From about the age of three when Matilda was on TV every 2 months, my Mum attempted to sit me down and watch the film adaptation of Road Dahl’s Matilda with me. I got to the part where Miss Trunchbull walked up to the house were Matilda was hiding before running upstairs, unable to bring myself to watch the poor child get beaten by the cruel woman.
Being a child of a nervous disposition, scary or tense moments were a big no for me. My mum finally decided that for me, it might be better to attempt to read the book before I watched the film again.
Matilda was definitely the first of Dahl’s book that I was entirely immersed in. It took familiar childhood memories; school, family life, libraries, and turned them on their head. The family unit was seen as unsafe and unsavoury, the library portrayed as some relief, and school as a place where children were not safe from a tyrannical teacher.
Dahl’s writing is magical. His narration is often nonsensical, but full of life, making each character realistic, failing that, hilarious. I struggle to think of a children’s author as much loved or as creative as Dahl, with his works becoming iconic throughout the world. I loved Matilda, the bookish, skinny girl, who was bullied by her family for being intelligent. Part of me certainly related to her character, and to me she is still a very good role model for young girls.
But back to the film. After reading the book, I finally sat through the entire film and it wasn’t as tortuous as I was expecting. I was somewhat relieved by the (SPOILER ALERT) happy ending. Knowing that good people could get the happy ending they deserved helped six year old me sleep at night.