Bridge to Terabithia

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Today’s Favorite Family Film is a more recent discovery (how was 2007 ten years ago already?) The story itself is much older, though. I grew up reading Bridge to Terabithia over and over again. It was never one that got read out loud, or at least, I don’t remember it being one that either of my parents ever read to us. It was one I read to myself. I checked it out of the library so many times, I think I pretty much wore out the binding. I KNOW that I left tear-stains on a few of the pages.

Imagine my delight (and skepticism) when I found out they were making this beloved story into a movie!

This is one of those rare occasions where the movie version is just as good as the book. And that’s a tough thing to come by, especially with a book I loved so dearly. But when I watch it, I really feel as though the writers and directors pulled the images directly from my imagination.

Travel back in time to simpler days with Jess, a young boy who lives on a farm and is a bit of a social outcast in school. As the movie opens, Jess has been training hard in order to win a footrace and hopes to use that victory to propel him into the good graces of his classmates. However, when he is beaten in the race by a new student… and a girl… Jess feels that his hopes of acceptance are lost. Despite this rocky start to their relationship, Jess and Leslie soon become true friends. Leslie encourages Jess in his love of art, and then sweeps Jess along into an imaginary world of her own creation where they are King and Queen of Terabithia: a magical realm filled with amazing creatures. Together they go on epic adventures in their imagination and translate what they learn in their make-believe play into courage and loyalty in the real world.

I must warn you, though. I thought everyone had read this book. It was kind of a staple of my childhood. All of my friends were required to read it in grade school… so I just sort of assumed it was like Tom Sawyer… and that everyone was familiar with the plot. When I went to see it in the theaters, imagine my surprise at discovering my husband had never read the book. Not knowing this, I did not warn him that the end is very sad. Those tear-stains I mentioned? Yeah, that’s not just because this is a sweet story. It is also achingly tragic. The end of this movie will rip your heart out and make you cry… so, be warned, the story stays unswervingly close to the original storyline. (My husband… erm… refuses to ever watch this movie again).

But there is beauty in this sorrow. I highly recommend you read the book… and then watch the movie. Or watch the movie… and then read the book. They are both that good, I don’t even know which to recommend first! (Upon further consideration… probably read the book first. It might soften the blow at the end of the movie… since you’ll know it’s coming and be prepared for it).

I’m not even sure what genre to put this movie into. Perhaps it fits best where most of my favorite movies go, as my sister once said to a classmate who couldn’t believe she hadn’t seen some big-name movie, “If there was a category in the video-store labelled ‘wholesome,’ I’ve probably seen every movie that would be in that section.”

Have you seen this movie? Have you read the book? Which did you enjoy more? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

~ jenelle

10 Comments

E.F.B.

I’m afraid I didn’t like Bridge to Terabithia as much as you. Or…at all, really. My mom and I watched it when it first came out, thinking it was a fun, light, movie about kid’s imaginations, with no emotional gravitas , and then BOOM the spoilery thing happened. We knew nothing about the story beforehand and weren’t expecting it At All. My mom was even confused and thought it was something the kids had made up and I hd to tell her, no, the thing really did happen and it’s not un-doing itself. We were both upset, did the DVD equivalent of *bookwall* and swore never to watch the traitorous, heart-rending movie again, much less read the book. #traumatized

Maybe it wouldn’t have bothered us if we’d known what was coming and expected that type of message from the movie, but the advertising gave absolutely no hints about that and neither of us knew the story beforehand, so it really felt like a smack in the face. And we don’t like being smacked in the face. I’m glad other people enjoy it, I just think it’s one of those that could use the forewarning that you’re going to cry.

Reply
jenelle

Yeah… I can understand that. I knew the end was coming, because I read the book, so it didn’t surprise me. My husband went to see it with me and I didn’t warn him… he…. erm… refuses to ever watch it again.

That is why I put in the bit about the ending being tragic and ripping out your heart. Not enough warning?

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Vera Brakenshaw

I adored the book – and still do – but haven’t been able to see this movie! I had heard from so many friends that they were disappointed by it, I guess I didn’t want to ruin it myself. But I think I’ll start trying to convince my family to watch this with me soon – I really hope they can do the book justice! My family and I watched a stage play version of this a few years ago, so they all know the story . . . although they were pretty shocked by that spoiler bit, as none of them had ever read the book.

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jenelle

It was one where I really did feel like they managed to create the scenes directly from my imagination as I read the book… of course… my imagination is probably rather different from a lot of other people’s…. ;)

Yeah, the end kind of happens without warning. I think reading the book first is a good way to go… :)

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Deborah O'Carroll

I’ve been giving this story (book and movie) a wiiiide berth due to said spoilery thing which I actually know what it is and is why I don’t want to try it out. XD BUT I’m so glad that you liked it! And I loved your review for it and always love hearing about books that meant that much to my favorite people when they were young, and still do, because that’s like sharing a part of your heart and even if I’m not sure I’d like it myself, it’s still special because of that. ^_^

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jenelle

Yeah… I was thinking about you as I wrote the post… thinking, “Deborah wouldn’t like this one.” There is a lot of poignant beauty to the story, enough that – for me! – it makes the tragic parts worth the rest of the story. Don’t know if it would for you.

Awww, that’s such a neat way to look at hearing about books people loved when they were young. Kind of goes with your tower analogy post… which was EPIC by the way. I’ve been thinking of what books make up my “tower.” May write a post about them at some point… your blog always gives me such amazing ideas! :) Thank you for that! :)

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Deborah O'Carroll

Wow, oops. XD
And, I mean, I’m rereading The Silmarillion and that’s all kinds of tragic and beautiful, so. XD

I would love seeing a tower post from you!! And aww, that makes me happy. ^_^ Thanks!

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jenelle

hehe I didn’t mean that in a bad way!!! Just that I know you don’t like sad-endings-particularly-where-a-main-character-dies… that’s all!

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