Bridge to Terabithia
Bridge to Terabithia, 2007, USA
Jesse (Josh Hutcherson) is a lonely boy who has no friends at school. He is bullied regularly by his classmates, and he is often ignored at home in favour of his sisters. When Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb) moves next door, the two slowly form a friendship. Leslie is also lonely and the two play together in the forest where they create their own fantasy kingdom called Terabithia. Jesse’s artistic ability coupled with Leslie’s active imagination allow them to create a vivid world within their imaginations.
I haven’t read the book of the same name by Katherine Paterson, so I can’t compare how faithful it was to the book. However, I thought the film was lovely. The friendship between Jesse and Leslie was very touching and it was a realistic portrayal of childhood friendship. Children of that age have incredibly active imaginations and I loved the idea of two children creating their own fantasy world. Both Hutcherson and Robb are capable actors and their characters felt very real.
The film itself takes a very painful shift about two thirds of the way through it. I was unaware of how sad it would be and actually watched it on Christmas Day, which was a bit unfortunate. The shift is handled with sensitivity and it is even more tragic given the theme of loneliness throughout the film. It can be difficult to handle tragedy in a way that keeps it accessible for children, but Bridge to Terabithia manages to keep it realistic and child-friendly. However, the film also appeals to adults, and I could relate to both protagonists in many ways. They reminded me of myself when I was that age. It was a great coming-of-age story and I loved how Jesse grew throughout the film.
I really liked that the emphasis of the film was on the two protagonists and not the mystical creatures within their minds. It was a character-focused film and had they included more CGI characters it would have taken away from the film.
I recommend Bridge to Terabithia – but don’t watch it on any holidays and keep a box of tissues close by.