A Deliciously Great Place to Be

​Review of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in Smell-o-Vision at SIFF by Kali Swenson

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Goodie bags are usually given out at the end of a party, but goodie bags are just the beginning at SIFF’s screenings of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in Smell-o-Vision.

The little red bags, containing an assortment of seemingly random items, are the key to a scrumdiddlyumptious time. At first, the contents appear nonsensical, but everything falls into place as soon as the film begins. SIFF has perfectly orchestrated a viewing experience rivaling what Wonka might have created himself.

Now, of course, a classic like Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is great enough on its own. From Charlie Bucket’s hopeful innocence to the Oompa Loompa’s sardonic songs, it’s difficult not to smile and laugh throughout. And it’s equally difficult to not start drooling — who hasn’t dreamed of an entire room made of candy?

But prepared with the goodie bags, SIFF has the drooling taken care of. Viewers get to munch right along with the kids in the chocolate factory, with certain types of candy reserved for certain parts of the movie — like a piece of bubble gum to chew in sync with chewing gum record-holding character Violet Beauregarde.

“Smell-o-Vision” is a bit of a misnomer, but only because the experience of seeing Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory with SIFF in this way is about so much more than the smells. It’s a fully interactive experience, for which all five senses come in handy.

Sure, viewers can smell the tobacco Charlie’s grandfather presumably reeks of, but they also get to hear their neighbors singing in unison with the Oompa Loompas (thanks to on-screen sing-a-long lyrics), taste the smooth sweetness of Wonka’s chocolate river, and pop the bubbles in the Fizzy Lifting Drink Bubble Room.

Only to be outdone by the chocolate factory itself, SIFF’s theater during the Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Smell-o-Vision screenings is a deliciously great place to be.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in Smell-o-Vision
December 17 - 24

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