knee is now considered a legal incident.”
Are you serious? Where??
I think you’re making a LOT of generalizations here, Jirin.
As for being thick skinned and dealing with reality sooner, I’d say it depends on what kind of household you came from. Mine was VERY sheltered. My husband’s was not. That continues to happen today — it depends on the parents and what they desire in terms of child rearing.
EDIT — I’ll say America here instead of including Europe, because not sure this applies to all countries in Europe: In America, childhood was extended during the Victorian years into teenage-dom. This is HIGHLY different from for example, the European Middle Ages. This extension continues today, in particular in America where it is no longer considered enough or acceptable to stop schooling at 18 and go to work, but continue until you’re 21 with college education.
25 year olds living at home — have you noticed the shape of the economy lately??
Here, about the Victorian idea of childhood, I think this extends into our culture to this day.
You’re right, I am using hyperbole.
I mean, America has become so liability-obsessed that institutions construct their regulations around their fear of lawsuits, especially when it comes to children. You’re not just responsible for your own actions — you’re responsible for anybody else’s actions that occur on your premises, or the consequences of their own reckless behavior, or for any innocent accidents that occur that you have the slightest bit to do with. Wave somebody else’s money in a person’s face — they don’t care whether or not they actually deserve it.
There are 25 year olds living at home who are applying to jobs and going to school, and that is because of the economy. There are others who are living at home because they can do so comfortably, and it’s easier than facing the real world and getting a job. Or they have a job and still have no desire to leave the nest because they’re so accustomed to the comfort — the alternative is dealing with bills on your own, cooking your own meals, and maybe having a roommate.
Unfunny joke deleted.
Can someone explain why at the beginning of the film the candy shop owner was giving out candy to all the children but Charlie never went in to get any? Is this the only candy shop in history where all the costumers are given credit?
@Malik — I don’t remember that part well. Ultimately, you can’t really use logic when watching Willie Wonka.
@Jirin — where are the statistics about this — I mean, it can’t be as bad as this. There isn’t the culture for THAT here.
^ I lived in a town in CT where it was almost as bad as that, Odil. Me and my friends were like wtf?
Really? Well that’s a new cultural phenomenon – and it’s certainly not the usual American way! (which in the past was to kick the kid out of the house at 18)…
It’s the Italian-American way, at least it was in CT when I lived there in the 90s.
Oh well that explains it — the Italian influence. But surely outside of that Italian “thang” it can’t be a phenomenon other than because of the economy, right?
Right, it’s an Italian cultural thang.
Ha ha — and it ain’t a good thang.
Well, Italians do have a joie de vivre (don’t know the Italian version of that phrase, lol). And passione.
Ha ha! Don’t get me started. I’m half Italian, was born there & it was my first language…
Great point, Greg.
I think you and I agree on a basic point though, that the line of adulthood is being raised higher and higher and getting more blurry. Children aren’t expected to deal with real world issues until they’re 18 or higher, and then they don’t know how to deal with them. I’ve heard stories where people had their mothers call their bosses for them. A good friend of mine is making six figures and still living at home. So, films that were considered child friendly a while ago like Willy Wonka and Wizard Of Oz are now considered too scary.
Yeah, that’s called “helicopter parenting.” Ridiculous. And I certainly won’t be doing that to my kids, who really does that kind of parenting do a service to??
And… my kids have seen both Willy Wonka and The Wizard of Oz (we own a DVD of that one), since we saw them when we were young, so can they.
Believe me, though some parents may get the press for not cutting the cord, so to speak, there are plenty of us out there who are trying to raise our children to be ADULTS.
One that used to give me some spooks as a kid was Return to Oz. Now that’s some scary stuff.
I think this is one of those cases where it’s easy to say “Oh when I was growing up…” and imagine things to be more idealistic than they actually were. We may imagine we were “dealing” with world issues when we were younger but what real world issues were you really dealing with at 15 or 16?
Lunch pail trees were cool though!
I grew up with Salvadore Dali paintings in my bedroom, I used to have nightmares and the paintings being the backdrop and me usually being terrified by the guy from scream the painting, in fact you look back at childhood with nostalgia but in truth their was a shit load of fear in childhood, fear of the unknown mainly, but also weird stuff. I wonder if Salvadore Dali had nightmares about Rembrant? Just saying pertaining to the fucked up scary childhood thing, i mean look at Dali he must have an interesting childhood.