Saturday, August 2, 2014

7 Reasons to Love Matilda

Matilda Wormwood is a brilliant kindergartener who had the misfortune to be born to the world's worst parents. Her genius goes unrecognized by everyone but Miss Honey, her teacher, the only decent adult in the show. Miss Honey was raised by her aunt, Miss Trunchbull, the physically and emotionally abusive headmistress of Matilda's school.
Since Matilda isn't being challenged in class, her brainpower spills over and gives her telekinetic abilities. She uses her powers to lead her school in a revolt, get rid of the Trunchbull, and help Miss Honey find her inner strength.
What started out in 1988 as a book by beloved children's author Roald Dahl has now given rise to a movie (1996) and, this last year, a Broadway musical. Here's seven reasons you should love Matilda.
1. It's amazingly faithful to the book. 
Seriously. You like to think that book adaptations only exist to give the fans something to complain about, don't you?
Matilda manages to pack in absolutely everything of significance from Roald Dahl's 240 page book without every feeling crowded. If anything, the story is embellished. The Chokey-Miss Trunchbull's closet that is only mentioned in the book but nonetheless managed to terrify me as a child-gets a whole song.
2. Actual child actors play child characters. If you've followed me for a while, you know I feel about aging up characters when a book becomes a show. I understand that it's necessary a lot of the time because of child labor laws. Especially with plays. A movie you can film and have it all done. But plays show night after night, and kids have to go to school.
Still, it's crushing to know that one of the only corners of the universe-the entertainment industry-that cares for children is dominated by older people. Matilda gives children a chance to tell a child's story.
3. Matilda's goofball parents.
Oh, Wormwoods.

 Dahl had a thing  against television. He ever wrote a poem about it. 
4. Kid Power!
Miss Honey is sympathetic, yes, but years of abuse have left her incapable of standing up for herself. Luckily, her students are here to help. This is their story and nobody else is going to put it right for them.

5. The Trunchbull. No one makes gruesome, child hating villains like Roald Dahl. Not every child has been locked in a spike-lined closet or chucked across the room by the pigtails. But we've all had moments where we feel small and incompetent. Worms in a world of butterflies.
G. K. Chesterson famously said, "Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten." That's what Matilda is to me-a story of a girl who can slay a dragon. Children need stories like this. Not because we're all capable of being our own heroes, but because we need to know that someone can.

6. The message. 
So often, children's stories are about growing up. To save the day, to learn the lesson, you need to mature. You need to be less of a child than you were at the beginning before you can rightly be called a hero. That's not the case here. Matilda retains her childish spunk and idealism throughout the course of the story. She's little, and she's not about to "let a little thing like little" stop her. Matilda reminds us that children deserve love and respect from adults-but we're not small and pathetic without it.

7. Last but not least, this clever song.
They're singing the alphabet, but you won't catch it if you don't watch the lyrics.                                                                    

No comments:

Post a Comment