There’s always a mix of joy and frustration in revisiting old classics or old favorites for this column, but the proportions of the two tend to vary from topic to topic. This week I sat down with an old Roald Dahl book I haven’t cracked since probably grade school, and found that, while it’s overall sweet and somewhat empowering, it had several elements that left me rolling my eyes. This book is, of course, The BFG.
It’s not often that a childhood favorite movie or book holds up to the test of time and remains as enjoyable when you’re twenty-eight as when you were eight. For today’s throwback, I want to talk about a movie which I loved as a child for several reasons and which I also love as an adult, although some of the reasons are different now. The movie is Matilda, based on the book of the same name by Roald Dahl. As a little girl, I loved Matilda and her superpowers, and now I love Miss Honey and the themes of found family based on mutual love and support.
Spoilers for the movie after the jump.
It’s been years since I last read a Roald Dahl book, but when the time came to pick a throwback topic for this week, I found myself drawn to that bit of my bookshelves. And with the official start of Fall just past, it seemed only right to get in the spoopy spirit and revisit The Witches.
Broadway’s latest London import is the musical version of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, and I have to say I am really excited for it. I’ve never read Matilda but I always loved the movie. Athough I know this is based on the novel, it doesn’t seem radically different from the film, which follows a young girl named Matilda who has emotionally abusive parents and attends a school with an emotionally and physically abusive headmistress known as The Trunchbull. Through this adversity Matilda develops telekinetic powers which she uses to fight back against her tormentors.
Broadway.com has begun a video series about the making of the show and in the first episode the librettist pretty much outlines what I find so appealing about the show:
This idea that children don’t necessarily know more than adults, but have stronger convictions to what they believe is right and wrong is so true and so important. It’s easy to see this story as a bunch of bratty kids throwing a tantrum, or as a cliched “Bless the poor children” tale of under-appreciated youth, but instead the creative team seems to be coming at this story from the point of view of the children themselves. Doing this helps the work to feel more honest because so often when kids are written by adults they are written the way adults view childhood and usually come out exceedingly cute, bratty, intelligent, or ignorant. It’s hard to find writers who really capture that childhood isn’t so innocent and sweet or cruel and spoiled as adults remember.
I’m currently obsessed with the song “Revolting Children” which really captures this theme well:
I find the song clever in its use of the word “revolting” which The Trunchbull always uses to describe the children at her school by taking it from the adjective meaning “disgusting” and using it instead as the verb as in “being in the state of revolt” while the kids decide to stand up to their headmistress. The kids aren’t having a fit or simply complaining; they’re empowering themselves and taking back their dignity from someone who mistreated them.
Never again will I be bullied!
Never again will I doubt it when
my mummy says I’m a miracle!
I find these lyrics beautiful and powerful because no one should be bullied or doubt that they have intrinsic worth and dignity. If the rest of the show supports this theme as well as this one number does I have a feeling it will quickly become one of my favorites.
The Broadway production is currently in previews with an opening date set for April 11 and tickets are starting as low as $37! If you’re in the city I’d say it’s probably worth a try for such a low price because barring lotto/student rush, you’re not usually going to find tickets that cheap for any show, especially one with the kind of name recognition this one carries. If I get a chance to see it I’ll certainly post a review here with a more informed opinion but right now I’m loving what I’ve seen thus far.