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This is my old blog, which I no longer update. Feel free to browse around old posts and such, but the much more recent version of my ramblings are to be found at MarilynAnneCampbell.com

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Baffled by Terabithia

If you haven't seen The Lion King know that you should, then skip to the next paragraph. If you have -- remember the really sad scene? The one after the wildebeast stampede, where Simba goes down into the valley and he's nudging Mufasa but nothing's happening? When I saw that movie in the theatre, the whole place was perfectly silent during that scene -- Perfectly silent until one small voice asked, "Daddy, why isn't he waking up?".

I'm worried some parents may find themselves in the same awkward position as that father if they take young children to see Bridge to Terabithia. I haven't seen the movie of course, but I have read the book. I won't spoil anyone with specifics, but all the commercials make the story look very Narnia-esque, what with the discovering of a magic land and what-not. Yet that isn't quite what Bridge to Terabithia is really about, and audience members who haven't read the book may find themselves watching a very different movie than they expected.

This has got me wondering who made the decisions about the tone of the commercials. I wouldn't be surprised if after it has it's first weekend there's a slew of more accurate ads. That seems to be a trend these days -- one set of pre-release ads and a whole new, more revealing set that comes after. I'm not sure of the marketing logic behind it, but I guess someone must have figured out that it works somehow.

It all reminds me of my second year studying screenwriting, when I was happily working away on a script that had a major twist at the end of the first act. I worked happily, that is, until the moment I realized there would be no way to advertise the film without giving away the twist. The bored audience would spend the first twenty minutes waiting for my main character to catch on to the very thing that had brought them into the theatre, and my marvelously clever rocking of their world!!! would fall flat.

It's been a long time since I begrudgingly rewrote that script and an even longer time since I read Katherine Patterson's novel that first brought Terebithia into the world. I'm sure the film is excellent and I'm sure it will do wonderfully well at the box office, but still I wonder about what almost seems a trick to get folks into the theatre in the first place. I doubt anyone will be disappointed, but there may be far more awkward post-movie conversations with youngsters than many parents were planning for.

Quick Link
Disney's Official Terebithia site


  1. Good observations...how young is too young in your opin? (my 11 year olds are hankering to go)

  2. Hey, thanks for stopping in.

    I'm not sure what age to say might be too young; as long as parents realize a good deal of the story happens in the real world where at times things are, um, less than magical.

    But certainly 11 year olds should be fine - from what I've heard I imagine they'll love it!

    (If you do see it please feel free to let me know what all of you thought - I'd be curious to hear their reaction, and yours)

  3. I'm going to do a post but let's just say they were p*ssed.

    Even with the heads up that it was perhaps more dramatic/serious than they might be expecting, they felt totally misled and burned by the heavy plot turn at the end.

    Otherwise spoiling a decent movie, I'd say.

  4. Oo, I'm sorry to hear they were still so upset. I look forward to reading your post for more details.

  5. Hi, Marilyn! That's a tough one. I don't envy studios that struggle to create appealing trailers that will draw in the audience while still being able to a) keep most of the good stuff under wraps, and b) adhere to the actual spirit of the film itself. It's one of the reasons why my husband and I won't view a film's trailer (or at least anything more than two seconds of it) before seeing the movie itself.

    I remember my mom telling me that she kept me from watching "E.T" for months after it first came out because the trailer made the film out to be really scary. She finally went to see it herself, then dragged me to see it. I then dragged her to see it another eight times. ;-)


  6. Hey Marjorie

    Well, I'm glad you finally got to see E.T.!

    It sounds like a good system you and your husband have, but I dom't think I could pull it off myself. Sometimes I'm just too curious to wait.

    How do you decide what to see? Word of mouth, or...? I'm wondering because I'm often even more wary of reveiwers than I am of marketers (even though I've done some online reviewing in the past.)