Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Cognitive Dissonance

Oh my Lord! What have they done to Bridge to Terabithia!?

Just before I signed off for 18 months, I mentioned that Walden Media was picking some excellent properties for feature films, relying on smart children's literature instead of the dumb snotty-kids-and-booger-jokes that usually accounts for kids' movies. So the Newbery Award-winning Bridge to Terabithia is a great choice. But to look at the trailer, it seems they've turned the book into a Narnia-style fantasy. (Perhaps not entirely unexpected, since there is a very slim Narnia connection in the story.) If you watched American Idol last night, the TV spot seemed to highlight the fantasy elements even more.

But if you've ever read the book, you know that there's not a bit of fantasy anywhere in it. Sure, the two main characters create a make-believe land out in the woods, but it's clearly pretend play like all kids do, and it's a minor part of the story. They certainly do not enter a magical land like Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy.

(Spoilers ahead, so turn back now if you wish . . . )

The book, by prolific children's author Katherine Paterson, very sensitively addresses the issue of death as the boy, Jess, copes with the loss of his new friend, Leslie. Paterson even touches on the issue of salvation and eternal life as Jess worries about whether Leslie will go to heaven.

That's pretty much the meat of the story right there. It's not a Narnia-style fantasy at all. Which means that either Walden has drastically altered the story, or the trailers are very misleading. I am hoping it's the latter, because a faithful film adaptation of Bridge to Terabithia should be a winner.

(But if they changed anything about the story, let's hope they changed the time period from the 70s to something a bit less hippie-influenced.)


At 4:15 PM, Blogger Abigail Brayden said...

Drew, I completely agree with your surprise at all the beasts :)
I saw the big screen preview for Terebinthia when I went to see Charlotte's Web (a great movie, by the way) and I thought "Oh man, I bet just the preview for this is going to make my mom cry!" But then it was like watching a Jumaji wasn't so much crying. It might just be that they are emphasizing the fanatsy element in the early trailers to get people's attention. But we'll find out soon...


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