Australian Council on Children and the Media

Bridge to Terabithia

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 13 (Scary images, themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Bridge to Terabithia
  • a review of Bridge to Terabithia completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 21 June 2007.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Bridge to Terabithia
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes
Length 95 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Bridge to Terabithia is based on a book by Katherine Paterson. The movie opens with one of the main characters Jess (Josh Hutcherson), doing a long training run for a big race that he is hoping to win. He is one of five children with two older and two younger sisters. His family is in financial strife so his parents are preoccupied and pay little attention to him. He craves the attention of his father but his father doesn’t notice this. The only sister that he relates to somewhat is his younger sister May Belle (Bailee Madison). He is a loner at school, and bullied constantly by the other boys.
On the day of the race a new girl, Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb) arrives. She is different from the other girls both in her dress and behaviour. The race is only supposed to be for boys, but at the last minute, Leslie joins in.  Jess is faster than all the other boys and it looks as if he is going to win easily but at the last minute Leslie races past him. Although angry with her at first, he begins to talk to her on the way home and they become friends. Leslie is an only child from a happy home but her parents are writers and tend to neglect her when they are writing.
With parental neglect in common, Jess and Leslie form a bond. They also have another thing in common. Both have excellent imaginations. Jess can draw and Leslie can write. Each day after school the two of them head off to a secret place which they reach by swinging over a river using an old rope. On the other side is a land called Terabithia that they create for themselves. It has trolls, an evil dark master and scary animals.
Through the adventures that Jess and Leslie create for themselves they also figure out ways to deal with the bullies and the difficulties that they face both at school and at home.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

The death of someone close, bullying

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Both Jess and Leslie are intimidated and pushed around by the bullies in the school and sometimes retaliate. This involves hitting, punching, shoving and tripping.
  • Computer graphic imagery is used to create some of the scary beings that live in Terabithia and these attack the two children. They include huge birds and other woodland creatures which the children fend off by hitting them with sticks

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • It is unlikely that younger children will understand that the creatures in Terabithia exist only in Jess and Leslie’s imagination and many will find images such as a giant troll, huge birds and menacing furry animals scary.
  • The accidental death of a leading character (not seen) and its aftermath

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • The accidental death of a leading character (not seen) and its aftermath

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children over13 are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

Some references to boyfriends and girlfriends being in love

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Damn
  • Hell

In a nutshell

Bridge to Terabithia is an appealing adventure film with some fantasy elements based on a well-known children’s book. Its main message is the value and importance of friendship and how, when supported through friendship, people can overcome difficulties that initially appear insurmountable. It also highlights the importance of imagination and how the use of imagination can help solve problems and open up different worlds.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Friendship
  • Trust in others.
  • Loyalty
  • Caring
  • Understanding and empathy
  • Not judging people before you know them

Parents may also wish to discuss how unpleasant and unnecessary bullying can be and the grief and guilt which can follow the accidental death of someone close.

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