¡Charlie Cubeta y la Fábrica de Chocolate!

My kid loves to watch movies in Spanish. Not Spanish language movies, but movies she’s already committed to memory with the Spanish audio track turned on. And now that she’s learning to read, she likes to see the Spanish subtitles, too.

I can’t tell you exactly why she likes to do this, but like most of her weirdness, it’s probably my fault. For years, I would bug my wife with questions about how to say this, that, and the other thing in Spanish. As an alternate means to expand my vocabulary, one meant to prevent my wife from murdering me, I began to watch Simpsons DVDs with the Spanish audio track on and Spanish subtitles. This was where I learned such valuable words as chuleta, salchicha, and trasero.

I’m sure my kid saw me doing this at some point in her formative years, because when she was very little, “Simpsons” was her catch-all word for “cartoons.” Now, she now gets really annoyed if she’s watching a DVD only to discover it doesn’t have a Spanish language track. Between DVDs, DVRs, and OnDemand, she lives in a world that denies her nothing. Healthy!

As I am still learning Spanish myself, I’ve been encouraging this curious proclivity of hers. The Harry Potter films are the ones she likes to watch in Spanish most often. (This is how I learned that cicatriz is scar and varita is wand; “muggle” is still “muggle.”) But last night, she asked to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in Spanish. To call this an experience would be a gross understatement.

Here are some highlights of the bilingual discoveries I made while viewing this classic film en español.

  • Willy Wonka’s Spanish subtitles translated “scrumdiddlyumptious” as “rechupeteanchus.” The audio had a completely different nonsense word that I couldn’t discern because I was laughing too hard.
  • The lyrics to the songs were all rewritten and performed anew. Grandpa Joe’s big number, “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket,” became a tune called “Tengo un billeto de oro.”
  • Charlie Bucket = Charlie Cubeta
  • Augustus Gloop = Augustus Gluton
  • Veruca Salt has a different name, too, but I couldn’t make it out. Also, I distinctly heard her introduce herself to Willy Wonka as Veronica Something, even though Wonka immediately uses Veruca when addressing her.

One thing that suffers in the translation is Willy Wonka himself. As far as I’m concerned, Gene Wilder is responsible for everything great about this movie, and removing his voice from the equation robs the film of some of that greatness.

However, there is one scene in the Spanish version that stands alone. It doesn’t surpass the original, but rather tears a whole in its reality and creates a new, terrifying universe unto itself.

I am speaking of the ultra-creepy boat scene. I will not attempt to capture exactly why this is so much more unsettling in Spanish. It defies explanation, and is something you need to experience. Think this scared the crap out of you before? That’s nothing compared to this. Once I saw it, my life was transformed, and now yours will be, too.