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Bridge to Terabithia

A family film directed by Gabor Csupo and based on the novel by Katherine Paterson.

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A remarkable film

  • Jul 4, 2007
  • by
I watched "The Bridge to Terabithia" on a whim with my wife and daughter with little foreknowledge of the plot. I'd never read the Newbery Award-winning book by Katherine Paterson, and I'd seen only one trailer for the film, which left me with the impression it would be a Narnia knock-off. It's not.

I'm not dissing "The Chronicles of Narnia," which in its way was a remarkable film. But "Terabithia" didn't deserve the CGI-laden marketing campaign it received; far from a fantasy blockbuster, this is a deep and thoughtful movie that places substance over sparkle -- a rare treat in the sprawling field of youth-oriented theater. It ranks up there with one of my favorites, "The Secret of Roan Inish," which accomplished more with no special effects than most family-friendly movies could with a billion-dollar budget.

But I just can't shake "Terabithia" from my head, a fact owed mostly to the performance of AnnaSophia Robb. As Leslie, a spirited young girl with a fiery imagination and endless good cheer, AnnaSophia captured my heart. She's the kind of person you want to know when you're a child and, as my wife remarked midway through the film, she's the sort of young woman you'd be happy to see your daughter grow up to be.

An outsider despite her youthful good looks and family wealth, she finds her perfect match in Jesse (Joss Hutcherson), another outsider who has withdrawn into his art to escape a chilly home life and his own problems at school. Together, they discover a secret getaway that might seem like a fairly ordinary patch of woods to most people; to them, it's a magical world replete with fantastic creatures, hidden dangers and amazing triumphs. It's here the special effects intrude more than accentuate the film; the story would have benefited from a vaguer sense of Jesse and Leslie's own wonder. We don't need to see CGI creatures to believe that these two children do.

The strength here, besides outstanding performances from the two lead actors, is the impact of a story that knows no amount of fantasy can prevent real-life tragedies from occurring. And the tragedy here -- it's hard to write about it without giving it away -- slams into unsuspecting viewers like a sudden kick to the gut.

Parents of younger viewers should be prepared to have a long and serious talk with their children after this movie, but that's not a recommendation to avoid it. "Terabithia" deserves to be seen, discussed and seen again. (Although use some discretion; very young children should wait before seeing this.) My thanks to director Gabor Csupo, as well as writer Paterson, for giving kids something honest and real rather than another serving of high-energy fluff.

by Tom Knapp, Rambles.(n e t) editor

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More Bridge to Terabithia (2007 fil... reviews
review by . October 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Non-conformity and misfit often go hand-in-hand, and in my case they do and pretty much always have. Many movies I’ve reviewed show this. What is strange to me is how many movies I know little about tend to focus on either misfits or non-conformists or both. I’ve said before that, among other similar things, I don’t believe in kismet, but events like these give me a bit of a pause.      Bridge to Terabithia is a tale for the Twelve and Holding set. Jess (Josh …
review by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
         Recently I was chatting with a friend of mine, when I mentioned to him that I really wanted to see The Bridge to Terabithia. At first he kind of balked at the idea, even guffawing a little at the suggestion. I tried to justify my desire to watch the latest family film from our friends at Disney by explaining that I had loved the book when I was younger; along with Where the Red Fern Grows, another coming-of-age tale, it had really been the first …
review by . December 23, 2008
posted in Inspirations
Film poster
Based upon the award-winning book by Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia is a touching film about the bond between two children, both of them outcasts, who learn the importance of friendship and the power of imagination. The screenplay was written by Jeff Stockwell and co-written by David Paterson, the author's son, so the film remains quite faithful to the spirit of the book. The director, Gabor Csupo, handles the emotionally charged story with skill and sensitivity, which only heightens the …
review by . April 29, 2009
For those of us who fantasized about make-believe lands, this movie is right up our alley! Two misfits (a boy and girl) become friends, bonded by a play area across a stream from the boy's house. They swing across the stream on a rope that the girl says is enchanted. While on the other side they imagine a different world called Tarabithia which seems to come alive.     As the two bond together, they seem to make peace with the rest of the world from the kids that bully them at …
review by . January 02, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
For those of us who fantasized about make-believe lands, this movie is right up our alley! Two misfits (a boy and girl) become friends, bonded by a play area across a stream from the boy's house. They swing across the stream on a rope that the girl says is enchanted. While on the other side they imagine a different world called Tarabithia which seems to come alive.    As the two bond together, they seem to make peace with the rest of the world from the kids that bully them at …
review by . August 21, 2007
When I was a kid, I wanted the world to work that way. I wanted the trees to talk back, war with imaginary villains, and fly with the birds. I really felt it and so did the main characters of the story.    Josh Hutcherson, who is no stranger to acting already, starring in 15 plus films plays quiet and artistic Jesse Aarons who usually finds himself the [...] of jokes by the loud and obnoxious fellow students at his public school. Hutcherson is terrific and such an amazing lead …
review by . July 27, 2007
Just about every children's book gets turned into movie at least once. Examples include Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and many Disney tales. Unfortunately, the award-winners do not do so well at either the box office or from the critics. This list of movie letdowns include The Indian in the Cupboard, The Phantom Tollbooth, Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, and Watership Down. Luckily this is an adaptation. Based on the classic children's book of the same title, the screenplay of this movie was written …
review by . July 22, 2007
Main character Jesse is a lonely, misunderstood young boy; he is adored by his youngest sister, endured by the older ones, and wants only to be loved and acknowledged by his father...to whom he feels certain he is a disappointment. Jesse escapes from his home enviroment into a fantasy created and enabled by his love of drawing. When Leslie moves in next door...they soon discover that they share a love of all things imaginary. Together, they create the make-believe world of Terabithia...a secret, …
review by . April 22, 2007
'Bridge to Terabithia' is a portal to a better life for children and teens. Not simply a call to exercise one's imagination in an electronic age, 'Bridge...' never goes too far to illustrate kids making best use of their resources, including sifting all the elements of boredom, bullying, and fear that resonate in their lives. Sort of like 'Pan's Labyrinth' for children, country kids Jesse (Josh Hutcherson) and newcomer Leslie (Anna Sophia Robb) both find a land of enchantment that's only a swing …
About the reviewer
Tom Knapp ()
Ranked #283
I founded the online review site, Rambles.NET, in 1999 and continue to operate the site with more than 200 contributors and more than 14,000 reviews in our permanent online archives. A fraction of my … more
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Wikipedia page for Bridge to Terabithia

Animation master Gabor Csupo directs his first live-action film in this adaptation of the novel The Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson, whose son David co-wrote the screenplay and serves as a producer. Jess (Josh Hutcherson) is misunderstood. Despite Jess' talents as an artist, the school bullies pick on him, his father (Robert Patrick) belittles his dreams, and his four sisters invade his space in the family's cramped house. Jess' bleak world changes when Leslie (Annasophia Robb) moves into the house next door. Bright, creative and outspoken, Leslie also finds herself an outsider in their school. Soon the two are thick as thieves, spending their after school hours exploring the woods beyond their backyards and on the others side of a creek, which Leslie deems the kingdom of Terabithia. Here, they create their own magical world, complete with a Dark Master and his minions, dragonfly soldiers, giant trolls and a treehouse fortress. In Terabithia, the two friends let their imaginations run wild an...

Based on Katherine Paterson's young-adult novel and filmed in picturesque New Zealand, Bridge to Terabithia has lessons to impart about empathy and self-expression, but the tone is never heavy-handed. Jesse (sleepy-eyed Josh Hutcherson,Zathura), a fifth-grade loner, lives in the country with his parents and four sisters, including pesky May Belle (Bailee Madison), who adores him. His strict father (Robert ...
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