has everyone in America has stopped reading?

So, this morning I was catching up on my Google Reader and skimmed through the new content at FirstShowing.net. Most of the time I appreciate their news and unpretentious assessments of film. But then I came upon this article.

I don't have any arguments to make with the designations, as I didn't see a one of'em. But what shocked me was his assessment of Bridge to Terabithia:

I was actually looking forward to this and had heard pretty good things. So, for dinner one night I sat down with my wife and brother-in-law to watch this while we ate. Everything was going fine and we were enjoying it. Then, all of a sudden, the little girl died. We all just froze. Food was falling out of my mouth, my wife was crying and my brother-in-law was just shaking his head. It turned from a nice fantasy film for kids into the saddest thing I have seen all year. I felt cheated and tricked because my expectations were for one type of film when it turned out to be something else completely. Needless to say, the end wrecked the whole experience and all three of us ended up hating it.

Cheated? Tricked? I thought everybody knew the girl dies in Bridge to Terabithia, because it's practically required reading in every elementary school in America.

That's right, sir. This film is based on a book. You know this thing called book, yes? Smaller than a laptop, totally portable, and you don't need any special hardware to read the information(words) off the storage device (paper).

You should check them out.


M. Robert Turnage said...

I remember when the Lord of the Rings movies came out, I had a friend who told everyone he was going to read the book before the movies came out. When they did, I asked, "How did that compare to the book?" And the response was something akin to, "I decided the best way to experience the films would be to just go in fresh without any prejudices."

In other words, he hadn't read the books.

Ghost Writer said...

The problem is more with marketing than anything else. People hated Kenneth Branagh's version of Frankenstein because the movie studio marketed it as horror (in the twentieth century idea of the word). When the movie opened with Robert Walton, a character heretofore unknown in Frankenstein movies, people hated it. If it had been marketed as a tragic story of isolation and abandonment (or maybe if Branagh hadn't tried to screw with the classic by turning Elizabeth into a creature, too), perhaps it would have fared better.

Bridge to Terabithia was marketed as a Narnia-like fantasy. Which it isn't. Terabithia is in the kids' heads, but people can't remember what it's like to use their imaginations (mostly because they DON'T read anymore). I refused to watch the movie after I saw the previews for it. They seem to have commercialized this poignant story of two loners finding a friend in an unlikely place to the point that I can imagine Leslie's death was a major shock to those who weren't familiar with the book.

Another thought to consider - Bridge to Terabithia is a frequently challenged book, so it might not have been one these people were exposed to during reading time in the fifth grade. Unfortunately, most people only read what they are assigned in school and stop as soon as they graduate.

Veronica Mitchell said...

I'm afraid that, as a child, I hated the book for all the reasons he hated the movie. Like ghost writer said, it was presented as something else. When I was a kid, I was told if I liked the Narnia books, I would like Bridge to Terebithia. Big disappointment is an understatement. I've never been willing to pick up the book since.