Tuesday 18th January 2022

Bridge To Terabithia (PG)
Directed by: Gabor Csupo
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz

Well, this is a turn-up for the books, as Tommy Cooper's scissor-happy librarian once said. Bridge to Terabithia is a children's film that isn't animated, is firmly grounded in reality and features strong emotional themes. Clearly, it's a marketing nightmare, which is why if you've even heard of this film, you are probably under the impression that it's a Narnia-esque journey into a magical land. That's certainly what I was led to believe before I saw it.

If someone doesn't buy him an easel soon, he's going to get a really sore neck
If someone doesn't buy him an easel soon, he's going to get a really sore neck

The truth is, however, it is based on an award-winning book first published in 1977, and follows the story of a young boy called Jesse. He lives on a farm with his parents and his sisters and he gets the bus to school everyday where he gets bullied by the other kids. About the only thing he likes at school is his music teacher Ms Edmonds (Zooey Deschanel). That's because she's fit.

One day, however, a new girl called Leslie arrives at school and bursts into Jesse's life like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. She is enthusiastic, energetic and has a wonderful imagination. And as if that weren't enough for young Jesse, he finds out on the bus ride home that Leslie and her parents have moved in next door. Before long they strike up a friendship and head off into the woods at the back of the farm to explore.

They entertain themselves by hanging out in a tree house and pretending they are in Terabithia, a magical world in which they are the king and queen and must defend the citizens from the Dark Master. It's not long before Jesse finds himself in love with both his teacher and the girl next door.

Here's the thing though – the audience is never in doubt that this imaginary world of theirs is just that: imaginary. And just as you think the fantasy world might flourish into something more real, instead reality delivers a crushing blow to the pair of them. The film is absolutely turned upside down by a single event, and what follows is twenty five minutes of incredibly emotional story.

I am extremely impressed with this film for one reason: I never thought a 95 minute kids film could run me through the emotional ringer as much as this. However, I have to question precisely who this film is aimed at. I wouldn't take any children to see it, on the grounds that it is way too upsetting, although maybe children won't feel the impact as much as an adult (kids are resilient/stupid like that). So really it is ideal for an adult who appreciates powerful cinema or who is a masochist.

I really liked this film and I thought about it for days after I saw it – quite a rare occurrence for me. It reminded me a lot of Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures, which is a similarly themed film that I also find so gut-wrenchingly trying to watch that I have only seen it once, despite its brilliance. Bridge to Terabithia is very nearly as worthy, but unfortunately, I think it will struggle to find an audience.

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Length: 95 minutes
Certificate: PG
Official Site:
IMDB Link:
Release Date: 4th May 2007

Top Five Rating: 80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0% (80.0%)
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