Top 10 Matilda Moments | The film magazine

Top 10 Matilda Moments |  The film magazine

No film genre gives us a genuine sense of nostalgia like children’s films. We may no longer believe in magic or plot revenge against our meanest teacher, but these movies take us back to a simpler time when our dreams were big and our problems were small.

From the mind of acclaimed British author Roald Dahl, “Matilda” is the story of an extraordinary girl who uses her intelligence and telekinetic abilities to punish cruel adults and find happiness for herself and her friends. The 1996 film of the same name, directed by Danny DeVito, joins the ranks of other favorite Dahl adaptations such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory And The BFG as a whimsical examination of the underrated power of children. Though Matilda box office flopgained a cult following and spawned a West End show and Netflix musical remake, revealing our enduring fascination with this tale of affluence underdogs.

In this Movie list from The film magazine, we will revisit some of the funniest, craziest and most inspiring scenes from the film. These are the Top 10 Matilda Moments.

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10. First day at Crunchem Hall

At six and a half, Matilda Wormwood (Mara Wilson) is more than ready to start school and is delighted when her parents finally send her to Crunchem Hall. However, on her first day, she witnesses the worst of principal Miss Trunchbull (Pam Ferris). The tyrannical principal marches on to another new girl, Amanda (Jacqueline Steiger), to admonish her for wearing her cornrows. When Amanda defends herself, Trunchbull grabs her by the pigtails and throws her over the schoolyard’s wrought-iron fence. This startling child abuse moment would be a horrific addition to this “best moments” list were it not for Amanda’s triumphant landing in a field of flowers as her classmates clap their support.

Early in the film, this scene demonstrates director Danny DeVito’s expressive style perfectly adapting Dahl’s outlandish diversions for the big screen. A variety of camera angles bring this moment to life as low angle shots and close-ups make Trunchbull appear powerful and menacing in contrast to Amanda’s small stature, oversized glasses and rosy overalls. The POV shots also bring us straight into the action with a sense of chaos and urgency as we see Amanda swing by her braids and narrowly miss the spikes of the fence. Through Stefan Czapsky’s intelligent and engaging cinematography, DeVito quickly builds the conflict between the autocratic principal and Matilda’s rebellious and supportive classmates.


9. “He’s a merman, Miss Trunchbull”

After Miss Trunchbull tosses Matilda into the crooked closet dubbed the “choker,” her best friend, Lavender (Kiami Davael), plots revenge by slipping a newt into the evil headmaster’s water jug. The children erupt in laughter as Trunchbull is repulsed by the creature in her drink. He blames Matilda and hurls insult after insult at the innocent girl. Suddenly, the glass of water tips over and the merman lunges at Trunchbull’s chest, sending the hideous woman into a silly dance and the class into more giggles.

This is an important moment in the film as it serves as one of the first instances of Matilda using her telekinetic abilities to defend herself and cause harm. A series of extreme shot/reverse shot close-ups create tension between Trunchbull’s menacing grimace and Matilda’s focused gaze. Trunchbull’s frantic move to get rid of the creature also showcases DeVito’s innate sense of humor, which runs throughout the film.

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