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Cast * Matilda Wormwood - Mara Wilson
Matilda is a 1996 film directed by Danny DeVito. It is based on Roald Dahl's children's novel
Right from birth, Matilda Wormwood different from the rest of her family. Even as a baby, she showed remarkable intelligence by writing her name in spinach she had spilled on the kitchen counter. Her parents and older brother, however, are shown to be incredibly cruel and morally-corrupt people: Her father, Harry, sells used cars for unfair prices while her mother, Zinnia, is unemployed and spends her days playing bingo. Matilda loves reading from an early age, which her father disapproves of, and he punishes her by sending her to her room simply for being smart. Matilda takes her revenge by pouring her father's hair oil down the sink, and replacing it with peroxide, turning his hair blonde. Later, she puts glue in his hat, so it sticks to his head.
Tags: Matilda Wormwood Mara Wilson
Added: 4 years ago
[six year old Matilda is left home alone by her parents, the Wormwoods]
NARRATOR: The next morning, after her parents left, Matilda set off in search of a book.
[she finds the phone book and looks up the public library ("1645 Pike Street, Children's Library 732-5227"), then the scene changes to Matilda walking all the way to the library - by herself - where she finds an elderly female librarian sitting at the front desk]
MATILDA: Where are the children's books, please?
MISS PHELPS: [points to her right] In that room right over there. Would you like me to pick you out one with lots of pictures in it?
MATILDA: No thank you. I'm sure I can manage.
[she walks off, leaving the librarian with a surprised look on her face, and sits down in the childrens' room where she begins reading]
NARRATOR: From then on, everyday as soon as her mother went to bingo, Matilda walked the ten blocks to the library ...
[cut to Matilda again walking across the street by herself, then inside the library where she's reading more books]
NARRATOR: And devoured one book after another.
[she starts laughing, which the librarian hears from the front desk, making her smile in bemusement]
NARRATOR: When she finished all the children's books, she started wandering around in search of something else.
[cut to Matilda piling up the books she's already read on the table in the childrens' room]
NARRATOR: Misses Phelps, who had been watching her with fascination for the past few weeks, offered Matilda some valuable library information.
[cut to Matilda and the librarian walking through the stacks together]
MISS PHELPS: You know, you can have your very own library card, and then you can take books home! And you wouldn't have to walk here everyday. You could take as many as you like!
MATILDA: That would be wonderful ...
[cut to Matilda pulling a large number of library books home in her little red wagon]
NARRATOR: So Matilda's strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world, like ships onto the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message ... You are not alone.
DeVito, Danny (Director). Matilda. United States: TriStar Pictures, 1996.
Starring: Jean Speegle Howard (Librarian, credited as Miss Phelps but called Mrs. Phelps, as she is in the book); Sara Magdalin/Mara Wilson (Matilda Wormwood, ages 4 and 6-1/2 respectively); Danny DeVito (Harry Wormwood, Father and Narrator); Rhea Perlman (Zinnia Wormwood, Mother)
Based on the Novel: Dahl, Roald. Matilda. London: Jonathan Cape, 1988.
The film Matilda would have benefited greatly by a closer association with Dahl's delightful book, and it's easy to see that the best parts and the best dialog are indeed the author's genius. Alas, that awful Home Alone mentality destroys the last half of this film, but fortunately for us the library scene is near the front and survives intact. Four year-old Matilda is truly gifted, and a self-taught reader. After reading every magazine in the house, she discovers the public library. Mrs. Phelps, Librarian, is white-haired but no bun or glasses, and she's kind and helpful, offering to find her a children's book with lots of pictures. Matilda prefers self-service, and thereafter she visits the library daily to "devour one book after another." She quickly reads through every one of the children's books and then moves on to adult books (she loves Dickens). When the librarian offers her "valuable library information" (how library cards work), Matilda's world opens up. Thereafter whenever she's home her nose is in a book, much to the consternation of her ignorant and offensive (not to mention abusive) parents whose evenings center around moronic game shows on the "telly." In a fit of pique her father rips a library book to shreds (in the film, Moby Dick, in the book Steinbeck's The Red Pony). There are no more library scenes, but plenty of books. Mrs. Phelps takes a personal interest in the child, and though her scenes are brief they are critical to showing Matilda's first encounter with a positive role model. Notable quote (just one among many): "There's nuttin' you can get from a book that you can't get from a television faster" (Mr. Wormwood). (Compare this film/book's librarian role with Neil Klugman's in Goodbye, Columbus. Don't they make you feel good?)