"When I discovered that a movie was produced that was based on Patterson's book, Bridge to Terabithia, I was very interested in viewing it. After seeing the movie, I was extremely disappointed in the film version. I felt that it did not develop the characters, plot, and theme to the point that Patterson had.
In the novel, Patterson does an excellent job of describing the main characters, Jess and Leslie. We discover their insecurities, likes and dislikes, and their family situations. Although the film does make it apparent that the two become best friends, Patterson has a way of showing you why they needed each other. Jess, coming from a family of having only sisters and demanding parents, needed an outlet and Leslie, being an only child with extremely progressive parents, needed Jess as a social peer. Patterson also explains how much Jess's life improves from meeting and building a friendship with Leslie, by becoming more confident and caring. The film does not cover that metamorphosis to the same degree.
Major scenes in the book have been severely shortchanged or even omitted in the movie. The strong opening where Jess is determined to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade is represented in a poor manner. The poignant moment where Jess builds a bridge to Terabithia, which is where the title of the book comes from, doesn't even exist in the film version! Jess's guilt from going to the art museum is lightly mentioned, but never clarified. Also, the lack of development with scenes involving key supporting roles, really affects the overall message in the story.
The two major themes of Patterson's book are friendship and loss. By not defining seasons in the film, the viewer is not fully aware of how long Leslie and Jess are friends. It does not give the idea that the two of them have developed such a strong bond that they would do anything for each other. The actors portraying the role were not convincing as to what their characters were truly feeling during critical moments in the story.
Once the credits began to roll on the television screen, I was left with the feeling that one of my most beloved books had been misrepresented. This is definitely a case where the quality of the book far exceeds that of the movie in all aspects."
Adequate interpretation of the book, but not magical
S. Brand | United States | 01/29/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I can't say that this film, based on a popular book for young readers is particularly impressive. It's the story of two friends who enjoy an imaginary world together in the woods, a place they call "Terabithia" , and whose special friendship ends in tragedy, (reminding me of the more recent movie, "My Girl"). This is a plot with a lot of potential to make a good movie, but to me, some of the acting seemed shallow, and the plot, as interpreted by the movie, lacked depth and detail. The relationship between the two best friends is not fully developed, so there isn't much of an "emotional charge" to draw you in. In spite of these negatives, the film is entertaining enough to keep some children's attention, or for family-time viewing and discussion. I think the best use of the film would be to show it to children at home or at school as a supplement to the book, and for this, it would serve its purpose adequately. It may be time to do a higher quality remake of this movie."
Video good but doesn't measure up
Dennis McGonagle | Whittier, Ca United States | 03/27/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As an elementary school teacher, I read Bridge to Terabithia with my class every year. It's the best core-lit book in our school. The video is pretty good for a TV movie. The acting performances approximate the characters pretty well. It could easily been a lot better with the addition of a classroom teacher character. Combining the teacher Jess loves with the one he can't stand was a bad move. Still. I enjoy showing the movie after reading the book. As we say in Spanish, Mejor que nada!"
Time for a remake...
Deb | Scarborough, Ontario Canada | 04/01/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I insist on this novel every spring with my Grade 5 students - a perfect book for reading aloud - jewel-like prose, great messages, palpable relationships. I'm grateful this film exists, since we get a good chance to compare such adaptations with originals. Both kid actors are adequate, often quite natural, occasionally stilted. A strong sense of poignancy never quite evolves, however. Or poverty. Or personal conflict...I'd suggest a lush, more developed remake, motion-picture length, which includes scenes and characters not explored in this version. It would become sacred to English teachers across this continent. Just like the newest Secret Garden, or Narnia, perhaps."
Deb | 08/23/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an amazing story! For pre-teen readers. It will definalty touch your life....The book is about a young boy who has a crush on his music teacher, sort of a misfit in his family, a loner. A girl, about his age moves in next door in a big, old barn house. The two share amazing adventures together...a childhood of imagination and wonder! Then one day, it all ends, tragicly. As you imagine your self as the boy or the girl, your life will never be the same again...Be prepared, this story will touch your life and it is surly on you will never forget.... END"