Movie and Book Differences

1996 Film Directed by Danny DeVito

Matilda (trailer)

1988 Book Written by Roald Dahl

Little Matilda lives anything but an ordinary life with her two parents and brother. She grows in her love for books by spending hours at the library and learns the truth about Principal Trunchbull when she enters public school. Struggling between this evil principal and her more than troubling home life, Matilda and her teacher Miss Honey grow a close friendhsip and must discover how they can save her and the other students.

Differences Between the Book and the Movie

Matilda's Powers

In both the novel and the film Matilda discovers she has a special set of powers. However, in the novel Matilda loses her ability to use them whereas in the film she still can. This is significant to the story because her powers are a major part of her escape from her home life and Miss. Trunchbull. Seeing as how she no longer has the ability to use them in the novel, it can be understood that she has grown out of them. The movie's ending is more fit for a fairytale and gives the audience a sense that everything will continue to workout for Matilda.

Matilda in the Chokey

Every student at Crunchem Hall trembles at the word chokey. Miss Trunchbull, in both the movie and the novel, is famous for sending kids to the chokey, a hole in the wall with nails and glass used as a time out spot for all of the naughty children. A scene in film has Matilda being sent to this horrid place while the book never does. This is significant because her timeout in the movie emphasizes how determined Matilda was to stand up to Miss Trunchbull.

Mr. Wormwood's Business

Matilda's father is the owner of an illegal car shop. In the movie he is seen dealing a lot of business with this car shop, even to the point where Matilda starts to notice the feds watching him. However, in the novel, his business is hardly mentioned until the very end. I believe the presence of his business throughout the movie has signifigance because it shows the cheater her father is and the lack of leadership he is capable of teaching her. It allows the audience to better understand the harmful relationship Matilda has with her father.

A Mother's Love (Or Lack There of)

Like her father, Matilda's mother hardly ever shows much love or care for her. In fact, in the novel, her parents give her away to Miss Honey without much thought and very little hesitation. However, in the movie, Matilda's mother finally shows some compassion for Matilda when she asks to live with Miss Honey from then on. I think this has a major impact on the story because the novel writes off the Wormwood's as awful, unloving parents, whereas the novel gives the audience some hope for humanity.

Gifts Given to Miss Honey

In the film, Miss Honey and Matilda end up living happily ever after together. Same seat in class, same job as a teacher. However, in the novel, after Miss Trunchbull is discovered Miss Honey takes the position of Crunchem's new principal. Although it may seem like a small difference that does not matter much because it is so close to the end of story, I believe this has significance because the producer's of the movie wanted to focus on Matilda's future with Miss Honey, not necessarily her new career path.