Photo: ‘Matilda the Musical’
Matilda has been a very popular children’s book as well as one of Roald Dahl‘s most recognizable works. The story focuses on a scholarly-gifted young girl with telekinetic powers who is treated poorly by her ignorant parents and attends a school that is controlled by an abusive headmistress. However, she finds solitude in her class due to the caring nature of her kind teacher, Miss Honey. Roald Dahl is also famous for writing stories such as ‘James and The Giant Peach’ and ‘The Witches.’ All these books by the same author actually have one big thing in common: they all earned a movie adaptation of their own during the 1990s. ‘James and the Giant Peach’ was directed by Henry Selick (‘Nightmare Before Christmas’). ‘The Witches’ has been made by Nicolas Roeg (‘Don’t Look Now’). Danny DeVito directed the first adaptation of ‘Matilda’ in 1996 and even performed as Matilda’s dysfunctional father and provided the voice of the narrator. Though the film did poorly at the box office, it became a sensation on reruns that aired on the Disney Channel.
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In the United Kingdom from November 2010 to January 2011, Dennis Kelly made a musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book. The adaptation had a twelve-week trial run which was staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The musical became a hit and also premiered on Broadway on April 11, 2013, at the Shubert Theatre. Matilda the Musical ran from 2013 to 2017. The musical even won four Tony Awards. Now Sony Pictures and Netflix have decided to collaborate by making another film adaptation that will be based on the musical version of Matilda’s story.
The Film’s Casting Choices and Last Minute Changes
The film has an interesting cast that will make fans delighted to see the musical adaptation. Alisha Weir plays Matilda Wormwood. Lashana Lynch (from ‘No Time To Die’) stars as Ms. Jennifer Honey, the sympathetic teacher. Emma Thompson (from ‘Sense and Sensibility’) plays the terrifying headmistress Miss Agatha Trunchbull. An interesting possibility is that at one point, the producers had Anne Hathaway in mind to play Miss Trunchbull. Some of the fans would appreciate that considering that Anne had played The Grand High Witch, the main villain of the newest adaptation of ‘The Witches’ which was released on HBO Max. But Hathaway turned it down. Mara Wilson, who played the protagonist in Danny DeVito’s adaptation, also turned down a cameo role because she didn’t want to take an airplane trip all the way to England just for one day of filming. Despite some of the changes, this doesn’t ruin the latest take on Matilda at all.
‘Matilda the Musical’- The Film’s Merits
The musical adaptation of the film has a lot of merits to look forward to. It is directed by Matthew Warchus, the director of the musical. The script is also written by Dennis Kelly, the playwright of the musical and who wrote the book, “Matilda The Musical.” The music and lyrics are provided by the original songwriter and composer Tim Minchin. Most people will find Emma Thompson to be an interesting Miss Trunchbull. She wears prosthetics which makes her look menacing to the other students at the school she runs. The prosthetics didn’t really feel distracting at all since her performance was very convincing. Cinephiles will be reminded of Thompson’s past role as ‘Nanny McPhee’ since it is another past role in which she wears some prosthetics in her face. Some might have some complaints about it while others will enjoy it as a reminder of Emma Thompson’s past role. The entire cast does an amazing job singing throughout the film. It doesn’t feel bland or generic because they carry the film from scene to scene and begot become an entertaining way of telling the story. The director had done a good job by still keeping with the spirit of the stage musical.
The Importance of Matilda’s Story
Matilda Wormwood’s story isn’t one that will be easily forgotten. The story is famous for having humor, drama, and a good message about the importance of using literature as an escape from the harsh realities of one’s life. In this day and age, watching mindless television and getting by in life by making money-making scams is a very common reality in most households. Matilda’s character reminds not just children, but adults as well to rise to the occasion. There may be some harsh bullying in the story, but Matilda uses her powers for good. She has been aided by Miss Honey, which reminds its audience that we get a little bit of help from benevolent adults who will resort to solutions that aren’t as harsh as Miss Trunchbull’s antics. Matilda teaches her audiences to stand up for what is right and not to lose one’s self through the injustices of irresponsible and ignorant adults. Matilda will always set a good example of owning up to one’s independence and being kind to others which will put an end to bullying.
By Marco Castaneda
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