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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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Better Than Advertised

  • Jul 12, 2010
Rating:
+4

         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 novel to make me cry. While he admitted he hadn’t read it himself, he countered, asking me, didn’t I think the movie looked like quite a “bastardization?” I told him that was possible, but I was hoping that the marketing campaign was only trying to make it look like it was the next Narnia to draw in viewers, and regardless, the book was so good I wanted to risk it. Plus, I knew my favorite actress, Zooey Deschanel, was in it. He gave me his blessing a week later when his personal favorite critic, Orson Scott Card, gave it a chance upon hearing it was actually true to the book, and found the film, and Zooey Deschanel in particular, to be outstanding.
            So, the next day, when another friend of mine and I, along with my brother, showed up at the theater only to find that 300 was sold out, my friend suggested, laughingly, that we see The Bridge to Terabithia instead, ready to play it off as a joke should I disapprove, but accepting when I didn’t; oh masculinity. It was a wise choice. As with pretty much any on-screen translation, the movie wasn’t, and really couldn’t be, as good as the book. It would take hours and hours of footage to go into the detail the book does. As far as adaptations go though, this one was very good at capturing the essence of its parent. It did a great job of evoking from silent scenes meaning explicitly spelled out in the book, even in parts that had to be very hastily shown onscreen to move the story along efficiently. In addition, it didn’t shy away from many of the heavier themes like death, religion, abuse, isolation, and approval, that made the novel so glorious to soften it for families, and it nailed the blunt shocking nature of the story’s twist so well that I forgot it was coming when it did. Also to my delight, Ms. Deschanel, in a role I imagined her being perfect for, that of Ms. Edmunds the raven-haired, free spirited music teacher, nailed the part, and it’s always a treat for me to hear her sing.
            I read a review of the movie that gave the film a low mark, citing that the film didn’t make much sense because Jess, the main character, was more enthralled with his music teacher than the fantasy land that he and his independent new neighbor and classmate Leslie discover in their backyard. What this critic fails to realize though is that the whole point of the movie revolves around the lessons Jess learns from Leslie, and to a lesser extent Ms. Edmunds, and how this allows him to grow as a person, to open his mind and not be afraid to express himself. Their secret country, Terabithia, is all simply an elaborate exercise in the powers of the imagination. Would it not make less sense if Jess was more interested in a figment of his mind’s creation than reality?
            As expected, there were some over the top cheesy moments, obligatory to the target audience, but they were entirely forgivable. Most aspects of Terabithia which go unmentioned in the book are depicted fairly elaborately, I’m sure partly to appeal to the Narnia crowd, which makes even more sense since in the book Leslie even cites C.S. Lewis’ series as her inspiration for creating Terabithia, and also as a necessity for a visual medium like film. People who say they were duped into seeing this movie should stop complaining about a lack of fantasy scenes; the movie’s a story about growing up in the ever expanding real world of a fifth grader, not fighting magical creatures. If they could accept it for what it is, not what it isn’t, they would likely realize what a gem they’ve just stumbled upon.
            As someone who has read the book, it’s not possible for me to like the movie as much as someone who hasn’t. I not only have the book to compare it against, but with this story more so than others, knowledge of the startling ending makes it less impressionable. With that said, the fact that I still liked it so much, and that my brother and friend who hadn’t read it liked it even more, is a real testament to how good the movie is.

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July 13, 2010
wow. very nice take on the movie. My friend Orlok may want to check out your review...Welcome to our community!
July 15, 2010
Thank You!
 
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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 . 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 . July 04, 2007
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 …
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 …
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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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