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bridge to terabitha Bridge to Terabitha
Directed by:
Gabor Csupo
Cast: Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb, Zooey Deschanel, Robert Patrick

Written by:
Ricardo Barberini

February 26, 2007

We do not understand the reason why many children stories and songs are sad or down right cruel.  Even the stories with happy endings such as Cinderella have cruel twists in them.  And what about the lyrics of the Three Blind Mice?  Mean and pitiless.


This story which starts on a high note is not that different from the rest of them.  A mean beginning, a happy sojourn and a tragic ending.

As some of you may know, this movie was initially made as a TV movie back in 1985.  It is a short story about a boy and girl living in the rural areas that make friends because they are both outsiders and dreamers.

Jesse Aarons (Josh Hutcherson) is a pre-teen the son of a poor family living in a rural area.  He is the only boy in a family of five children.  He is henpecked by his older sisters and does not have the emotional support that he needs at that age.  His mother is overextended emotionally with a new baby while trying to make ends meet and his father pays more attention to his little sister than to him.  Maybe he is trying to make a man out of him?  He does not have any friends, is a loaner at school and is harassed by older kids.  His only means of escape is his drawings and paintings.

A new neighbor (The Burkes) moves.  They have an unusual girl.  Leslie Burke is a bright happy girl who takes a liking to Jesse and soon they develop a strong bond of friendship.  The two children soon find a deserted tree house in a ominous looking forest across creek.  They let their imagination run wild and visualize trolls, monster and forest creatures. 

Their daily adventures somewhat parallels the daily happening in their lives at school and home. 

Being a pre-teen, Jesse is infatuated with their attractive music teacher a Ms. Edmund ( Zooey Deschanel.)  So, when one day she offers to take him to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, he gladly accepts the offer without asking Leslie to go along with them.

While he is away, Leslie who is left behind tries to cross the creek to the magical forest, but falls into the creek and drowns. 

The last ten to fifteen minutes of the movie is about how Jesse learns to cope with the loss and picks up where the two of them had left off by taking his younger sister with him to the forest as the new princess of Terabithia.

The story is based on a Novel by Katherine Paterson who won a Newbery Medal for writing this book in 1978.  The people who give these awards are generally all adult; in fact older adults.  I can say with some certainty that there were probably no pubescent voters on the panel.  So, these people decide that a book is good for children and as a result many parents blindly buy or borrow these books from the libraries. 

While it is true that younger children easily forget tragic events and get on with life it is not true about older juveniles. 

When this writer was about the same age as Jesse in the book, we had a new family move next door.  They had an infant girl who was approximately one year old.  The father worked every day and the mother was always busy.  They used to put the baby behind the screen on the second storey on their house facing our garden.  Soon, I started noticing her and developed an affection for this girl.  Every day after school, I would stand in the garden and talk to her.  After a while, she would know my voice and expected to see me and would gurgle back to me and laugh heartily for me.   Then one day they left.  I was heartbroken for a long time.  My parents, just like Jesse’s parents, tried to console me.  The fact is that I never got over my sadness and to this day, I feel melancholy whenever I remember that little girl behind the screen looking down and smiling at me.

At that age, it is not so easy to forget things and get on with it as Katherine Paterson seems to think.

Gabor Csupo directed that movie.  His background is generally in TV and mostly animation TV at that.  This is really his first feature movie.  Although he directed another movie nearly thirty years ago.

Parts of this story have been told, maybe hundreds of time before.  The school bullies and the school authorities who turn a blind eye to how some kids are mistreated by other kids.  How many time have we seen these before?  The claustrophobic family home of Jesse, on the other hand, is deftly handled by the director.

The acting by AnnaSophia Robb was wonderful.  She personified the smart, athletic and yet very sensitive young girl that she was supposed to be.  We were impressed and foresee a great future for her. 

Robert Patrick, portrays the role of a harassed father who is living from hand to mouth on a daily basis with professionalism. He loves his kids but does not have any time to spend with his family.   Zooey Deschenl as Ms. Edmunds, the young music teacher who flirts with Jesse, is believable except why would a woman who looks like that be ever lonely enough to need the company of a twelve or a thirteen year old is beyond me.   Lauren Clinton as Janice Avery looks mean enough to be a school bully!

The studio, Disney, has promoted this as another movie in the same class as Narnia.  There are no comparisons.  Narnia as a concept, a story and a movie is far superior to this movie.

We give this movie star1/2.   We do not recommend it for children even though it is promoted as such.

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