The Bridge ***
Say whatever you want, but "The Bridge" is a haunting and frightening experience. This is one of those documentaries that is worth seeing on the big screen. It is unusual, and tells about something that we don’t normally think of. At times, it could be a little bit too over emotional, but it’s fascinating to see. We are actually able to get into the head of a victim of suicide. "The Bridge" started in 2004, when Eric Steel decided to make a film about the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. He set up two cameras in different locations around the bridge, and filmed it over the course of the year in the daylight hours. Little did he know about the massive amounts of suicide on the bridge, and that it is the place where most people decide to kill themselves. The question is: What makes the Golden Gate Bridge special?
We then focus on a few subjects, all of whom ended up killing themselves on the bridge. They had no idea that they were being filmed. Intercutting images of the bridge, as well as people preparing to jump and then jumping, there are interviews with the family members. The family tells what was going on with the victims before they died, and what was happening in their lives that made it difficult to continue. One fascinating interview is with a survivor of the bridge, who decided halfway down that he did not want to die. Of course he was badly injured when he fell, but he prevented himself from death.
Steel does present one arc that takes the entire film to get through. I don’t know why he chose this man, but maybe his family paid Steel more money. This is the story of Gene, a loner who would dress all in black, and whose life was hitting a snag. Jobless, no girlfriend, and only a few friends, Gene would pace back and forth along the bridge, debating on if he should end it all or not. We only get snippets of Gene throughout the film, until his final jump ends it. Unfortunately, Steel’s attempt at creating tension does not work very well, and by the end you are just yelling at the screen, telling him to "Jump!"
"The Bridge" is not an amazing documentary, but it is unsettling. It is worth seeing simply because it tells a story of something unusual. I am seriously tired of sitting through documentaries on politics, which is why I always like to scope out these docs with subjects not talked about everyday. The jump scenes are the most heart wrenching, and there are two types of them. There are the close ups, where the camera follows the victim falling down the bridge. And then there are the images of the bridge from afar, where we simply see a small black shape in the distance, and then the sound of a splash. Steel lingers for a few moments at the bridge, and we know that somebody has just died. And there is a creepy aura in the air. . .