Bridge to Terabithia

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.

Bridge to Terabithia

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.

6 responses to “Bridge to Terabithia

  1. Have to admit that[i] I[/i] would like life to be a small hurt, a light coma and then happiness ever after.

    I saw this or some movie version on television some years ago. I was completely unprepared for the spoilerish aspect mentioned above. Usually it’s just the animals that have to die to illustrate reality. Which is bad enough.

  2. I also watched the film when it was on. Having loved the book when I was about 12 or 13… I don’t think the film explained the need fir the fantasy well enough. It’s a lot clearer in the book.

    The kids are supposed to be in that last phase of life where you can still imagine anything… Even though real life events are constantly pulling them back to the fact that life sucks… A good read.

    Love your blog. X

  3. Normally I’d be with you on that one, Seana. I’m all for light and happy, and then more again. But here I needed something to happen and had felt the dadadum (Beethoven style) coming for too long to object to the killing of a child. (On Wiki they mention that David P had a friend who died young and who the book is dedicated to.)

    Clare, thank you! And I suppose I can imagine that the fantasy is clearer in the book. To some extent we have been spoiled by too much ‘real fantasy’ in films and books in recent years. We expect people to really really end up in a different world, rather than just think it. And I gather AnnaSophia Robb was given the part for writing them a letter saying how much she loved the book…

  4. I watched the movie and was quite bored. I admit, I’m a big fantasy fan and the movie was neither fish nor fowl to me. Like your daughter, I kep waiting for the point. However, Claire’s explanation of the book sounds intriguing so I might be tempted to give it a go. Might.

  5. Happy New Year, Bookwitch! I have not seen the film, but have read the book, which I remember as excellent. So different from recent books which set out to ‘deal with death’ but signally fail to move.

  6. the fantasy sequences were used to sell the film so the story came as a complete surprise though i really liked the story. i think i’m a complete marshmallow because i was gobsmacked by the ending. i would have preferred a light coma – or even a drowned dog.

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