A review of “The Bridge” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: Not Rated but could be PG-13 for adult themes and content

Run Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

 

 

Morbid but fascinating, “The Bridge” chronicles a year in the life of the awe-inspiring Golden Gate Bridge, where more people choose to end their lives than anywhere else in the world.

Director Eric Steel trained cameras on the epic span in 2004, recording virtually every daylight minute of the exhilaration and sweeping architectural drama that draws millions of tourists annually from around the globe. The fact that he kept his agenda hidden from authorities has inspired controversy and encouraged nay-sayers to label “The Bridge” as nothing more than a snuff film.

These golden arches are the keepers of dark secrets. Steel captured nearly all of the twenty-four suicides in ‘04 and several of the thwarted attempts. A four second fall from the bridge two hundred and twenty feet down to the icy waters of the bay may as well be solid concrete for the deadly force of the impact.

Steel goes even further with his experiment, having logged nearly one hundred hours of personal interviews with surviving family members and friends and unsuspecting witnesses who were walking, biking or even windsurfing nearby. All attempt to shed light on the indecipherable corners of the human mind and the sheer power of a mental malfunction that will inspire a person to take his or her own life.

The talking heads drag a bit; their stories relatively bland compared to the stark reality of an illegal and spectacular suicide. The real story lies in the murky ethics behind recording these personal descents into permanent darkness and making no effort to stop them.

The footage is disturbingly non-fiction, visceral and raw in its visual influence. The final “jumper” – a flowing black visage – will haunt your dreams for weeks.