We took a shortcut to Katherine Paterson’s writing through watching the Bridge to Terabithia film. It was a bit of a surprise, and at the same time it was rather as I had expected. If that makes sense?
I didn’t understand any of the fantasy elements to the story. I mean, I knew they weren’t real, but initially I couldn’t work out if the children were simply playing and fantasising, or if magic occurred and moved them to somewhere else. I gather from reading up on it afterwards that it was the former.
Have to admit to finding the real world happenings much more fascinating, and wish that the story had remained on that level, describing the lives of the two children and the bullying and the money problems. That part of the film was really very good, well written and well acted.
So now I don’t know if I want to read Katherine’s books or not. And I’ve had the slightly uncharitable thought that Bridge to Terabithia is exactly what the judges of the Astrid Lindgren award look for. A sort of mini-Nobel.
The Wikipedia entry for the film provides more information than most people will ever need, so at least it answered my question on whether the film is faithful to the book. It is. Very, apparently. The screenplay was written by Katherine’s son David, and I believe the book was based partly on experiences from his childhood.
The child actors were excellent, and I was especially pleased to see a very young Bailee Madison again. But both Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb who play Jesse and Leslie were also really good.
The first third of the film we treated it as any ordinary film, but by the second third we were lost in the fantasy world that Jesse and Leslie think up. Daughter kept saying ‘there must be a point to it soon’. There was, but perhaps not one we could have guessed at.
There is a death, and Daughter was in tears. It was rather sad and very touching, and I gather some people would have preferred the script to only hurt the child a little, followed by a light coma and then happiness ever after again. I’m glad they didn’t go that route. It’s sad, but it feels real. And perhaps that is why the fantasy jars too much for me.
Or I’m just too old.