Museums and the Movies: Bridge to Terabithia

June 25, 2015


There are plenty of movies to choose from, where museums feature prominently. In others, museums only make a fleeting appearance, but still those short scenes can often be pivotal. Such as in the movie Bridge to Terabithia (2007), based on a children’s novelof the same name from 1977 by Katherine Paterson. Bridge to Terabithia is the story of two junior high school kids, both considered outsiders by their peers, who forge a tentative friendship and lose themselves in the fantasy world they create. Aspiring artist Jess comes from a financially struggling family, suffers as the only boy among sisters, and is teased and bullied at school. Quirky new girl Leslie also happens to be his new next door neighbour, and the two of them soon become friends. They go exploring in the woods near their homes, find an abandoned tree house, and create the fantasy world of Terabithia which comes to life in their eyes and becomes an escape for them from their daily troubles at home and at school.


But Jess also has a crush on his music teacher, Ms Edmunds – played by the delectable Zooey Deschanel, so completely understandable – who later invites him on a one-on-one field trip to an art museum in the city. Nowadays, this may sound a little odd or inappropriate, but the book the film is based on is set in the 1970s and after reading several forum discussions on the matter, I am assured that a teacher paying a little extra individual attention in his or her own free time, to a promising student from a disadvantaged background, would have been perfectly normal back then. Anyway, about an hour in to the 90 minute movie, Jess gets invited on the trip by his teacher, obviously considers asking Leslie to come along too as they drive past her house, then changes his mind as the thought of spending a whole afternoon at the museum with his favourite teacher is just too tempting. This decision later comes back to haunt him, but I don’t want to give away too much detail in case you haven’t seen the movie.


Apparently in the book, Ms Edmunds takes Jess to one of Smithsonian museums, but in the film neither the museum nor the city are specified. The entire museum sequence, from the moment they walk up the front steps of the museum, to sitting down in the cafe at the end of their visit, is only about 4 minutes long. In the space of that time, we see Jess and Ms Edmunds wander through several galleries filled with paintings, where they linger in front of a Breugel, and later explore what seems to be some kind of hands-on science related display. There is not much dialogue, but you can see from Jess’s body language and facial expressions that he is absolutely in awe of the place. It’s his first time ever visiting a museum. The choice of cleverly chosen film score underlining the sequence, also conveys the joy and excitement he is obviously feeling.

Ms Edmunds: “You’ve been to a museum before, right?”

Jess: “No, it’s my first time.”

Ms Edmunds: “Really? Well, then I’m honoured.”


At the end of the movie, Jess is not doubt left wondering how things would have turned out, had he asked Leslie to join them on the field-trip to the museum. There’s an important lesson to learn from that: always share the museum love!

Image source: Screen shots. You can purchase the movie via Amazon UK (affiliate link), Amazon US, and Amazon Germany



One Response to “Museums and the Movies: Bridge to Terabithia”

  1. Movie Reviews Simbasible Says:

    Bridge to Terabithia should have been longer, but it is so incredibly mature and heartbreaking with many moving moments and endearing characters.


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