Director: Eric Steel.
Starring.Various. USA. 1h m.
Worlds literally end in Eric Steel’s slightly tastefully feature length documentary which focuses solely on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. For one year the iconic bridge was filmed including every suicide that took place on The Bridge that year with candid interviews of the people left behind.
The film opens like a tourist promo, with beautiful scenes of the bridge, the crew setting up hidden cameras, vibrant wildlife is in abundance, the quiant businesses nearby are lit in golden sunshine, then suddenly a body drops, and we are initiated into the Bridge, a bold unwavering look into the jolly suicide spot.
Be afraid of what lies beneath…
Inspired by an article entitled Jumper written by Tad Friend, appearing in the New Yorker in 2003, the idea was born to make an up close and personal movie detailing the struggles in the aftermath of suicide. Switching between short candid interviews with those left behind, and the actual footage caught by multiple cameras pointed at the notorious site during 2004 which captured 23 of the 24 people who took their final breath as they lept from the bridge. These scenes are often quite chilling, and interlaced between the interviews, you see a certain person walking to and fro, often talking to passersby and looking into the water like any other sight seer, then near the end of their segment, a silent descent. The technique is quite harrowing and do I dare say that it captures the moment? it’s a hard subject to get into for those who aren’t inclined but it’s so en point for us kids who intend to stay sick.
The film instantly captures a somber atmosphere, it’s raw in the approach of showing people wander around, supposedly thinking about their decision or just stopping the flinging themselves off into the abyss, I felt a bit guilty for “enjoying” the movie and the experience, but there is a strong sense of doing the right thing by giving others the space to voice their thoughts and feelings after such a tragedy. They are all bold and incredible people who weren’t fully aware of the true nature of this project and this is where my issues lay.
Eric Steel dedication to this repeating story of death involved so many lies, had to lie to the Golden Gate Bridge committee, saying he was filming “to capture the powerful, spectacular intersection of monument and nature that takes place every day at the GGB.” they were horrified about the true reasoning behind the secret cameras. The kicker was that he didn’t tell the family and friends that he had footage of the actual suicides prior to interviewing them but they are still supportive of the film and are glad they participated.
A little bit of me reels with the deception involved but the overall quality of the movie comes from this community of people who have all lost someone they love, there are a few rescues and a few attempted suicides that were avoided and we’re “lucky” to have some thought provoking tales to tell. A documentary film of this nature is only as good as the people who take part and I can’t help but tip my hat to them for their time and strength in what couldn’t have been easy. Despite how the movie got to be made, it’s a a rare chance for everyone involved to be able to speak their minds honestly about those who they love, something this honest and candid isn’t easy to come by.
What is more controversial about The Bridge is that it doesn’t do much to really help champion the prevention of suicide, which I feel is a strong move, it’s not the point of the project, it’s not encouraging it, and this stand point is one which infuriated a lot of the movies critics but it’s quite clearly something that we need to be mindful of as individuals and as a community.
If you’re a morbid goth like myself or someone who enjoys those dark movies that you stumble on YouTube that show free runners stumbling to their deaths, then you might want to add this to your arsenal, but if you’re squeamish or don’t feel like funding the death train then move along as there’s nothing for you here.
R – Faces of Death (1978), A Certain Kind of Death (2003)
L – Death Flicks, 10 of my favourite Docufilms, A-Z Docufilms,