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Thursday 20 April 2023

Tell Us About....Whimsy

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, the definition of a whimsical character according to blogger Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton

Dear friends. The monthly Tell Us About challenge is back, and this time it's set by Mary Katherine of MK's Adventures.  MK, a US based blogger, chose Whimsy.

It was surprisingly difficult. I had imagined there would be a lot out there on Google and possibly even a museum of whimsy I could visit.  Well there are, two - but both in America. 

It seems Whimsy is not a thing in the UK.  In the UK we are more inclined to be eccentric than whimsical. 

The difference for me is that a whimsical person is inclined to flights of fancy, wanting things to be better, imagining a different world.  An eccentric person, on the other hand, exhibits behaviour in the way they dress or talk, which is not perceived to be the norm. 

But I have found a great example, I think, of whimsy. 

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory 

Author Roald Dahl was born in Wales of Norwegian parents, so I'm claiming this one as British.  One of his best known creations was the story which became the magical 1971 musical film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). It starred Gene Wilder as the delightfully whimsical character Willy Wonka. 

The story is about a poor but good-hearted child, Charlie Bucket, who wins a golden ticket to visit the Wonka chocolate factory. He finds he's one of a group  of children with a golden ticket. Things turn a bit macabre at the factory when the other children are punished for their bad traits, gluttony, selfishness and so on.  Even Charlie and his granddad succumb to greediness and are told they won't win the prize. But there is a happy ending.

Gene Wilder's portrayal of Willy Wonka was a delight.  He confounds us right from the start, when he limps slowly out of the chocolate factory, a rarely seen eccentric, and then suddenly performs a cartwheel. 

From that moment,  we can see the fundamental dishonesty of Wonka’s character, a man who doesn’t really want to live in the adult world, who pretends not to hear when asks difficult questions and inhabits a world of his own making.

The world of Wonka chocolate is dazzling and technicolour with chocolate lakes and boats made of sweets that actually sale. 

Roald Dahl didn't like Gene Wilder's portrayal 

Surprisingly, Roald Dahl had serious reservations about the casting of Gene Wilder.  A friend of Dahl's, Donald Sturrock, told Business Insider: "He had serious reservations about Gene Wilder's performance as Wonka, which he thought 'pretentious' and insufficiently 'gay [in the old-fashioned sense of the word] and bouncy'". Sturrock wrote that Dahl had wanted either Spike Milligan or Peter Sellers to play the part instead.  He didn't care for the music either. 

The film was remade in 2005 with Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka. Film reviewer Roger Ebert wrote that the film succeeded in spite of Depp's performance, which he found creepy. 

The film is now being remade for a third time, this time starring Timothée Chalamet, above. The film Wonka will focus on a young Willy Wonka and his adventures prior to opening the world’s most famous chocolate factory. Wonka will mark the first time Chalamet gets to show off his singing and dancing. 

Was this a film you loved?  Do you think it encapsulates the word "Whimsy?"  (I'm starting to sound like a book club prompt.....). Do tell in the comments! 

Now read my friends' interpretation of Whimsy

Debbie from Deb's World, Australia, likes the mindset of a life of whimsy. "It encourages us to step outside of the mundane and explore the possibilities of the impossible, to see the beauty in the unusual and the humour in the everyday. And isn’t that a great way to live?" Read her post

Penny from Frugal Fashion Shopper went a bit off piste with this one as she wondered what exactly Whimsy meant, it being a word we don’t use a lot in the UK. She got there (she thinks) eventually! Read Penny's post. 

Michelle from Following My Muse is sharing Whimsy: The Art of Yarn Bombing.

Mary Katherine, whose prompt this was, is a big believer in the value of "whimsy" in life, and not taking yourself too seriously. Read her post

If you liked this, take a look at our previous collaborations for Tell Us About:

Sharing this post with #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Rena at Fine WhateverTalent Sharing Tuesdays at Scribbling Boomer #Neverendingstyle at The Grey Brunette, Final Friday at Marsha in the Middle


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1 comment

  1. I had thought of writing about these movies, myself! I really can't choose between the two of them. I loved Gene Wilder's version because it was just such an amazing movie for its time. But, the Johnny Depp movie, for all it's creepiness, was more in keeping with the book. I didn't know they were making a third. That will definitely be interesting!



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