Bridge to Terabithia Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Few people know, but “Bridge to Terabithia” (2007) is a film adaptation of the novel by American writer Katherine Paterson. According to the writer, the story she told is based on real events that happened to her son, the screenwriter of this film. If you explain the whole idea in a couple of phrases: a boy and a new girl in his class begin to communicate closely and become friends.

In order to avoid a boring and not very friendly world, they together create an unreal fairy-tale world called Terabithia and spend all the free hours of their lives there. But how did they become friends? He is a rather shy and introverted boy, not particularly eager to make close friends; she, in turn, is ambitious and even too active, as well as a smart girl beyond her years. What did they find in common? No matter how strange it sounds, they found an enemy: a group of high school girls constantly humiliate the younger guys, and Leslie and Jess decided to confront them.

The friendship of the guys every day became stronger and things were going much better than before. But the idyll was destroyed by an accident that made Jess blame himself for a long time: after an unplanned trip to the museum with his teacher, the boy learns about the tragic death of his best friend, who went alone to their secret place. The film ends with a picture that simply cannot but cause tears: without ceasing to feel guilty for what happened, Jess independently builds a bridge that passes through the river, during the crossing of which Leslie died. After finishing his labors, the boy brings his younger sister to their fairy-tale land with Leslie, calling her the “princess of Terabithia.”

What is the meaning of the movie “Bridge to Terabithia”?

Let’s start with the origins – the personalities of the characters. The director’s brilliant move was the rejection of the images of aggressive and indifferent parents, against which one could easily draw the development of loneliness in the souls of Leslie and Jess. But Gabor decided to do otherwise: he showed self-confident and self-confident adults who only do not fully pay their attention to children because of their busy career life. Thus, the guys literally look like small copies of their parents, but at the same time they are fenced off from them by a “wall of misunderstanding and rare communication”, which brings the main characters together.

As for the children themselves, their characters are radically opposite and clearly opposed to each other: cheerful and ready for adventure, Leslie notices the modest Jess, who is in “his own world”, and tries to open him, make him come out of the “cocoon”. But a peculiar irony lies in the fact that even after the death of his girlfriend, Jess does not cease to withdraw into himself and, with even greater strength and zeal, builds a protective wall around himself. All he could do was find an imaginary replacement for his best friend by showing their secret place to his little sister.

The question that does not leave viewers to this day: why did the author decide to kill Leslie? Why did a pure, bright and innocent child have to die? There are several theories about this. The vast majority of them are somehow connected with each other and interpret different interpretations of the hidden messages of the author of the work. But one still stands out from their background and quite plausibly reveals all the hidden motives: Leslie was actually just a fictional friend of Jess. Yes, the theory is quite bold, but there is a number of weighty evidence.

Firstly, the very nature of the girl makes us doubt her reality – everything is too much in her. She is too brave, kind, active, friendly, too cheerful and optimistic. No, we certainly do not claim that such children do not exist. But, as noted earlier, Jess and Leslie were complete opposites, and children of his age (10 years old) tend to create fictional friends for themselves, and with a completely different character than the “creator”. As psychologists say, children come up with an image that is closest and most sympathetic to them, as well as the character of which they themselves would like to have. And here everything converges: Jess, a shy boy by nature, simply needs a “strong hand”, the embodiment of which he found in Leslie, which he himself invented.

What are the last minutes of the film?

“Bridge to Terabithia” – the name of the film becomes clear immediately after watching the final scene, where Jess personally built a bridge to their fairy-tale world. If we recall the first visits to this country by Jess, then we can pay attention to one interesting detail: at the very beginning, the boy was terribly afraid of trolls and tried to avoid them with all his might. But at the end of the film, he builds a bridge to Terabithia of his own accord, showing his willingness to face his fears – the trolls – face to face. Thus, the director showed us through this bridge the inner maturation of the boy, his becoming a more courageous person, ready to face external dangers.

We hope you enjoy our review of the film. Well, if you haven’t watched it yet, what are you waiting for? Forward!

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