Unlike many Hollywood types, I've decided to actually read the book.
The Ooompa Loompas in my version (Puffin Modern Classics 2004, Dahl/Blake) are fuzzy headed blond people. What bothers me is Wonka offers them a "better life" in his factory and to get them in Wonka smuggles them in crates with holes! Wonka is glad they all make it, but I'm not convinced he would be devastated if some died. Smuggling people in this fashion can have tragic consequences as I had seen so many times while in Southern California. I'm also sensing the chocolate for drugs substitution--all the chocolate you can want, for free, while I drive you into the ground with hard labor.
I'm also disturbed that Wonka experiments with them. One floats away after drinking the Fizzy Lifting Drink, and the best Wonka can do is call him an ass as he floats away never to be seen again. What about this Oompa Loompa's family? An Ooompa Loompa village appears later in the book--don't they miss the one who floated away?
The full course meal gum is another point of concern--Wonka squeezes about 20 of them to get the blueberry juice out. Does Wonka need 20 data points to be convinced the gum is dangerous? 21 if you count Violet.
Hair Toffee. Another experiment meddling with the genes of these poor little people.
Now, I have to remember that Dahl was a British fighter pilot in World War 2 who was stationed in Africa until his face-shattering crash landing, then served in Washington DC for the RAF. He is also a product of the pre-war Empire. Life became very cheap during the war in some areas, and I wonder if this is reflecting in the book? Is Dahl trying to take something extremely egregious from those times, ie. the concentration camps, and trying to put a whimsical spin on the tragedy in an attempt to soften the blow when children later learn about what really happened?
There is also the question that only those who toe-the-line of social expectations will be rewarded. Charlie is afraid and disadvantaged, but these qualities get him though the tour as "good behavior". Also, all the other kids have both parents for escort in the book, except for Charlie. Fat German gets sucked away right away after stuffing his face with a forbidden out-of-bounds resource, competitive American (?) Violet ignores advice and needs to be squeezed, nouveau riche and spoiled Brit-brat Veruca gets chucked into the garbage with the possibility of being burned
(see above paragraph), and American Mike Teavee is bent on violence only to be done in by his own favorite technology (post-war America and the Atom Bomb?). Charlie has his Grandpa Joe with him which to me seems like a stretch to stay connected with the glory days of old (Empire?). The eight other parents are just as much victims as their children and are also removed as quickly, and take the blame--social commentary here about child raising in different cultures, or even a changing culture at home?
The Indian Prince! Obviously reference to the Empire. However, portrayed as royalty from a colony that is too stupid to know what to do with a great gift.
Or, am I just off my rocker?
I think I now prefer the movies, and the Burton/Depp one slightly more. Now that I think of that film, Burton did bring the parent issue even further forward with Dr. Wonka. We won't get into the burning wax figures right now.....save that one for another day.