The Bridge to Terabithia

Put the soul on a protein diet of rich imagination, and you can change your world. This is the message brought to you by Disney's latest offering, The Bridge to Terabithia. Based on Katherine Paterson's 1978 Newbery Award-winning novel of the same name, Terabithia bears the hallmarks of a Disney movie: main character Jess Aaron (Josh Hutcheron) is stripped of his source of security--best friend Leslie Burke (Annasophia Robb) dies suddenly--and has to negotiate the world on his own.

If Disney grants mom and dad a stay of execution this time
around, it's because they're essentially absent from this junior-high-school kid's life anyway.

Leslie's drowning as she tries to cross a river via rope to visit the fantasy land of Terabithia that she and Jess have created of the forest outside their rural town comes as suddenly as the movie as it might in real life. The event brings some long overdue family attention too Jess, but the challenge he faces is his alone.

Just as Leslie taught him to open his heart and mind to all possibilities in life--to transform bullies into imaginary monsters in Terabithia and to eventually find a point of connection with these bad guys--with imagination that life might be good and fun, beautiful and silly, he must find the possibilities that emerge from this death. He must apply these lessons to his relationship to his little sister May Belle. To his parents. To the other kids at school.

Jess makes his way from the land of grief and loneliness to a place of peace; he's claimed his pain and grown, painfully, from it. His parents have a better sense of their son now and, in the movie's interlude into the world of theology--just about unheard of in Disney--a kinder sense of their God. God is not a miserable keeper of spiritual books but a loving father who embraces his children for exactly who they are. God travels the same road as Mr. Aaron, apparently.

Terabithia captures the misery of junior high life with an ironic, humorous accuracy that is cathartic for anyone who has longed to rip the pages of those years from the scrapbook of memory but never succeeded in doing so. The movie captures the pain of being the misfit with painful accuracy. Terabithia is a world above and beyond that grief that is full of fun and love and acceptance. It is a world colored by pure imagination. It's a good, clean, wholesome thing. Thank you, Disney.


  1. Isn't it nice that Disney as a company has overcome the bias of its founder, and now includes God in its stories? First The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and now Terabithia. It's not that God must be portrayed next to Donald Duck, but that omitting Him so completely dishonored the belief system of a large majority of us.

  2. Once you stick the boss in the ice box, it's amazing what you can accomplish! You know, Greg, God is strangely imposed on that movie, and that's always fun because, as the saying goes, bidden or unbidden, God is among us. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.


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