Charlie Bucket is a humble boy whose humility shines brightly in a dark and weary world. We’ll discuss this and other Christian themes we found in WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY on this episode of the Finding Christ In Cinema podcast.

For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction and Previous Episode Recap
  • 00:04:16 – Movie Discussion
  • 00:23:08 – Christian Themes in WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
  • 01:03:40 – Listener Challenge and Feedback
  • 01:14:39 – Well-mannered Frivolity
  • 01:28:32 – Lightning Round 
  • 01:31:40 – Upcoming 

Willy Wonka, Humility, and the Light of the World

Charlie Bucket is a young boy who lives in the heart of poverty. His mother washes clothes for a living, his four grandparents are bedridden, and he barely makes enough money to buy a loaf of bread for all of them. With all this holding him back, however, he’s still honest, trustworthy, caring, and humble. These are traits that aren’t as common in the world of this film; indeed, Charlie is the only one of the five Golden Ticket children who possesses these noble qualities.

So when the adversarial Slugworth corners Charlie in the tunnel, he tries to take advantage of these gifts and twist them. He wants Charlie to steal the Everlasting Gobstopper for him so that he can duplicate the recipe for his own brand. He offers Charlie enough money to take care of himself, his mother, and grandparents for the rest of all their lives. It’s an offer Charlie has a hard time refusing and one with which he wrestles even as he ventures into the Chocolate Factory.

This image from WILLY WONKA shows Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket.

Once the group gets to the Inventing Room within the factory, Willy Wonka finally reveals the Everlasting Gobstopper. He explains that he made it for children with “very little pocket money.” Charlie is the only one in the group that knows that kind of life. Just before Wonka gives the children a Gobstopper, he makes them promise not to share them with anyone. Veruca, Violet, and Mike don’t intend on keeping that promise, but Charlie…well, he’s still an impressionable kid probably still making up his mind.

As the tour comes to a close, Charlie is the only one left, and Wonka cordially dismisses him and Grandpa Joe from the premises. But Grandpa Joe goes after Wonka and asks about the “lifetime supply of chocolate” that was promised at the onset of finding the Golden Ticket. Wonka frenetically informs Grandpa Joe and Charlie that because they breached the contract, they are no longer promised that reward. A brief but heated discourse unfolds between Grandpa Joe and Willy Wonka, and the former leaves with the intent of giving Slugworth the Everlasting Gobstopper. But humble Charlie gives the candy back to Wonka; “so shines a good deed in a weary world.”

This image from WILLY WONKA shows Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka.

Willy Wonka snaps back into a joyful state as he informs Charlie and Grandpa Joe that it was all a test and that Charlie has won. As he further deliberates in the glass elevator, Wonka had been looking for a successor the whole time. That’s why he sent out the Golden Tickets in the first place. He wanted to find the right child to whom he could pass on the factory. A part of being this successor means that Charlie and the whole family can move into the factory and live out the rest of their days happily ever after.

So many Christians themes flow through this story that it’s hard to pinpoint just one, but Michael and I have chosen the theme of humility. Just like Willy Wonka in the movie, we see Charlie’s character as noble and kingdom-worthy. Charlie’s humility is a facet of what Jesus means when he calls his followers “the light of the world,” and it’s an example to which we can all pay a little more attention. Because when we ourselves are humble, it’s a lot easier for others to see who’s really in charge of our lives. When we take ourselves out of the way, people can see God a whole lot more clearly.

Key Texts

James 3:13 NLT

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.

2 Peter 1:10-11 NASB

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes – including links to articles discussed on the show – by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. He has his M.A. in Theatre Arts and is always looking for a good way to use stories to soften peoples' hearts. Find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @LeviTheBeliever.
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