18
Feb
07

Bridge to Paradoxia

Some time ago, I heard that there was a new film adaptation of Bridge to Terabithia being made, but I didn’t pay much attention. I remembered the book … mostly. Jeff got me to read it once. I read so few kids’ books as a kid, opting instead for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and other Douglas Adams treats and (nerd alert! nerd alert!) Choose Your Own Adventure. I think he thinks I missed out on something vital. So, as an adult, I’ve read several Newbery Award winners and liked it. He made me a Little House on the Prairie lover (but he won’t read Harry Potter!). Ah, such is life.

I was alarmed to see Walden Media, producer of the Narnia movie(s), and Disney named in the full-page, full-color Bridge to Terabithia ad in last week’s Arts & Leisure section. I thought it would be a special effects-ridden disaster — like maybe it would literalize Terabithia and trap the poor children playing the two main characters in an emotionless, Lucasian, green-screen hell. The ad featured a giant troll, insect-like soldiers, fantastical humanoids I presumed to be Terabithians, a castle on a hilltop, somone riding an ostrich, and an overgrown beaver with a colander on its head — which I was sure would talk! And the way the children were rendered, it looked like the whole thing was CGI.

But I knew Jeff and I would have to see it anyway.

I am pleased to report that there are no talking beavers. Jess and Leslie are played by real humans. Special effects, at worst mildly intrusive, were kept to a minimum, and the emotional value of the story rings true and clear. There is a central plot turn toward the end that made several people in the audience gasp audibly, but we, knowing how it ended, were getting weepy long before anything bad happened. So, I guess the film succeeds on that front.

The movie, as well as the book, is about being a free thinker, having your head in the clouds while keeping your feet planted on hard ground. It’s about making your environment rather than simply reacting to it. It’s about seeing the world around you in a new way, imagining something bigger and more real in many ways.

So, upon leaving the theater, I couldn’t help but think: Doesn’t the very act of making this movie, “revealing” a Terabithia to us that may not be anything like ours, fly in the face of the whole point of the book?

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