Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
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Jeff Stockwell, David Paterson
Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb, Zooey Deschanel, Robert Patrick, Judy McIntosh, Bailee Madison, Katrina Cerio, Devon Wood, Emma Fenton, Grace Brannigan, Latham Gaines, Patricia Aldersley, Lauren Clinton, Isabelle Rose Kircher, Cameron Wakefield
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Young Jess Aarons is a confused child. He wants more than anything to be an artist, but that conflicts with his lower class family and his father's strong, work with your hands ethic. He spends his days in school trying to earn some sort of respect while avoiding the bullies, and his nights cooped up in the house with four sisters, an overworked mother, and a father whom he just can't seem to connect with in any meaningful way.
Enter The Burkes. They buy the rundown house next door. They are upper middle class, urban intellectuals, well-read people with no television. Their daughter, Leslie, is Jess's age, and fails to make friends with him at first, by being a faster runner at school than he. She eventually wins him over with her charm and earnestness, and they forge a fast friendship.
Subconsciously recognizing their similar outcast natures, Leslie at school and Jess at home, they strive to have a place of their own, and they find that in an abandoned tree house in the woods, accessible by swinging on a rope across a creek. They dub this tree house their castle in the land of Terabithia, where they reign as king and queen, dealing with the fantastic enemies of the state.
Unlike the recent spate of high CGI kids' movies, the supernatural elements in this film are all make-believe on the part of the two children, and kept to a minimum at that. The fantasy life of the two kids never becomes a crutch to avoid reality, but rather the prism through which they attempt understanding of their world. It refracts their world into manageable chunks, allowing them to come to terms with different elements of their lives in an easier manner: the way the love of a parent may seem constrictive when it is meant to be constructive, how to deal with bullies, and even how to understand them, and mostly how to have the confidence in themselves to find their way in life.
And then the bottom drops out of the film. It betrayed me, cozened me and pulled me to its breast, and then raked its claws across my face. It pulled my heart out and ate it, then licked its fingers clean. I was reduced to the kind of sobbing one generally sees when a three-year old has a toy taken away.
But through this painful scenario, Jess learns the ultimate lesson. That even when life deals him harsh blows, he must instead concentrate on the magic that friendship enabled him to see, and to continue that legacy for the rest of his days. And so he builds the bridge, and takes his little sister across it, and I knew he was going to be okay. Not just okay, but better. And I was lifted from my dark place.
This is an excellent film, with strong work not only by both child actors, who were fabulous, but also by Zooey Deschanel and Robert Patrick. Directed by Gabor Csupo, of Nickelodeon Cartoon fame, the film stays true to the heart of the book, and never takes the easy way. It is a film filled with important lessons for children, albeit some hard to take, but it is an equally beautiful and moving film for adults as well. I urge everyone to watch it, though I may never watch it a second time myself. I'm not made of steel.
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May 2, 2008 5:20 PM
|Very insightful review. I'm impressed. Not many men would get the depth of this movie and would not see beyond the surface of what it is. Based on other reviews of yours that I've read and comments that I've seen you leave on other reviews I think you and I would have gotten along quite well. I'm sorry to see that you are leaving.|
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