‘School for Good & Evil’ Film Misses the Mark


Photo by Bridget Cording

The School For Good And Evil is a very popular book series by Soman Chainani. It has sold over 3.5 million copies and has been translated into 31 different languages. The book follows the story of two best friends, Sophie and Agatha. Living in Gavaldon, their hometown, Sophie wants nothing more than to leave, while Agatha just wants to stay there forever. 


This popular book had been made into a movie directed by Paul Feig. As wonderful as the book originally was, many fans believe that the movie was less than to be desired. Many scenes were taken out, and many characters from the first and second book were combined. 


According to Katherine Cording, my older sister and a fan since the book was first published, the film failed to capture the essence of the book.


“They had a two-hour time restraint, so it makes sense that they would cut or combine certain scenes or characters. But the characters they combined and the scenes they took away hindered the movie rather than help[ed] it.”.” 


Regardless, here are some of the most notable aspects of both the book and the movie.


Gavaldon (Woods Beyond):The town Agatha and Sophie grew up in. 

Every “reader” of The School for Good and Evil are from “the Woods Beyond,” known as Gavaldon to its inhabitants. In the first book, you learn that every four years, two children are kidnapped from Gavaldon, one who is the best of good, the other who is the best of evil. The town didn’t understand what was happening until the first time the children were taken, when books appeared—fairy tale stories with their children in them. On the books were the letters S.G.E., School for Good and Evil. This led the town to call the shadow that took the children the School Master. However, in the movie no one in the town even knew the School Master existed. In fact, children did not get taken every four years. Sophie had to go to a wishing tree to wish to go to the School for Good, which she didn’t even think existed. This change removed  a key plot point.


Lady ‘Leonora’ Lesso:

Lady Lesso is the Dean and a teacher at the School for Evil. In the movie, Lesso was combined with Professor Evelyn Sader, a character in the second book and the Dean for the School For Girls. Her goal in the book was to help her lover, the School Master, return to life. However, she needed Sophie to be able to do this. In the movie, Lady Lesso was the epitome of Evelyn. In the scenes that Lesso was in, she was talking to Sophie about Rafal, the school master, and trying to convince Sophie to find him. In the book however, Lady Lesso despised the school master and even helped in the war to take him down forever. Another inconsistency to point out is that in the book, you only discover that Rafal is the School Master in book two, while in the movie everyone openly discusses this like it is common knowledge. Lady Lesso was an important character in the book that displayed boldness and intimidation, yet secretly was quite fond of Sophie and cared for her. In the movie, however, she was cold hearted and displayed no patience for Sophie.


Agatha and The School:

Agatha hates the school; she hated even the thought of the school. The entire book is centered around how much Agatha hates being at the school and how she just wants to go home with Sophie. However, the movie just barely covers this point. There was not one time when Agatha truly showed how much she was disgusted by the school. She even seemed to be okay with it at points. In the book, her negative relationship with the school overall drives the entire plot. Agatha just wants to return to her hometown and this is why she pushes Sophie into getting Tedros to fall in love with her. Sophie wants a fairytale ending while Agatha simply wants to go home.  


Agatha and Tedros:

Agatha and Tedros hate each other. Their amount of hatred cannot be measured. In fact, there is even one scene in the book where Tedros and his friends make a doll version of Agatha and brutally kill it. So it was an utter disappointment when you see that Agatha and Tedros do not actually hate each other in the film. They seem to tolerate each other. The fact that in the book Agatha finds herself repulsed at the idea of even looking at Tedros, makes their relationship in the movie seem even worse. Their whole relationship was built on enemies to lovers. But this was not portrayed in the movie. 


Trial By Tale:

A tradition at the School for Good and Evil that has lasted centuries, the “Trial by Tail” is a competition between the top ten Evers and top ten Nevers in the Blue Forest. Inside the forest both sides are subject to obstacles laid in the forest. Nevers can attack the Evers while Evers can defend themselves. Every competitor is given a handkerchief that they can throw on the ground if they feel unsafe. The last competitor(s) standing at sunrise is named the winner(s). In the book, this scene is one of the most important, for it shows Tedros how all year long Sophie has been lying to him by cheating in classes, and how Agatha (who helped Sophie with passing her classes) is really the one he has been falling in love with. However, in the movie the entire purpose of this trial is thrown out the window. In the movie this trial was used to test Sophie and Tedros love and to see if they truly did love one another. It was truly heartbreaking to see a scene so important in the book truly dispatched in the movie. 


Circus Of Talents: 

Another tradition at the School for Good and Evil that have lasted centuries, the Circus of Talents takes place after the Trial by Tale. Like the Trial by Tale, the top ten Never and top ten Evers compete, though this competition is just a talent show. Whoever has the best talent at the end wins the Circus Crown and their respective school gets to host the Circus of Talents at their school the next year. In the book, the Circus of Talents is the first time we truly see how much of a princess Agatha really is. She relays the truth about how if you fail you transform into a creature, and work for the other school as security— a fairy if you’re from the School for Evil, and a wolf if you’re from the School for Good. This is also the scene when Tedros asks Agatha to the Snow Ball, a dance right after the circus, showing his love for her for the first time. But nothing happens the way it’s supposed to, for Sophie breaks in and kills all the wolves and fairies with a single sung high note, effectively winning the crown. After winning the crown Sophie goes on to almost destroying the School for Good and killing almost half of the students, both good and evil. Thus proving just how much of a villain she really is. In the movie, this scene never happened. The Circus of Talents is one of the most crucial points in the book and yet the movie didn’t include it. Without this scene it led the movie to keep such a bland plot that at points nothing really made any sense. 


Overall, if you have read The School for Good and Evil books you will be severely disappointed at what you are watching. Whenever a book is made into a movie, fans of the books already get nervous about what’s going to happen to their beloved stories. However, sometimes it truly disgusts the fans just how badly an adaptation can go. While there are plenty of adaptations that take a book’s plot and showcase it well, sadly the same cannot be said for The School for Good and Evil, a film adaptation that completely destroys everything the fans hold dear.