This film was adapted from a novel with the same title written by Katherine Paterson in 1977. The story of the novel is based on the children’s story of the book’s author, David L. Peterson.
Bridge to Terabithia, starring Anna Sophia Robb, Josh Hutcherson, Bailee Madison, Robert Patrick, and Zooey Deschanel, tells the story of the lives of two 11-year-old children who are neighbors.
They created their own world, named Terabithia. To make it clearer, let’s first read the synopsis and review of the film here before you watch it!
Synopsis Bridge to Terabithia
Jesse “Jess” Aarons (Josh Hutcherson) is an 11-year-old boy who lives with his family, consisting of his mother, father, and four siblings, in Lark Creek. He is the only son in the family.
Jesse’s family is having financial difficulties. Even so, Jesse is a child who has an extraordinary imagination, and he sheds his imagination in the form of pictures.
Every day he always goes to school by bus with his younger sister, May Belle (Bailee Madison). On the bus, he is always harassed by another student named Janice Avery (Lauren Clinton).
That day, Jess had to wear her older sister’s shoes because her parents didn’t have much money.
Because of that, while in class, Jess was made fun of by her friends named Scott Hoager (Cameron Wakefield) and Gary Fulcher (Elliot Lawless). On the same day, a rock student named Leslie Burke (Anna Sophia Robb) appears in his class.
During recess, Jess takes part in a running competition, which she has previously practiced at home. It turned out that Leslie also participated in the competition, and unexpectedly, Leslie won the competition. This annoyed Jess. When they got home, Jess and Leslie found out that they were neighbors.
Jess and her father’s relationship was not very warm, and her father spent most of his time with his sister, May Belle. On the way home, on the bus, Leslie accidentally sees Jess coloring her drawing. However, Jess was cold and closed her book. Leslie still tries to be friendly by offering him chewing gum.
The next day, while in the classroom hall, Jess again harassed by the two friends and almost fell from her drawing book. Luckily, Leslie, who was behind him, could catch the book. He commented on Jess’s drawings and drawing abilities.
In the subject Mrs. Myers (Jen Wolfe), Leslie asked to read his essay. When Leslie read the story in her writing, Jess seemed to witness what written in Leslie’s story.
Then Mrs. Myers had the kids watch television shows for their writing material. But Leslie said that he did not have a television. This made him laugh at his friends. But Leslie did not care about the ridicule of her friends.
After school, Leslie asked Jess to go somewhere. They ran through the vast meadows until they entered the forest.
That’s where they saw a swing from a rope. At first, Jess was hesitant and forbade Leslie to try it. However, when she saw Leslie swinging happily, Jess dared to try.
Leslie was also the one who invited Jess to enter the forest across the river using the rope. The two of them then explored the forest and found a tree house, which became their secret place.
They finally found a new world, which they named Terabithia. After that, the two spent more time in the tree house.
On Jess’s birthday, her parents gave her a present that turned out to be so bad that it broke on the spot. Unexpectedly, the next day, Jess also received a surprise birthday present from Leslie in the form of color paint.
Because the garden in the greenhouse damaged by animals, his father set a trap to catch the animals and kill them. Jess didn’t like the idea. So when he heard a sound in the green house, he immediately got up and pulled out the trapped animals from his father’s trap. This made his father furious at Jess.
Apparently her father’s words to her when she angry made Jess lose faith in Terabithia, so she said harsh things to Leslie. The next day, he apologized to Leslie and presented her with a puppy he named Prince Terrien, or P.T.
Not only Jess got bullied, but Leslie too. He bullied by Janice Avery. The two finally got their revenge by humiliating Janice in front of the boy she liked. When they got home, Leslie invited Jess to stop by her house. Jess saw a family warmth that she didn’t feel at home.
Leslie also found reasons why Janice likes bullying. Janice often treated harshly by her father. After that incident, Leslie and Janice became friends. The next day, Edmunds, her music teacher, calls to take Jess to the museum. Jess was happy to hear that.
Coming home from the museum, his mother suddenly saw it as hysterical. His father had told him something about Leslie. The news left Jess devastated.
A Heart-Touching Story of Friendship and the Power of Imagination
The director of this film directs stories of friendship and the power of imagination in a way that touches the heart so that miracles appear in children’s lives.
Although there visual effects incorporated into the film when it comes to depicting the creatures in Terabithia, the touching story actually comes from Leslie and Jess’ real-life experiences.
Both of them have to deal with strict teachers, bullies, and parents who are not warm. What they learn in the imaginary world, they apply in everyday life.
For example, when Janice, who likes to yell at children who are going to use the toilet on the playground, disturbs Jess’s sister, the two of them then take revenge by humiliating her in front of other students.
But when they found out that Janice was suffering from her father’s torment, they empathized and imagined her appearing as a helper in Terabithia.
Realistic characters and a clear background
Each character in this film feels realistic and has a believable background. For example, the character Janice Janice described as a child who likes to bully other students who are younger than her, such as Jess and May Belle. The two of them looked helpless.
It turns out that there is a reason for Janice’s actions. Janice has a father who likes to torture her so that she becomes a child who likes to bully other people.
There are no bad characters in this film. Janice, who is a bully, after being helped by Leslie, finally becomes a friend and even helps Jess. Mrs. Myers, who looks fierce, turns out he keeps a sad secret in his life. He was also the one who helped Jess when she lost a close friend.
Likewise with Jess’s father, who described as a grumpy father, like when Jess lost the key. However, at the end of the film, Jess’s father proves that he really cares for her and helps her in her toughest times.
Shot and Soundtrack Become the Main Strength of the Film
Bridge to Terabithia filming locations are mostly in Auckland, New Zealand. So it is not surprising that this film presents a vast expanse of meadows and unspoiled forests.
When Leslie asked Jess to close her eyes and then open them, a beautiful view appeared on the screen: a large valley complete with waterfalls, mountains, and castles. The audience invited to see the world of Terabithia through the eyes of Jess and Leslie.
In Ms. Edmunds’ (Zooey Deschanel) class, the audience can listen to songs that describe the situation of Leslie and Jess, such as “Why can’t we be friends?” and “Someday.” These are the highlights of this film: beautiful panoramic shots and an effective soundtrack.
Seeing the close friendship between Leslie and Jess, the audience expects them to be together until the end of the story. Maybe they will grow up together into adulthood. But unexpectedly, a bad incident happened to Leslie.
This is an unexpected twist. But indeed, the story is based on the true story of the son of the novelist, David L. Paterson. His childhood friend, Lisa Hill, struck by lightning and died. The audience treated to the sad performance of Jess, who lost her best friend.
Bridge to Terabithia teaches the audience that anything is possible if we believe in it. Leslie taught him the power of imagination so he could create Terabithia. The power taught by Leslie has succeeded in making shy Jess brave enough to stand up to her bullies.
“Bridge to Terabithia” is able to present adult topics with touch and sensitivity. This film teaches about the power of imagination while still being grounded in the real world. Therefore, this film is suitable for children to watch while still under parental guidance.