Just a few months after yours truly entered the world for the first time, these little things burst onto the cinema screen in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It was a few years later, of course, before I finally got to see it, but I always thought it was super cool that the main little boy in the movie shared my name. It was the Oompa-Loompas that I remembered most from the movie because of just how bizarre they were. I have no idea why they popped into my head or why I thought to doodlewash one, but that’s where we landed today.

Basically, for anyone who’s unfamiliar with the story, five lucky kids get to enter an elusive and eccentric chocolate-makers factory having procured golden tickets. Each time one misbehaves they are met with some unfortunate fate and the Oompa-Loompas come to remove them from the scene while singing ominous moralizing songs about their misdeeds. They were knee-high, and they were orange, and they were absolutely terrifying. I remember thinking if I didn’t complete my homework they might show up, popping their heads in my window and start singing their insidiously catchy songs.

The movie was based on a book by Roald Dahl who is my all-time favorite author of children’s books. His stories were super dark and didn’t talk down to kids and I loved them for that. His original Oompa-Loompas (called Whipple-Scrumpets before publication) started out as African pygmies until he rewrote them to be white-skinned and blonde. The movie version opted for a more colorful version with orange skin and green hair. In the book there were whole families of Oompa-Loompas with the men wearing skins, women wearing leaves, and children simply running around naked. This was, thankfully, also changed for the movie version.

The movie was creepy, but also one of my favorites as a kid. Willy Wonka, played by Gene Wilder, was a fascinatingly odd and wonderfully crazy character (as played by Johnny Depp years later he was just a creepy pervert). The original movie contained a song called “Cheer Up Charlie” and this soon became something my family members would repeat to me, much to my dismay, whenever I got grumpy. Slightly better than having the other kids at school constantly say,  “Sorry Charlie” thanks to those darn Starkist Tuna commercials.

But I loved the book much more than the movie. In fact, I preferred books to movies when I was a kid. Still do actually. There’s just something more fun about being able to imagine something for myself rather than having someone else show me what they think it should look like. Now, it’s really hard to get this version of an Oompa-Loompa out of my brain. These orange little guys have been burned into my head since childhood, thanks to that small screen in my living room. Perhaps that’s why Roald Dahl had his Oompa-Loompas making this plea to kids everywhere:

“Oh, books, what books they used to know, Those children living long ago! So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall.”

Roald Dahl, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Burnt Sienna, Permanent Green Pale, Azo Orange, Azo Green, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Pyrrol Red, and Neutral Tint. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink and second pen with Platinum Carbon sepia ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal

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47 thoughts on “Oompa-Loompas

  1. What a wonderful doodlewash! I only saw this movie as an adult. I thought this was another movie perhaps made for children but has plenty of thought-provoking themes for adults. My kids loved the Oompa-Loompa song and sang it so many times.. I have to check out the book as I never read it.

  2. fantastic~ loved him too! great painting Charlie 🙂 just got back from making up 20+ stories for a 2yr old all about “Oompa and Oomha” so its funny to see this, this morning! love it cheers, Debi

  3. Charlie, you are a gem, nostalgia King! Now I will be singing that song until I go to bed…. At least bed time is soon! Otherwise the dog will get earache. Love it. Did they ever make a film about the magic finger? I loved revolting rhymes….’ She pulled a pistol from her knickers’ and not forgetting her pig skin bag! What a man Mr Dahl was.

  4. I loved the imagination that went into that movie! Didn’t one child blow up into a giant gum ball with legs and they had to roll her out? I like your doodlewash Charlie! 💖💕 It brings back wonderful memories! I don’t think I read the book however so might have to do that someday! Thanks for the smile, friend! 😍👍🌈

  5. Oh how wonderful! Dare I admit I often say “Sorry Charlie” to my charlie! LOL! I sometimes call him “Charles in Charge” too – remember that – oh how I digress! AMAZING OOMPA LOOMPA and a fun nostalgic read. Love Roald Dahl – James and the Giant Peach – a fave. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much Sharon! 💕😃 I remember this movie being on television a lot when I was a kid, but actually it’s been years since I’ve watched it. 😊 I did look at a clip of the Oompa Loompas singing for this post and I’m still humming that damn song. I fear they are going to haunt my dreams tonight. Lol

  6. Ah one of my all time favorite books as well. I think this book got me started reading nonstop and I have never looked back. Fun painting…and funny backstory Charlie! Such a great post! I prefer the book to the movie, it all looked much different in my head.

  7. Charlie! That is absolutely sensational!! So sweetly done. This film is one of my biggest guilty pleasures – I love it so much, mainly because Gene Wilder is hilarious (far superior to Depp), but there are too many moments throughout that make me chuckle. Those Oompa-Loompas and their hypnotic chants used to unsettle me when I was little! But of course now they’re just hilarious too 😉 Ditto that boat scene (they are powerful rowers!) “The danger must be growing for the rowers keep on rowing…!!!”

  8. Charlie you’ve made my day with your Oompa Loompa! This was was my favourite childhood film (I think you and I share the same birth year 🙂 ). I have a nephew called Charlie and I’m always singing “Cheer Up Charlie” to him, maybe I need to tone it down a bit!

  9. I absolutely love this drawing. You nailed it. I loved this movie as a kid as well and I still love it. It’s just so magical. It’s one of those films that just has staying power. I just started writing a serial fan-fiction set in Willy Wonka’s factory. I was checking out images of Oompa Loompas to get inspired and came across yours. I’d love it if you’d check it out and let me know what you think. https://josiahrosenbergerauthor.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/death-by-chocolate-a-willy-wonka-and-the-chocolate-factory-retelling-the-boiler-room-part-1/

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