This post contains spoilers to the film, Bridge to Terabithia.
I have never read the award-winning children’s novel by Katherine Paterson, so the first time I watched Bridge to Terabithia, I didn’t have any idea what was in store for me. The deceiving movie previews made it seem like Bridge to Terabithia was the next Chronicles of Narnia. Fortunately, it wasn’t.
The film is based around two kids, Jesse and Leslie, who spark a unique friendship with each other on the basis that they both never had friends before and how they both have a wild imagination. From there, they’re able to open each others’ minds to a world they call Terabithia.
In my opinion, Leslie meant a lot more to Jesse than he did to her, though they both expressed their best friendship openly towards one another. With Jesse’s broken house, strict father, and annoying sisters, all he looked forward to day after day was hanging out with Leslie and going to Terabithia with her.
We all had that “something” we could do or go to escape from the stress and hardships of reality when we were younger. Personally, I used to build forts or tents in my own room, pretend my bed was a ship that was sailing to a distant land, or I allowed my imagination to take over with my action figures and Legos. The feeling of being consumed by a fantasy world, if only temporary, is enough to keep a child’s innocence intact.
The truly tear-jerking moment was when it was brought to our (and Jesse’s) attention that Leslie died. She was swinging on the rope to Terabithia when the rope snapped, she hit her head, and drowned. I honestly cannot imagine the feeling of losing a best friend at such a young age.
I feel the way the movie portrayed the way Jesse handled the news was true to heart and accurate. He didn’t believe his family at first. He got mad at anyone who provided sympathy towards him. The morning after, it didn’t seem like he remembered that she was dead, until he visited the house for the wake. And then the next few days dragged on like a lifetime. He felt completely lost and alone without Leslie. He even ran through Terabithia calling out her name. Slowly, he began to leave her memory behind but it was undoubtedly painful for him.
It’s tragic when someone dies, but exponentially more tragic when it’s a child. In the movie’s case, it was the bright and sweet Leslie, who was the one strong beam of light in Jesse’s murky world. She showed him a world of fun and imagination. She allowed him to celebrate the life of being a kid. It’s horribly sad when someone of such great importance is taken away. This is why Bridge to Terabithia is such a powerful family film. Life, whether that of an adult or a child, is full of surprises and pain. For Jesse, Leslie was both.