Bridge to Terabithia Meaning Movie & Plot Summary

A coming-of-age story: The idea behind the film “Bridge to Terabithia”. Bridge to Terabithia: the plot and meaning of the film, the essence of the ending, similar films

Country: USA

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Adventure, Family

Year of production: 2006

Directed by: Gabor Csupo

Actors: Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb, Zooey Deschanel

tagline: “Fairy tale becomes reality”

The plot and meaning of the film “Bridge to Terabithia” (Bridge to Terabithia) can not be called philosophical. However, despite the fact that the painting by Gabor Csupo skillfully pretends to be another story from the life of schoolchildren, it touches on very unchildish issues.

It’s a movie polygon. On the one hand, this is an ode to escapism, on the other hand, a bright story of love and friendship, on the third hand, a fairy tale-parable about the meaning of life.

What is the movie about

Bridge to Terabithia is based on the 1974 novel of the same name by Katherine Paterson. According to the writer, the book was inspired by the friendship of one of her four children with a girl next door. Therefore, we can say that “Bridge to Terabithia” is a film based on real events.

Leslie and JessThe role of Jess was played by Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb played the role of Lassie. Frame from the film.

A brief description of the content of the picture. Jess is a lonely, withdrawn child. At school, he is an outcast, and with family members (especially with his father), he has a rather complicated relationship.

Wanting to win at least some respect, the boy, an excellent runner, decides to take part in the competition. To his annoyance, he is easily overtaken by Leslie, a lively newcomer who has moved to the suburbs with her family. It is also difficult for a girl to make friends with the class, but for a different reason – she is too bold, independent, different …

They soon become best friends. Jess shows her (only her) his drawings, and she tells him (only him!) her stories. One day the guys go to play in the forest, cross the river and find a small house on a tree. It becomes their secret place. There, friends create a fairy-tale world – the country of Terabithia.

Adventures in Terabithia unite the guys so much that they find the strength to withstand real difficulties and finally rebuff their classmates.

Ending explanation

Towards the end, the teacher, Miss Edmunds, invites Jess to the Museum of Fine Arts. Deciding not to invite Leslie with him, he leaves. Returning, Jess learns shocking news: Leslie went to Terabithia alone, but died. When asked by a shocked boy about how Leslie died, the adults say that she tried to cross the river, hit her head on a rock, and drowned.

Hardly experiencing the loss, Jess goes to the forest: confident that her friend did not die, but simply moved to Terabithia, he calls her and waits for her to come out to him now. However, Leslie does not come … Instead, the father approaches the boy, and the wall that was between them finally collapses.

A little later, Jess decides to build a bridge to his dear fairyland, and invites his younger sister to Terabithia, whom he previously rejected. He appoints her the princess of Terabithia, and he himself becomes the king of a wonderful country.

By the way, in the book, Leslie’s death and the attitude towards the loss of Jess are presented more harshly. Leslie’s parents made the decision to have her cremated. It is at that moment that Jess realizes that she has died – and truly realizes that she will never see her again …

Bailey MadisonBailey Madison as Jess’s sister, May Bell Aarons. Frame from the film.

The explanation for the ending is simple. Young Jess revised his attitude to life and to loved ones. What happened to Lassie changed him forever. He became more careful with his sister and much more tolerant of his parents.

The construction of the bridge is symbolic: the point is that Terabithia is still a sacred place, and Jess will always love Leslie.

However, his gesture (inviting his sister to Terabithia) indicates that he has changed forever – he will never betray either his loved ones or the memory of Leslie. That is, the meaning of the ending of the film “Bridge to Terabithia” sounds like this: you need to appreciate your loved ones.

The meaning of the film

The film “Bridge to Terabithia” is interesting not only for the plot, but also for the features of the visual storytelling. The shooting is very different at different points in the story – in particular, when the main characters are immersed in their fantasies, and when they come out of them.

The forest that became Terabithia is almost always shot in close-ups, in vibrant greens and blues, using computer graphics. Thanks to this, it becomes clear that this is not just a forest, but a huge unexplored world.

fabulous TerabithiaFrame from the film.

The museum, which Jess came to with his teacher, is also removed from the general plans. Perhaps the main idea was to show that for Jess, sincerely passionate about drawing, art has become a giant new world: thanks to this, he discovered both real creativity and how to share it with others.

At the same time, the locations that bring the guys back from heaven to earth are filmed very intimately and closely. Such a contrast of shooting allows the viewer to understand on a mental level the dynamics of the inner world of one of the main characters – Jess. He is surrounded by the problems of a poor and not very friendly family, from which he runs away with the help of training, fantasies and drawing.

The picture contrasts absolutely everything that cannot be in symbiosis, and is in constant confrontation – worlds, different people, children’s fantasies and real adult problems. And the bridge to Terabithia is not just a road to the other side of the river. This is a way to abstract from the cruel world, look inside yourself, and see the beauty in the most ordinary things.

This is not just a film about friendship. “Bridge to Terabithia” reveals the theme of deviation and inner peace. The theme of fantasy and its opposition to reality becomes especially vivid from the moment Leslie appears.

film frameFrame from the film.

She is both similar to Jess and unlike him: he is a closed and insecure introvert, she also knows how to build relationships with others. Leslie is not only a friend, but also something of an experienced mentor to Jess. Communicating with her, he is completely immersed in the Terabithia they invented and forgets about everyday problems, although they remind him of themselves.

Leslie’s death sobers him – he is faced with a problem that cannot be solved with the help of fantasies. Moreover: he understands that it was they who caused his problems. Passing through the stage of denial, he is completely immersed in himself and repels people who need him and who themselves can help him. He blames himself first of all for the tragedy – the trip on which he did not invite Leslie happened because of his love for drawing (and in the book – also a childhood love for a teacher).

visiting of museumFrame from the film.

The essence of the film “Bridge to Terabithia” is revealed towards the end. At the end of the painting, Jess symbolically renounces painting. But as soon as he opens his soul to his father, accepts the friendship of his younger sister and leaves the fantasy world, he realizes that all his hobbies can be used.

Therefore, he makes a bridge to Terabithia, draws tablets and signs. This is a bridge between fantasy and reality (and now it is not so difficult and painful for him to go back and forth). It is a bridge to awareness.

There is no hidden meaning in the picture, it is quite simple. Her concept takes over the soul. At some point, each person ceases to be a dragon tamer or a fairyland princess. He is growing up. Everyone grows up – except for Leslie.

The tragic ending is not accidental – it happens at the moment when Jess gets acquainted with the paintings of great artists – and, probably, understands that he himself would like to choose the profession of an artist …

Leslie is not just a fantasy girl. Some viewers in their analysis express the opinion that she is a kind of alter ego of Jess, the image of all the fantasies of his childhood, a sort of Peter Pan in a skirt. That kind of fantasy just can’t grow up with Jess. She leaves, but remains in the bygone childhood and in memories.

Bridge to Terabithia is a coming-of-age story.

hut in TerabithiaFrame from the film.

Similar films

Here are a few paintings similar in meaning to “Bridge to Terabithia”:

  • “Pan’s Labyrinth” (Spain, 2006). A little girl tries to escape from the terrible reality and invents a fairy-tale land. But it is no less gloomy;
  • “Big Fish” (USA, 2003). Trying to understand his father, the hero of the picture plunges into the bizarre world of his fantasies;
  • “Magic Country” (USA, UK, 2004). To please the children of his girlfriend, the writer comes up with a story about Peter Pan;
  • “Where the Monsters Live” (Germany, USA, Australia, 2009). The boy runs away from home and finds himself in a strange park inhabited by no less strange creatures.

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