Matilda (1996 film)

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Matilda
Matildaposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDanny DeVito
Produced byDanny DeVito
Michael Shamberg
Stacey Sher
Liccy Dahl
Screenplay byNicholas Kazan
Robin Swicord
Based onMatilda 
by Roald Dahl
Narrated byDanny DeVito
StarringMara Wilson
Danny DeVito
Rhea Perlman
Embeth Davidtz
Pam Ferris
Music byDavid Newman
CinematographyStefan Czapsky
Editing byLynzee Klingman
Brent White
StudioJersey Films
Distributed byTriStar Pictures
Release dates
  • August 2, 1996 (1996-08-02)
Running time98 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$36 million[2][3]
Box office$33,459,416[3]
 
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Matilda
Matildaposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDanny DeVito
Produced byDanny DeVito
Michael Shamberg
Stacey Sher
Liccy Dahl
Screenplay byNicholas Kazan
Robin Swicord
Based onMatilda 
by Roald Dahl
Narrated byDanny DeVito
StarringMara Wilson
Danny DeVito
Rhea Perlman
Embeth Davidtz
Pam Ferris
Music byDavid Newman
CinematographyStefan Czapsky
Editing byLynzee Klingman
Brent White
StudioJersey Films
Distributed byTriStar Pictures
Release dates
  • August 2, 1996 (1996-08-02)
Running time98 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$36 million[2][3]
Box office$33,459,416[3]

Matilda is a 1996 American fantasy-comedy film directed by Danny DeVito. The screenplay by Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord is based on Roald Dahl's novel of the same name. The film was released by TriStar Pictures on August 2, 1996 and stars DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Embeth Davidtz, Pam Ferris, and Mara Wilson.

Plot[edit]

Matilda Wormwood is an intelligent girl with a bright personality, but her parents, Harry and Zinnia, neglect and mistreat her. When Matilda reaches four, she discovers the local library and walks there every day to read while her parents are at work and her older brother, Michael, is at school.

By age six, Matilda begins to lose patience with her parents. In retaliation for her father's teasing, she mixes his hair tonic with her mother's hair dye. Harry takes his family to his workshop, where he reveals that the cars he sells are faulty. Matilda accuses him of being dishonest and he belittles her, so she retaliates by putting super-glue in his hat, forcing Zinnia to cut it off. Harry belittles Matilda for reading while her family is watching television. When Harry tries to force her to watch with them, Matilda grows increasingly angry and the television suddenly explodes.

Agatha Trunchbull is the headmistress of a run-down school, Crunchem Hall. Harry enrolls Matilda in it, where she befriends several children and learns of Miss Trunchbull's nature and her harsh punishments of the students. Matilda's teacher, Miss Jennifer Honey, is a kind woman who adores her pupils and takes an immediate liking to Matilda. Miss Honey speaks with Miss Trunchbull and requests that Matilda be moved up to a higher class. Miss Honey pays Matilda's parents a visit and requests that they pay more attention to her, but they refuse to listen. Meanwhile, Matilda discovers that her family is under FBI surveillance because of her father's shady dealings, but her parents refuse to believe her.

Sometime later, Miss Trunchbull goes to Miss Honey's class for a weekly "check-up" and starts to belittle the students. As a prank, a student places a newt in Miss Trunchbull's water jug to frighten her. She accuses Matilda, whose anger at the injustice leads to her telekinetically tipping the glass over, splashing water on Miss Trunchbull. Miss Honey invites Matilda to her house for tea. On the way, they pass Miss Trunchbull's house, and Miss Honey reveals her secret: when she was two years old, her mother died, so her father invited his wife's stepsister, Miss Trunchbull, to live with them and look after Miss Honey while he was at work. However, Miss Trunchbull mistreated and abused her niece at every opportunity. When Miss Honey was five, her father died of an apparent suicide and left all of his assets to Miss Trunchbull. Eventually, Miss Honey moved out of her aunt's house and into a small cottage. Matilda and Miss Honey briefly sneak into Miss Trunchbull's house while she is out, but her unexpected return leads to a cat-and-mouse chase with Matilda and Miss Honey only barely escaping.

When Matilda's telekinetic powers manifest again during an argument, she trains herself to use her ability at her own will. Matilda returns to Miss Trunchbull's house, wreaking havoc in an attempt to scare her away. She almost flees, but she finds Matilda's ribbon and realizes that she was there. The next day, Miss Trunchbull visits Miss Honey's class again to get Matilda to admit her guilt. She uses her powers to write a message on the blackboard, posing as the ghost of Miss Honey's father and accusing Miss Trunchbull of murdering him. Miss Trunchbull attacks the students, but Matilda keeps them out of harm's way with her powers and the students force Miss Trunchbull out of the school by pelting her with food and garbage. Miss Honey's father's true will is discovered by the police, which named Miss Honey as the sole beneficiary, so she moves back into her house, and Matilda is a frequent visitor.

The FBI finally uncovers enough evidence to prosecute Harry, and he and his family prepare to flee. They stop by Miss Honey's house to pick up Matilda, but she refuses to go with them. Harry and Zinnia say that Matilda is their only daughter but they have never understood her, and decide to let Miss Honey adopt her. The Wormwoods escape, while Matilda lives a happy life with Miss Honey.

Cast[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Wins
Nominations

Music[edit]

Two songs are featured in the film. One of them, "Send Me on My Way" by Rusted Root, is played twice: when the four-year-old Matilda is left alone at her house, making pancakes, and at the end of the film, set to a montage of Matilda and Miss Honey playing at Miss Trunchbull's former house. The other song is Thurston Harris's "Little Bitty Pretty One", played when Matilda is learning to control her psychokinetic powers.

The film's score was composed by David Newman.

Reception[edit]

Matilda received critical acclaim at the time of its release. On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a "fresh" rating of 90%.[4] In the United States, the film earned $33 million in contrast to its $36 million budget.[3][2] It fared better during its worldwide release and ended up earning back nearly double its original budget. The film has continued to be a cult classic since its release.

References[edit]

External links[edit]