Bridge to Terabithia on film

You’d be surprised how many people are at a 10 am screening on a Wednesday morning. I was not expecting to be here, but have just this morning realised that if I don’t see Bridge to Terabithia soon it will close. I will lose my chance. So I am in the line too.

A lot of the people around me have won their tickets. On the radio. And isn’t it funny that when you’ve got something for free you’re more pushy than you might otherwise be? It’s all right lady – she is shorter and stouter than me – there’s not that many people here. You’ll get your Harry Potter seat.

I digress. I share my cinema with three other people. A woman probably twice my age. An ex-teacher, I suppose, or perhaps a librarian. And a couple who walk in nearly late. They are in their early twenties, and so I guess she read the book when she was at school and now has dragged him along. It’s what I would have done.

Have you read Bridge to Terabithia? If you’ve read it once, then I’m sure you’ve read it twice. And if you’ve read it twice, I think you should see the film. Quick. It’s closing soon.

Rarely have I enjoyed a film quite this much. I was utterly, completely absorbed. I cried at the very first bird which grew life from the one Jess had drawn. I cried as May Belle ran alongside the race calling out ‘go Jess’. I cried when the music teacher sang. And of course, I cried when…well, you know when. I only had one tissue. It wasn’t enough.

I won’t give it away, just in case you haven’t read it, just in case you’re planning to see it, but this is the type of story that demands to be re-read once you know what happens. As in life, the front of the story becomes more precious once you know the end.

Halfway through, I thought it’s such a pity that my own children are too young yet to come with me. I think he needs another year (or possibly two – he still won’t watch the Pooh movie, so you can see what we’re up against), but one day, he’ll love it, I reckon, my oldest child. And while there are some very good films for children, this will stand the test. It is intelligent and doesn’t patronise. It’s plot and themes are timeless (unfortunately, I suppose): bullying; friendships formed on the outer; a father who doesn’t understand his son. The acting is superb – I mean, just get a look at what that girl does, and yay to the music teacher too. The scenery. Don’t you love the way Aotearoa has become the defining location for stories which dwell on the edge of the imagined and the real?

There was a flaw in the script – the reference to the internet is gratuitous and if it was supposed to date the film, well, it will. And it is true, as they say, that the fantasy elements are the least successful parts of the film. But I thought they were as understated as they were supposed to be, given that in the book, Terabithia was truly a place of the imaginiation. And it was nice to be in a movie that didn’t assault with its special effects.

I’ve got my mother’s copy of Bridge to Terabithia on my desk. There’s her name written in the front. She was a primary school teacher, my mum. Parents who are teachers are crap at teaching their kids anything. Don’t take offence. You know you are – maths, driving, geography – if your parents are teachers you won’t learn it from them. But I watched my mother grow more and more enamoured of this book the more she taught it. It would appeal, I think, to a teacher who is trying to make connections with the children who need it most.

I hope that one of the children she read it to is watching it now and thinking the same thing as me.

Bridge to Terabithia. Five stars.

0 thoughts on “Bridge to Terabithia on film”

  1. Hooray! One of my favourite books of all time. I read it over and over and over. I’m glad the movie turned out well, I haven’t seen it, though I’m sure it finished in the UK ages ago.

    I remember my little brother, who didn’t read much in those days, bawling his eyes out under his doona as he finished it. ‘It’s like a movie,’ he said, ‘it’s like watching a movie.’ Highest praise.

  2. It’s my movie of the year. I went to the cinema totally unprepared having never read the book or even heard of the book (I know – what rock did I crawl from under) and I have not cried as much ever in a movie.

    Two tissue boxes worth. I didn’t have a single tissue.

    Fantastic. Five stars. Go and see it.

  3. Bugger. I have all but missed it here. It is on at one cinema a long way away for one session in the middle of the day.I remember reading it in my youth and finding it profoundly disturbing (having always been afraid of the D-word) but I thought that the movie adaptation sounded good.

    I too went to a movie today on the grounds that if I didn’t, I’d miss it. it was Harry Potter. There was a trailer for The Dark is Rising with American accents. That made me cry.

  4. Thanks Thirdcat. I didn’t even know this was a movie and probably wouldn’t have found out. I read the book only once – it was in my primary school library – but it was one of THOSE books that stays with you forever.

  5. ah, absolutely loved that book as a kid, all of Katherine Paterson’s books; hearing about the film really made me want to reread them. i might just go look at our library catalogue now since you’ve reminded me–cheers!

  6. I cried too. Didn’t you love the giant? I loved his mild, smiling face.

    That was an interesting comment about Aotearoa. (as someone with numerous NZ outlaws)

    A minor rant- Please please don’t take the kids to those Pooh movies! They will never see the real stories and the reall illustrations in their heads. Instead they’ll have that bastardised version. I’m always thinking of doing a post on the awfulness of Disney Winnie-the-Pooh but never get around to it. Same goes for the books.

    I know all movie treatments are different from the original (as with BTT) but the Disney crap really goes a bridge too far and the way they presume to write “new” episodes which don’t fit at all with the old ones is just appalling. They need to stick to new writers.


  7. Hi everyone…and sorry for lack of replies lately, but it’s good to hear from you – it’s such a good book.

    Helen, you are right (imho) about the pooh movies. It is part of my ongoing struggle to introduce my children to a film culture. And for about a year now, I have been writing my post on children’s movies with direct reference to that, and any day now, I will finish it! I think they were really, really pushing the boundaries when they made the heffalumps visible to everyone.

  8. Loved the book (one of my childhood books that has survived through to my adult library, along with Narnia, Displaced Person and the Billabong series), have been scared to go and see the film in case it didn’t live up to my imagination. i will now. And quickly.

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