One of the most memorable scenes from 1971's Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was when Gene Wilder, as the debonair chocolatier's namesake, brought his guests on board for a ride out of hell. Or into hell.
People are revisiting the so-called family musical-fantasy film and revealing just how much the boat trip screwed with their minds.
The chocolate-borne journey begins peacefully. The Oompa-Loompa-powered "Wonka-tania" pulls up to the dock and the clueless passengers board with a sense of blithe curiosity as Wonka pines, "All I ask is a tall ship and a star to sail her by."
As the boat sailed past the confectionery vegetation with its vivid colors and the dramatic musical score swelled, we wanted to be on that boat too. But nothing prepared viewers for the terror that awaited those passengers inside that dark tunnel; a virtual descent into madness.
By the way, upon second viewing, didn't that chocolate river look more like blood?
@OKBJGM Willy Wonka creepy boat scene & Wilder's line delivery freaked. me. out. as a kid. https://t.co/pYFDlemgrQ— Jo Garfein (@Jo Garfein) 1464626187.0
Turns out the boating experience wasn't for the faint of heart. Those passengers were terrorized by a freakish acid trip of a kaleidoscopic nightmare interspersed with images of chickens getting their heads chopped off. Who comes up with this freakish stuff?
This is not how chocolate is made. What kind of factory is this?
There's no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going
There's no knowing where we're rowing
Or which way the river's flowing
Moviegoers held on for dear life in tandem with Wonka's guests as the quirky navigator delivered nonsensical rhymes. What's happening? Is the boat even moving?
Wilder's genius performance in that role left an indelible impression on all of us.
Is it raining, is it snowing
Is a hurricane a-blowing?
Not a speck of light is showing
So the danger must be growing
Are the fires of Hell a-glowing
Is the grisly reaper mowing?
Yes, the danger must be growing
For the rowers keep on rowing
And they're certainly not showing
Any signs that they are slowing!
Most people's recollection of that intense scene is a traumatizing one.
"How would you describe the current state of international politics?" "You know that bit in willy wonka with the boat and the tunnel? that"— TechnicallyRon (@TechnicallyRon) 1487107367.0
The boat scene from Willy Wonka is by far the most scared I'd ever been as a child. Maybe as an adult, too. #RIP— Trent (@Trent) 1472500669.0
But others found it completely mesmerizing and not scary at all.
@jopinionated @OKBJGM I've always found this scene fascinating rather than spooky. The instability of Willy Wonka's… https://t.co/cE9IlMtJ0d— The Daily Bean (@The Daily Bean) 1524163028.0
Gene Wilder shrieking at a boat full of terrified children sailing on a hallucinogenic dysentery river.More kids movies like this plz #wonka— Jamie Smart (@Jamie Smart) 1368876904.0
As adults, some fears never change.
what scared me at age 8: -quicksand -snakes -boat scene from willy wonka what scares me now: -dying alone -boat scene from willy wonka— Bob Vulfov (@Bob Vulfov) 1504730902.0
College is like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.... But there's not enough candy. And finals week is that horrifying boat ride scene— bridget plunkett (@bridget plunkett) 1430743329.0
Did anyone notice the amount of seats left to accommodate the passengers? The terror was real before the boat even left the dock.
WAIT A MINUTE! There weren't any spare seats on Willy Wonka's car or boat...he knew the kids would fail...he...knew.... http://t.co/j6mPlHiM— Don (@Don) 1357999676.0
Producers initially considered casting Fred Astaire and Joel Grey to play Willy Wonka, but Wilder accepted the role under one condition.
When I make my first entrance, I'd like to come out of the door carrying a cane and then walk toward the crowd with a limp. After the crowd sees Willy Wonka is a cripple, they all whisper to themselves and then become deathly quiet. As I walk toward them, my cane sinks into one of the cobblestones I'm walking on and stands straight up, by itself; but I keep on walking, until I realize that I no longer have my cane. I start to fall forward, and just before I hit the ground, I do a beautiful forward somersault and bounce back up, to great applause.
When asked why he wanted this specific scene in the movie was because "from that time on, no one will know if I'm lying or telling the truth."
Now we can't imagine anyone else playing the role. Johnny Depp fans might disagree.