Wednesday, November 30, 2016

REVIEW: Willy Wonka Smell-O-Vision

Gene Wilder stars in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Paramount Pictures)
The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) is currently presenting the 1971 movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in “smell-o-vision” at their jewel box theater located in the Seattle Center. I got a chance to try out the experience for myself and to my surprise, over half of the crowd that attended the showing were adults.

Now, I’ve seen the original film numerous times growing up and thought that I had it memorized. As a kid, before Charlie makes it to the factory, the story seemed slow and even boring at times. However, as an adult I now realize how clever the writing actual was for this film and I really enjoyed watching every scene. Also, many, like myself, have only seen the movie on TV, so to see if large on the screen (and with good clarity I might add) with a crowd of fans was a great experience. I truly loved hearing the children around me make comments or give ideas on how Charlie could find that elusive golden ticket. Gene Wilder truly was a great Willy Wonka and with his recent passing, seeing the film again became even more special.

Created to be a multi-sensory event, the “smell-o-vision” version was a lot of fun. We were given a goody bag upon entering the theater that contained a golden ticket, some scratch and sniff stickers, some treats and “special effects” to be used while watching the movie. Also, the lyrics to all of the songs were shown on the screen so the audience could sing along. Only a few sang during most of the songs, but pretty much everyone joined in on the numerous Oopa Loompa songs.

Before the main feature, a special short educational film from the 1960s about the making of chocolate was shown which was pretty awesome to watch as well. (Although to learn that chocolate is not really churned by a waterfall was a bit disappointing.)

Overall, this was a fun experience and the kids that were in attendance seemed to have a good time too. However, don’t expect the special effects to be done in the grand tradition of a Disney theme park ride. The theater did use a bubble machine for one scene in the film with was an excellent touch. If SIFF could figure out a way to incorporate more effects like that, it would be the experience more off an adventure. The biggest challenge we had to face was actually finding the theater (it's near the Pacific Northwest Ballet) so give yourself plenty of time to find it.

The movie is currently being shown every Friday-Sunday through January 2, 2017. Click here for more information.

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