Ned’s daddy and I actually sat down to watch a film together last night, something we haven’t done for ages. The film was beautiful and one of the best screen versions of a book I have seen in a long time. The film was Bridge to Terabithia based on the Katherine Paterson novel of the same name published long ago in 1977. I vividly remember studying this novel in about Year 7 (long ago!) and I also remember that it was the first book I had read that really made me cry so passionately for the characters. The film also made me cry but don’t think this is a sad film! It is also an amazing story of friendship, imagination and strength; the sadness is an integral part of the story but it is brilliantly handled. The performances of the children as 10 year olds Jess and Leslie are perfect and it also features one of my favorite actresses, the stunning Zooey Deschanel as the children’s arty music teacher. Before I saw the film I was concerned that the trailers contained too much computer generated imagery of the imaginary Terabithians, however this wasn’t so in the feature and I felt it was done very tastefully to give the film a currency without being too scary or bizarre. It was so lovely in fact that I would give it 5 out of 5 on The Movie Show and I’m definitely going to keep a copy for the time when Ned and I can sit and watch together.
Paterson’s original novel won the 1978 Newbery Medal, an award given by the American Library Association for outstanding children’s literature. What I didn’t know is that the book was actually on the challenged books list in the US because people took offence to the fact that Jess says “Lord” sometimes outside of prayer and also because they believed that the book encouraged satanic magic. How far have we come when very recently people have objected to the Harry Potter books for the same reason. Although Bridge to Terabithia is 30 years old as a novel its concepts have not dated and this wonderful movie has successfully given it a new life.
There are many more movies based on children’s books that just have been and are just about to be released. Of course there is Horton Hears A Who based on probably the nicest character created by Dr. Seuss. Horton is a lovable elephant who discovers the city of Whoville on a microscopic speck of dust attached to a flower. Horton is the only one who can hear the Whos of Whoville and so sets about protecting them from their enemies. The trouble is that in Horton’s world there are laws that prevent anyone believing in anything they cannot see or hear. The reviews for this animated version of the Seuss picture book have been fantastic, which is great considering the other films of his books have been flops – although I did like The Grinch. The Age/SMH gave it a tremendous review. I love the similarities between original Horton and 2008 Horton in the pictures below…
The film I really want to see, desperately, is The Spiderwick Chronicles. Based on the 5 book series by Holly Black and illustrated by the amazing Tony DiTerlizzi in which Jarod, Simon and Mallory Grace find a mysterious old book which allows them entry into a world filled with Goblins, Pixies, Trolls and other fantastical creatures. The trailers for this film look incredible and it is also getting wonderful reviews from sources like Variety. Actor Freddie Highmore (Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) plays both Jarod and Simon Grace as they are identical twins; I can’t wait to see how they have managed that.
About to be released is Nim’s Island based on the lovely intermediate novel by Australian author Wendy Orr, first published in 1999 and illustrated by Kerry Millard. The film was shot on the Gold Coast and on Hinchenbrook Island, North Queensland. I loved reading Nim because she is such a strong female character, living on a deserted island with all her animal friends; she is like a more modern Pippi Longstocking. The father of Nim (Abigail Breslin from Little Miss Sunshine) is missing and she is alone until by fate her favorite author (Jodie Foster) a recluse from New York is washed up on the island. Together they must find the courage to prevail over their fears and track down Nim’s dad.
Relating to this post and about the Where the Wild Things Are movie there is a great article from The Age today written by Thornton McCamish about children’s love of scary stories in both literature and film.