Catching Up

I hate getting behind on my posts. But it happens.

Watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last night (the new Tim Burton-ized version), I realized that the whole movie is about overcoming (or not overcoming) temptation. Burton introduces a more playfully malevolent Willy Wonka to the world. (Gene Wilder's, after all, doesn't approach the quirkiness of either Burton's Wonka or that of Roald Dahl in the novel; except in the tunnel scene–brrrr.) The children pick up on the oddness of the Oompa Loompas' having a song ready for each child, and Burton and Depp give us the impression that Wonka planned the seduction of the children.

On another level, though, you might say he was testing them, which in fact he was. Each child has the chance to get something they desperately want.

  • Augustus falls prey to the Chocolate Room, where his entire world is edible.
  • Violet finds the gum to end all gums.
  • Veruca sees an animal unlike any she's ever seen. (Burton foreshadows her animal covetousness when she gets the Golden Ticket and tells her father, "I want another pony.")
  • Mike has a chance to enter the TV world in which he's participated from afar.

Charlie's temptation is quite different, and not a Wonka test at all. Charlie faces the temptation we all face: getting everything we ever wanted at the expense of real relationships. He idolizes Wonka, idealizes the factory itself (as we see in the early scene where he's built the factory out of toothpaste tube caps), and he has the chance to inherit the factory and become Wonka. But only if he will sacrifice his family and become Wonka's heir.

Withstanding this temptation ultimately brings Wonka back to him, curious about this deep love.

That's exactly what we all face. Almost anyone can get everything he wants. But the price is the same for all of us–deep, meaningful relationships with those we love and who love us most. From the tempter's perspective, disconnecting us from ourselves, our families, and God Himself is his goal. Even the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness, which John later calls "the lust of the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life", mirror the deal offered to all of us.

But Charlie says no. And so must we. Because when we do, we can receive the abundant life Jesus promised–which ultimately gives us more than we ever wanted.

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One thought on “Catching Up”

  1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory…it is one of my favorite children’s books and I do love the recent film adaptation. I think I enjoy the recent film so much because the theme of temptation is more apparent. In the Willy Wonka, everyone is tempted and everyone fails, even Charlie (the gas room, anyone?). There is no Christ-figure, no pure of heart. But in Burton’s Charlie, there is a Christ-figure and Charlie is shown to be pure of heart (there is also that wonderful reconciliation factor with Wonka and his father…hmm). Good triumphs! Right provails! Good job Tim Burton.

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