I’ve seen the movie multiple times (had even gone to school with Matilda’s little friend in the movie, Lavender.) Out of all this time, I postponed getting around to reading the book which I’ve decided to remedy. It starts off only slightly differently from the film, which is appreciated. It introduces the Wormwood’s and how they “value” their children. I do have to say, once getting to the library with Matilda we fall back into familiar territory, until of course Dahl reveals Matilda’s reading list at the age of FOUR! A little downside is Matilda’s father being skinny what with my being used to thinking of him as Danny Devito. It’s still quite funny and I’m quite pleased with the differences however so slight they may be so far. Matilda has more mischievous fun in the book as opposed to the movie, which I liked. There is a wonderful line in regards to the father’s accidental hair-dye job, as well which was bloody hilarious and should’ve been added to the dialogue of the movie.
Miss Trunchbull’s description was spot on and Miss Honey, as well, if not the actress being a bit older than described in the book, she pulled the character off well. Also the original character of Miss Trunchbull may have had a darker beginning than being led to believe, since this book is for children, it can’t be expected to learn about a possible early “de-flowering”. Otherwise, the adaptation stays fairly close to the original, but continues with a fresh (possibly since I haven’t seen the movie recently) and entertaining way Dahl has of describing his lovely (and otherwise) creations. I’m also starting to prefer the book over the movie, only because of how the characters are represented in a slightly different light and knowing everyone speaking should have a British accent is making me wonder when or if we can ever look forward to a U.K. Matilda film. I’d be intrigued since I still like the American version, but it may have been “dumb-ed” down to cater to what we believe is humorous to children on a basic level.
Little big Brucie’s experience is also changed into something less dramatic as the film. It’s still fun, but the support for him is a little different and mysterious. It ends a bit on the missed opportunity side for Dahl with the joke they added for the kids in the film after Trunchbull loses her temper. She’s also represented as more capable of holding herself back when she wants to (however small a way it is), which is the main difference from the movie character who’s portrayal was much more of a brute who throws children everywhere of all ages, which she may have done, but only for the flares of temper which have no chance of being held back. Trunchbull’s experience with the newt wasn’t utilized for its comedy as much as it was in the film, but a closer inspection of Matilda’s power is given; After the incident, it should have been more known in the film the kids getting to hang out in the playground for the rest of the day due to the high stress situation was put upon them. Which then leads into a key moment in the movie when Matilda fails to tip the glass over a second time, which was inexplicably changed since the opposite happened in the book. Miss Honey is also much more poor than the film lets on or can allow in some cases since in the book, Miss Honey doesn’t even have running water but uses a well.
Although now I think I understand why whomever may have changed the order of events in the film since if Matilda had to wait to show Miss Honey her ability, the talk in her cottage would have taken a different route as well; apparently Miss Honey had an innocent ulterior motive. The film does give the story much more drama for certain. It also took the liberty of giving Miss Honey her nickname from her father. Also when Matilda begins practicing her power, the original item used would definitely have been frowned upon if considered “kid friendly”, so at least it was a bit more entertaining to see how they did it in the film. A more distinct idea how long it takes Matilda to perfect her power is mentioned and another big difference is Matilda’s dazed reaction when using this power. It lessens in the film I suppose to keep the character free to interact and stay present with what happens whilst she’s “trouble-making”. However it doesn’t add the bonus of other teachers reactions to the Trunchbull’s surprising condition when found after Matilda’s joke.
The specific message Matilda writes on the chalkboard the movie provided is also left out, but it doesn’t affect the positive outcome or flow of the story. An afterwards of sorts which fills in what the message did to Trunchbull though is provided: scaring her so much, she packs her belongings and bolts, but also allows the will of Miss Honey’s father to be found somehow and of course then having her rightful inheritance returned to her. Also, instead of Matilda keeping her wonderful gift, Miss Honey comes up with the explanation which, now Matilda has moved up in class and being challenged properly, she no longer needs or has the attention to use the power anymore; regardless though, Matilda didn’t miss having it. She also is side-struck by her parents swift packing as she comes home from a late visit with Miss Honey to discover they’re moving, so she runs to Miss Honey to give her the news. They both go back to ask the parents for permission to allow Matilda to stay with Miss Honey, they hastily agree and see them race off into the sunset with Mike in the back, Matilda and Miss Honey hugging it out in the drive. An acceptable version, I now understand why the film was updated for the out-of-date way they went about some legalities, like adoption papers, but it was a great, quick, fun read and I’m glad I finally got around to it. To read my review of, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More.