Quick Movie Review: The Bridge – 2006 – directed by Eric Steele

Posted: February 2, 2013 in Documentries
Tags: , , , , , ,

Let me start by saying that this is a very depressing documentary. For those who have never heard of the movie, it is a documentary covering the high number of suicides that take place on the Golden Gate Bridge and the reasons why this destination is the place where so many decide to end their lives. The crew set up cameras in two locations filming the bridge for almost all of 2004. This allowed them to capture nearly all of the two dozen or so suicides that took place on the bridge that year.  The footage is linked by a series of interviews with family members and friends of the unfortunate individuals who ended their lives.

The film is pretty powerful in its subject matter and the way it goes about telling each of the individual tales all linked by the bridge.  It raises questions about depression, suicide and ultimately the morals of filming such material. (I’m still on the fence about the final point. I understand why they feel the need to put the footage in a documentary about mental illness and suicide, but I also understand why many would think it wrong and ‘sick’.)

I’ve seen the film a few times and every time the same two questions have been raised in my mind:

  • Do the families that are being interviewed know that their son/daughter was filmed committing suicide?…. this may not seem a major point but for me on  a moral standpoint I’d like to know. It’s all well and good talking to the family and saying they heard about the suicide but if the family knew that the film crew filmed the death, would they react differently? (that is not to say that the crew didn’t tell the families and friends they filmed the deaths. I just don’t know.)
  • Did they use the story of Gene Sprague as a backbone to the film because he is the only individual the film crew managed to capture hitting the water?…. This is another point that may not affect anyone but myself but it does worry me that they use this story because they have a definite ending shot of the water impact. Throughout the film Gene’s story is slotted into the narrative to link all of the other stories (we keep going back to shots of him walking along the bridge and interviews with his friends.) I worry about this because when you witness the other footage the crew filmed of the other individuals, they never manage to capture the impact, they always just miss it (this again raises the question of ‘why would someone want to see that?’. again a good question. but one that my only answer to is ‘morbid curiousity’)

The film raises some really interesting questions and bring up emotions that are both good and bad.

should this film have been made? – I don’t know… I find it an interesting study on how some people deal with mental illness and how depression can effect those you may not even give a second thought. It’s a film that will haunt your mind for years to come and it isn’t easy to forget.

should you see the film? – again it comes down to your own thoughts on the idea of the film. As I’ve said, I find it an interesting study on suicide while also being an interesting study on how a filmmaker can use another person’s misfortune for their own benefit.

All of this makes it a hard film to summarise with a score out of 10. on one end of the scale if morals come into the equation the film probably deserves a 1/10 but as a study of all of the above subject matter I’d give it a 8/10.   I personally sway more towards the  8/10 .


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