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"Matilda" And The Obsessive Culture Of Remakes

Netflix is in charge of a "Matilda" remake. We tell you everything you need to know about this new version and why this phenomenon is still in force.

Still from the 2022 film 'Matilda'

Photo: YT-Netflix

LatinAmerican Post | Theoscar Mogollón González

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Leer en español: Remake de "Matilda" y la obsesiva cultura de las nuevas versiones en el cine

It was the year 1996 when many of us enjoyed our childhood watching a movie that eventually became a classic of cinema: "Matilda". Now, more than two decades later, Netflix has opted for nostalgia and will bring us a new version that promises to make more than one dance and sing, since this remake will have a very Broadway-style musical format. Will it be able to reap the same success as its predecessor?

Many already know what this film adaptation of the novel written by Roald Dahl is about. Matilda is a super intelligent girl with an extraordinary imagination that, in turn, she uses as tools to change her destiny. In addition to that, it is worth noting that behind her story we find a young woman who, despite her young age, is capable of overcoming the different adversities in her life, hand in hand with her friends who support her so that she masters that special gift. .

The 1996 adaptation directed by Danny DeVito was the one that ended up promoting the British novel, published in 1988, which had great international recognition. However, the actor's film was not completely attached to the story written by Dahl, since he ended up adding other iconic elements. 

Likewise, the director of this version, Matthew Warchus, was in charge of adapting it to musical theater in 2010 together with Dennis Kelly, achieving a sweeping success in London and other cities around the world. Both will bring that same musical to the streaming platform and for this they put together an interesting cast where Emma Thompson stands out, playing the teacher Tronchatoro; Lashana Lynch, playing Miss Honey; Alisha Weir, inheriting the role of Matilda; as well as Stephen Graham and Andrea Riseborough, as Matilda's parents. So far, Netflix has not given an exact date for its premiere, only that it will arrive in December.

A culture that continues in the cinema

Remakes are not something new in the film industry, especially in the US. If we make a timeline, in the 70's a golden era began with brilliant and original movies that extended to the 80's and 90's, where some sequels and adaptations of literary works also slipped in. Starting in the 2000s, that wave of remakes began on the big screen, some wonderful and others not so great, which in the end had the objective of bringing the public to the cinemas en masse.

However, this culture has only made us question the direction cinema is taking today. Why do the big studios bet on redoing a story that has already been told? It could be assumed in part that there is a lack of creativity in the producers (although not entirely), who believe that by dusting off a landmark classic and changing the actors they will conquer the box office again. In addition, although nostalgia also plays a determining role here, it is worth mentioning that what once worked may not work again later.

On the other hand, two interesting points should also be noted regarding the number of remakes in recent years. The first goes hand in hand with the commercial, since there are films that are made solely to sell and satisfy the interests of the public, a strategy that Disney is applying with its live action. While the second focuses on the practice of taking a foreign film and remaking it with some differences, something that has been seen with "Cuarentena" (adaptation of the Spanish film "REC" ) or "CODA" (from the French "La Familia Belier" ).

Also read: 40 Years Of E.T: What To See If It Changed Your Life?

"Matilda": A guaranteed success?

No remake is guaranteed success (or failure). Depending on how you see it, the adaptation can equal or even surpass the original, but always running the risk of ending up disappointing the public and becoming a sad memory of cinema. Consequently, the version that Netflix will bring of "Matilda" has already raised voices on both sides, leaving many with the hope of reviving a true classic and others with the fear of seeing how a beautiful childhood memory is ruined.

An example of the heads and tails of the remakes can be seen with other films from this same 2022. For example, "Cheaper by the Dozen" , starring Zach Braff, is the second remake of the 1950 film and later popularized by Steve Martin in 2003, which received negative reviews for its lack of character development and for being a comedy without energy. 

In short, for a remake to be successful, elements must be used in the production that make it more impressive and with a characteristic touch never seen before. Cases like " IT" (2017) and "Dune" (2021) give the idea that it is possible to surpass its predecessors, as long as there is respect for the originality of the work in question. Therefore, "Matilda" is aimed at giving it that modern touch, in the form of a musical, attached to Dahl's novel and with nods to the 90's film. Will it be enough to move us all?