The Bridge (2006) Poster

(I) (2006)

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More than just shock value
lfcboy2 March 2007
This film's got a lot of publicity due to the controversial nature of a small amount of its content - namely people jumping from the bridge. There is so much more to this film than that.

Yes, its shocking, yes its heartbreaking but by talking to the families and friends of the jumpers there is a tremendous insight into the true ramifications of suicide. Some families/friends come to terms with it, some don't. Some realise that their friend/relation is now at peace, while some are angry at the selfishness of it. I found a lot of the film life affirming, it also features a survivor and someone who was rescued at the last moment. This really isn't a ghoulish film.

It's an excellent documentary that makes no judgements. All it does is spotlight something in society that we don't like to talk about in an intelligent, compassionate and unbiased way. There is so much more to this film than just the shock value, hopefully people will see that.

For what its worth I felt that by deciding to take their own lives in a public forum the jumpers had forgone the right to privacy in their final moments. I didn't feel like a voyeur. I recommend this film very highly.
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Courageous and painful
Michael Fargo27 October 2006
It's interesting where people choose to target their criticism of this film. Whether the director was there with his camera or not, the individuals would have done what they did. If setting up a camera to record the acts is morally questionable, is talking about it? Reporting it? Discussing it? It's clear that many don't want to face this issue for a variety of reasons that are both universal and specific to the Bay Area. Suicide is a difficult subject and whatever your point of view—"it's a sin" or "it's a release"—the interviews that the director exacts from survivors (in every sense of the word in one case) are the real soul of this movie.

People don't want to talk about it and communities don't want to take responsibility for those faced with mental illness. In the Bay Area there has been a controversial proposal to fence the Bridge so that it won't be so "easy" for the suicidal. This film makes it clear there's nothing easy about jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

The film doesn't raise the barricade controversy and the fact that there are patrols on the Bridge to identify those at risk. I think that was a wise choice because what the movie ends up being about is the sad, horrifying fact that those who leave their families or friends (or their communities at large) leave misery and apprehension and doubt. Perhaps, that's the point. Unable to cope with their own internal conflicts, they transfer it to others.

I don't remember a work of art dealing with the subject in such a direct manner leaving out psychological justification and medical terminology so we could pretend ignorance. From Shakespeare to Thelma and Louise, in our culture there's a false honor given to suicide. This movie makes it very clear that no honor or relief is ever the consequence of self-destruction.

The beauty of the area is so compelling here and the photography is just sensational. The opening sequence in particular, intercutting windsurfers with views of the subject, both the Bridge and a jumper.

As well, the range of people interviewed (casual witnesses, rescuers and the grim faces of family members and friends) is quite astonishing. Just when my gut would relax and I gained some composure, another sequence would start the dreadful realization that more agony was coming, more lives brutalized.

I found all aspects of this movie exceptional. Those interviewed, I hope, feel well treated by the film. I felt like there was great sensitivity and protection offered by the director. No one is blamed. There is no agenda for fences or better parenting or increased funding for mental health. The cinematography extraordinary. The soundtrack was perfect with the exception of the final song. It didn't have the weight of what preceded it. I'm not sure anything could have captured in summary what we had just seen.

I did find it hard to watch. Whether I needed to see it is debatable. But I certainly won't fault the filmmakers for doing it. Will it draw more people to jump? That remains to be seen. Will it stop anyone from jumping? I don't think so.

The film exposes the negligence we have towards those who want to die and how threatened we are by their state of mind. In one long anguished monologue, a woman reveals what she wished she would have done the night a friend said goodbye. I hope her message doesn't get lost in the hoopla about footage of people jumping or how the camera came to be set up that year. In agony, the woman states she will never ignore another person's need for help out of embarrassment for herself or embarrassment for the person making the threat. She will act to intervene the next time. And so will I.
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A Curiously Haunting Fusion of Awe-Inspired Mystery and Loss of Hope
Kashmirgrey28 August 2007
If you have ever stood and looked at the Golden Gate Bridge, you know its undeniable effect on the psyche. It is an amazing and (for me) eerie structure.

"The Bridge" is a low budget documentary that delicately, yet honestly presents a common occurrence on the bridge: suicide jumpers. Actual footage of several jumpers is shown in the midst of interviews with loved ones trying to make sense out of the senseless.

Effectively, "The Bridge" is tied together by a single story of one individual whose footage is featured through-out the film to be concluded with a quite dramatic sequence.

What I enjoyed most was the interview and story of a young teen boy who decided he wanted to live as he was plummeting to the water below and miraculously survived.

One portion of the film that I would have preferred edited out was the mother and sister of one of the victims. Their interview became obnoxious as the sister kept interrupting the mother.

"The Bridge" dug into me and clenched a nerve. It will stay with me for some time.
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A new age of human matureness in film making
projector_gadget16 October 2006
Initially this documentary hit the headlines with complaints of the company that own the Golden Gate Bridge stating they were deceived that the director and his crew were filming "Great American Landmarks" and that they were merely filming stock footage for the project. I believe this is an acceptable lie, being that if someone posed you a question asking if they could film your property because of the notoriety of the popularity of it as a suicide spot, you would decline the offer! That aside, this documentary does feature real deaths and (in the press screening I attended in the UK) they are uncensored-albeit a large splash rather than blood splatter, which is not brilliant viewing material for those of weak dispositions, but does cause very interesting discussion points around the reason as to why those who choose to jump do so. We are subjected to watch a number of jumpers of various ages plunge the four seconds to their death by means of a hand-held camera from a distance. As filmmakers, a moral question is raised as to why they just filmed the jumpers and didn't prevent it from happening. My understanding of this is that the director did actually prevent the majority from jumping (evident in the film) but others were simply too quick to save. One of the witnesses interviewed from the reported 100 hours + of film stock, actually comments as to why he photographed a woman about to jump before attempting to save her. He says that any nature film cameraman would carry on filming, even if a tiger was running straight at them as a) objectively this makes brilliant aesthetics for the finished product and b) looking upon any act through a viewfinder makes any event slightly unreal and psychologically you are compelled not to anything until 'reality' slaps you in the face! Watching the documentary some of the suicides (especially those shot static, long distance) look like they were captured 'by accident'.

The witnesses interviewed in the film, including some of the jumper's parents and close family, are very brave to give their thoughts and opinions as to why they believe the jumpers committed the final act. As an audience we feel every emotion conveyed by their friends and family. The interviews and deaths are intertwined with montage of beautiful shots of the bridge showing it as a very romantic setting, not too dissimilar to the Humber Bridge in Hessle (near Hull), England-which is also notoriously known for it's high suicide rates, but what the Humber estuary lacks is the sheer awe of the surrounding landscape and slightly better achievements of engineering. A gradual picture is built up of the bridge, we see it objectively, as a constant unchanging structure ruling the landscape it inhabits. We are shown the bridge by day and by night, during busy summer periods, during misty autumn and winter mornings, as a tourist hot-spot; thousands of tourists walking across it, people playfully mimicking jumping from the bridge or hanging from it to scare their friends, visitors painting it, as a working bridge; workmen climbing it for maintenance and drivers going to and from work. The observation is clear and obvious, again touched upon by the interviewees, the jumpers (like everyone else) are wooed by the sheer beauty of the bridge.

The only flaw in the film is that there is no expert witness (i.e. a psychiatrist or doctor) interviewed which would solidify the documentaries main objective at focusing on mental illness as the reason for getting to the point of giving up and as a by product, tarnishing a beautiful setting.

On a positive note the filmmakers do not romanticise the jumpers in any way, we are merely observing how people fall, (all individual styles), even if we are made to keep returning to one particular person, Gene, a little too often. Also, one the key interviewees has the power to make you laugh and make you cry within an instant and it is this person who gives the strongest arguments towards the reasons for why the jumpers do it.

As a whole, the film does actually achieve what the director supposedly made the owners of the bridge initially believe he was making in the first place-document an important historical American landmark as a living entity! The main focus, however, falls (no pun intended) onto the jumpers that dwell on the bridge. There is a fitting tribute to the jumpers at the end, all being credited by individual name and when they jumped during 2004.

This documentary is plainly and simply a year in the life of a bridge. It should be viewed by all as it is an interesting (if only scratching the surface) piece on the subject of mental illness. It is refreshing to view an unbiased documentary like this (such as Grizzly Man), in an increasingly politically motivated documentary age (Inconvenient Truth, etc). Maybe the reason why this is hitting the headlines is because the truth scares. If any change is to be made, it is the safety barrier of the walkway, although this is NOT suggested once in the film.
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Tastefully done (mostly)
rooprect22 June 2007
Several reviewers have criticized this film for its moral/ethical bankruptcy. They point out that if film crews were at the Golden Gate Bridge monitoring jumpers and filming them (often from multiple cameras), they could have done more to prevent the tragedies. If you take that approach to watching this film, you will certainly be offended.

But I don't believe it was the intent of the filmmakers to make any sort of moral/ethical statement. Rather, they simply present us with an eye through which we see what happens in the world. It's no different from a National Geographic special which tracks a leopard stalking some unsuspecting gazelle and the bloody carnage that ensues. Should the camera crews be criticized for not warning the gazelle?

OK, enough of the ethical debate. Chances are, if you're prepared to see live footage of people jumping off bridges, you won't get too bent out of shape at the underlying morality (or lack thereof). Let me just say that it was tastefully done--or as tastefully as you can do a subject like this.

Interviews with well-spoken, competent individuals added a refreshing, "scientific" approach to this highly emotional subject. Yes, family members and close friends are interviewed, but (unlike Fox News et al) we don't get the hysterical, weepy ad hominem clips. Instead we get very lucid and enlightening insights as spoken by the people who knew the victims well. Overall, it presents a compelling point of view, far more provoking than the usual "suicide is evil, and all suicidal people are losers" mantra which we often hear. If you are a psychology student or if you are in some way familiar with severe depression, this is a great film to watch. It documents the last hours of those who have truly gone to the extreme of mental anguish. This subject has been taboo for centuries, and I'm not quite sure why. But I'm glad to see that films like this are bringing it into the open.

MY ONLY CRITICISM: While most "jumping" scenes were handled well, there are a few which I found a bit tacky. This was due to the camera work being a bit too greedy. When the individual climbs onto the ledge, suddenly we see the camera jockeying into position as if to get the best view of the fall. Sometimes the overzealous camera operator jumps the gun and pans down to the water far ahead of the body. This comes across as just a tad bit bloodthirsty. But hey, I guess I'd get a little excited behind the lens, too.

But really that's a minor criticism. In contrast, I have to praise the film for being professionally done, even with a decent musical score (not too sappy, not too sterile). But really it's the objectivity and lack of obvious bias which makes it a great documentary, something which Michael Moore could learn a lot from (sorry, someone had to say it). Also, just because it's a documentary, don't expect that it'll be linear and boring. The filmmakers were very adept at weaving suspense and an underlying drama which culminates with a truly stunning climax at the end. I must applaud this film on both an academic and an artistic level.
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The polar opposite of Faces of Death
bk-8766810 December 2007
The Bridge is probably the only mature film about suicide I have seen. It is also in a sense a very beautiful film.

The thing that I think ticks people off is that there is no clear message of "don't do it". Most of the interviewed people are at peace with the fact their friends, relatives, sons are dead. They are content of the fact the people who jumped, jumped. And that even if they could have been stopped that time, they would probably have done that some other time.

The controversial footage of people jumping off the bridge simply punctuates the whole point of the film: people jump off the bridge. All the time. People die all the time. It would be naive to think you somehow could or even should stop all that.

In all, this is very recommended viewing for everyone; it's not too graphic, the subject is something you shouldn't avoid and it's very well made. It avoids all pathos often associated with a documentary film that is about a more adult subject.
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Brilliant film that deals with people, not statistics
Jambie674 June 2007
This is the best doco I've seen in years. I know there was controversy surrounding it when it was released, but I don't understand why. The film-maker has managed to paint a 3-dimensional portrait of each and every jumper whose last moments he captured. Interviews with friends and relatives send home the message that no one exists in a vacuum: suicide is not just something a person can do, because it touches on the lives of everyone around them. No one is just a guy who's chosen to jump off abridge: he's a brother, a friend, a son, a lover, a neighbor, etc. It is interesting, too, to hear family and friends of those who chose to jump talking about how they knew something bad would happen, or that suicide had been talked about for a long time. Itsends home the message that, at the end of the day, none of us has the power to stop someone from dying, if dyingis what they set out to do.We may be able to delay it, but we can't stop it.
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Profound, not just disturbing
lesamayes-130 May 2006
This movie should be seen by anyone and everyone who has ever had a suicidal thought. I live in the Bay Area and find the magic of the GG Bridge inspiring. I am also a survivor of two people who committed suicide and I find it most amazing how from scene to scene you can not tell what is going to happen. Why this bridge draws lost souls is still a question to me, but even more so is why we never know. A person walking along the bridge quietly enjoying it's splendor or a suicide attempt about to happen? No one ever knows.

This is REAL footage along with interviews and story so make sure you are well steeled before watching.
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an anthropological journey
tommyspin17 October 2006
what brings a human being to intentionally finish his own life, to commit suicide? This documentary deeply analyzes the dynamics that pushed 24 people to kill themselves in 2004, jumping from the icon Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The movie premiered today at the new Rome Film Festival and I must say I was amazed by the accurate and shocking job the director did, putting a camera for one year long looking the bridge. He achieved a moving documentary that reflects the reality without being pathetic, always balancing the story, without being banal or simply an evil way of being voyeuristic. This movie aims to be almost anthropological in its precision, and really leaves the audience asking questions, they go out of the theatre thinking, and this is a great achievement because the theme itself is more than a taboo. The interviews of friends and parents are beyond easy interpretations, they show how sometimes life can affect human beings and change other people's life, that not always is possible to find the responsibilities or to answer the question:why did he do that? Extremely interesting, strong, but really worth it.
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Beautiful and haunting
christian9416 December 2007
Why would anyone want to end one's life?

This movie is born out a project to film the Golden Gate bridge for an entire year and focus on the suicide (both attempted and successful) and the people's lives that changed forever.

Bridge footage mixed with various interviews make for a compelling case study on what brings people to this gorgeous man-made structure to end their lives and how people around react to such acts of humanity gone somewhat wrong.

Besides the visually superb views of the bridge, the documentary is well put together and includes interviews with family members and friends, as well as passerby's. A particularly moving part is when a tourist taking pictures on the bridge finally gets involves in rescuing a young lady about to jump. Another riveting story is that of bipolar kid who says goodbye to his dad one morning, goes to school for his first class then heads to the bridge to jump. He miraculously survived to tell us about it. Some will not be as fortunate...

A movie that is willing to ask the tough questions and to look at one of our society's enduring taboo.
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one of the most harrowing- and harrowingly intimate- documentaries ever made
Quinoa19847 May 2007
Eric Steel's little-seen documentary on suicide jumpers off of the Golden Gate Bridge is so compelling and somehow horrifically spellbinding in its connection to humanity, and at the same time not exploitive of the lives lost. Steel is also not out to make some big answer to suicide, which would be totally futile (he also, wisely, doesn't include any real "official" types of interviewees like officers or psychologists). His method is very precise but extremely effective due to the focus: there's interviews with the late subject's families and friends, and the bridge itself as an entity unto itself. On the one hand, there are many visually alluring shots of the golden gate bridge, shot at different speeds (sometimes regular, sometimes at 16 or less FPS to give it that faster edge), sometimes in a great fog or looking at the cars, from below, and in a constant long lens that peers onto everyone on the bridge, just regular passer-by or one contemplating the end of one's life, like anything could happen next since it is, in fact, strikingly idyllic. I'm reminded of Herzog with much of Steels' visual prowess, especially in the matter of it being something that is very absorbing in its scenic escapism, but with that the connotation that there's a very great danger about it too. It's part of this that lures people in, by the way, with the leaps to their fates.

Yet the stronger emotional impulses in the film remind me more-so of something out of a Bergman film, where psycho-analysis can only go so far, and the general connectedness between human beings is shown to be the most fragile thing in existence. We see the testimonies from those who were close friends, parents, siblings, one who stopped a woman from jumping, and even one who survived the long plunge to the river. They all are not similar, which is a very important point that Steel has here; it's not the simple concept that many people have about suicide which is that the person is a total outsider with no human contact and depressed beyond all reason. Actually, the latter is a big part of it, in many of the stories presented, but it's never as clean-cut as one would assume. There are people who are seemingly happy and then go further and further into feeling as if there is no end, there are others who are, needless to say, clinically insane (or some who, as a given, are looking for attention in a supremely dramatic way). And yet through all of the testimonies, nothing feels forced in what they're saying, and because of the natural explanations and stories told, there's more insight than one might find in someone making grand statements. There's too much grief in these individuals for that, and despite some declarations of religion having something to do with it, what one woman says about her friend jumping about the "romantic" side of it is accurate: it's romantic only for a moment, until the jump comes, which is no fun.

Steel keeps coming back throughout the documentary to the story of Gene, a black-clad long-haired rocker who wasn't perhaps the most hopeless case out of those presented elsewhere in the film, at least at first. It's evocative of the nature of friendship and of trying to understand one another to see how Gene was seen, at first, as being sarcastic with his "I'm gonna kill myself" comments, and only after things start going worse is there a sense of worry (in retrospect, as it is). It's also something of Steel's most controversial choice in the film (controversial among those who criticized the film anyway) to keep cutting back to Gene walking back and forth on the bridge, like and un-like everyone else just going by during the day. So far the viewer has seen sudden plunges from people who only looked over the railing a few seconds before plummeting before someone could stop. Gene, on the other hand, lasts seemingly hours, and Steel never intervenes or stops the filming. This might be, perhaps as indicated by the interviews from his friends and his mother, that he would have found a way to end his life anyway, if not by the bridge. But the contemplation, the staggering amount of information that we're told about Gene as the climax reaches to his plummet, is what makes it such an impact, because of what the bridge itself ends up representing.

The Bridge is also something that, ultimately, could be of some very good use for people who come across it eventually on DVD or on TV. No one can ever completely understand why someone is totally on the path to the ultimate destruction- in this case to nothingness via the landmark and romanticized backdrop from Vertigo- and the film probably only scratches the surface as to why this or why that. But by putting real human beings up on the screen, by having the audience see glimpses of the grief, despair, resentment, and (for some) sense of peace about what has happened to those closest to them, he makes it a testament to the lives that were lost, and still are lost, at such a place as the Golden Gate Bridge. It hopefully, too, may inspire a little extra watch by authorities on those closest to the railings, peering down as if into some abstract abyss.
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An interesting and disturbing project....
MIDDLEMYATT29 September 2007
An interesting and insightful documentary on a great subject -- one wonders why no one had done it sooner. However, it suffers overall from too many talking heads (family members and friends of victims) who are basically saying the same things. We awaited information on just how the jump affects jumpers' bodies -- medical and technical-type information that would've been interesting, but never came. Great imagery of the bridge and the waters below. Footage of the various jumpers is nothing less than haunting -- and very disturbing for several reasons. Could've/should've been much tighter overall -- but a compelling experience nonetheless.
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The 45+ age group voted this film high....
Rhoelxiel18 November 2006
Living longer having had some experience with life, relationships, and people may lend itself partial explanation as to why the 45+ plus age group generally voted this film higher than the ones who voted with low scores. I'm 52 at viewing of this film and I voted it highly for its documentary information. Not just a film of those who have died there, but is a film of those friends and families left behind and showing their poignancy, humanity, their spirituality as a reflection moving on and living on. The film's interview with a survivor of a suicide attempt from the Golden Gate Bridge is a good addition to the quality of the film. An interesting hearing of what it is like to survive from such a high 200' fall, and the damaging affect from such a fall on the physical body.
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I'm going to take a guess on something about those who trash this movie,
stevenbcarnes-936-29415928 October 2015
and that is that they have never suffered from suicide ideation or attempted suicide, as I have. If this movie makes you uncomfortable, that's great, it should. If you think it's little more than a "snuff film," than you didn't pay attention to almost anything anyone said in the movie. For every completed suicide in the United States there are at least 6 survivors. Among college students, there are between 20 and 200 attempts per death by suicide. This movie is in your face because suicide is still taboo. Families who suffer a suicide very often feel ashamed and even lie about how the person died. It's time to bring this out of the shadows and recognize that there are warning signs and people can be helped. There is nothing sensationalizing about this movie. It is dark and gritty, which is the world those who suffer from suicide ideation live in.
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Interesting for many reasons but if the shocking footage was removed then there would be very little left of substance and structure
bob the moo28 May 2008
In 2004 director Eric Steel set up cameras to cover the pedestrian side of the Golden Gate Bridge. During this year he capture many people walking along the bridge, tourists, people going to work, people taking in the scenery and some people who had come to commit suicide by jumping from the bridge. His film explores the backgrounds and motivations to the people that we see jump to their deaths.

There is a real question within this film and it is one that is only really touched on by one person (not Steel himself I note) and that is the distance provided by the camera as we observe but do not stop the deaths we see. The film doesn't let you build to facing this as the opening credits are a man hopping up onto the barrier and then jumping to his death; it is here where you decide if you want to watch the rest because it is a strange experience where I at once felt dirty but also distant. I'm not suggesting Steel did nothing to prevent people he saw acting suspiciously from jumping but it is hard to have so much footage of the last guy with the long hair in particular and then follow him to the water and death.

The act of looking at it through a camera is weirdly distancing and I felt wrong watching these things while sitting in my warm front room with a reasonably good life, physical and mental health. This distance remained for me in the film itself as I was strangely emotionally distant from the jumpers and their families. The lack of message and structure doesn't help this and I suppose it is a danger of making the film the way he did because he was very much at the "mercy" of what happens as to how his film turned out. If we had had a year of spoilt rich kids then of course the musings would have been very different. This is also a strength though because the film does provide food for thought in the discussions with the families and friends; I found myself thinking about the topic and this is really what you need to be doing because in terms of substance and message the film does rather sit back and let the viewers do what they want.

This is a real shame because it means the most arresting images and footage are the jumpers themselves and it is hard to avoid watching but also not wanting to at the same time. I don't want to accuse of it of not backing up this footage with substance but I'm afraid that is where I am going with this. The documentary doesn't really explore the themes so much as the individuals and the film is rather repetitive. The lack of emotion drawn from me didn't help me get involved in the people and the things that made me engaged seemed to be mostly happening in my head rather than on the screen.

Overall then this is certainly an interesting film but this interest comes mostly from the viewer rather than the film. The suicides are shocking but yet hypnotic and also morally challenging as you sit there as part of a paying audience watching people die from a distance of space and time. The film is nowhere near good or insightful enough to totally justify the use of this footage and, while I think the footage is more than enough to grab viewers' attention, it is not that great a documentary if you were to watch it with these scenes removed – and that for me says quite a lot about the film.
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Fascinating documentary
Ricky_Roma__13 January 2008
I think most people, whether they want to admit it or not, have a grim fascination with death. Part of that is because it's one thing we'll experience but never see (our own death), but it's also because it's become such a taboo in Western culture. The news is full of death, and movies are too, but when it comes to real life stories the final moment is nearly always denied us. And in the rare instance that we do see it, it's usually in the abstract – a bomb blowing up, a building crashing to the ground or a jet plane exploding. Even during 9/11, when news reports were full of images of planes going into the towers and the towers collapsing, it wasn't often that we saw the jumpers. Death is more palatable when it's kept at arms length – when it's in our faces we become uncomfortable.

The power of The Bridge is that it makes us look at these people. It makes us witness their final moments. We get to see what it's like when a human being takes its own life. Now whether this moment is sacred and whether it shouldn't be filmed is kind of a thorny issue. Yes people's final moments should be respected and yes it should be private, but these are anything but private acts. These jumpers take their lives in full view of the public, unconcerned with how their acts may affect the people who witness them. Therefore I feel less inclined to defend their right to privacy.

And anyway, I don't think anyone could watch this film and view it as exploitative. Yes, it shows people jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge (the most popular suicide spot in the world) and yes it doesn't shy away from showing someone's final moments, but the film never views these people as curiosities. We're not asked to be titillated. Instead we get to hear their stories, and through the voices of their friends and family we get to hear why they did what they did.

The main thread of the film is a story concerning a guy named Gene. Intercut with the other stories we get to see him wander back on forth on the bridge and slowly we hear more about his life. Born to a single mother, and heavily dependant on her, she eventually dies of cancer, apparently not putting up much of a fight. From the film you get the feeling that this relationship is the only thing that anchored Gene. When she's gone he's cut loose and finds himself adrift. In response he tries to find love in other places – mainly the internet. But eventually it becomes too much and he finds himself at the bridge. All through the film we see him wander back and forth. Who knows what he's thinking. But with long hair, a leather jacket and a spring in his step, he looks more like a rock star than a potential suicide victim. And who's to say that these final moments are his lowest. They could possibly be his best. Maybe he's being liberated from living a joyless life. And the way he leaps into the Bay, by standing on the support, stretching his arms out and falling backwards into the water, suggests that this might be an act of ecstasy rather than despair. With this one act, all of his problems are over.

But it's quite remarkable what a draw the Golden Gate is. Watching the film, you'd think everyone in San Francisco knows someone who leapt into the Bay. And indeed, suicides happen there all the time. In the span of one year 24 people killed themselves. Why it's so popular isn't that difficult to understand. Beyond simple factors like the fact that the bridge is tall, the currents are dangerous and that access is easy, the bridge and the surrounding environment is also staggeringly beautiful. Therefore the bridge kind of serves as a bridge between life and death. One easy jump and you're taken into the next life (if you believe that kind of thing). It looks so enticing.

But to illustrate how commonplace suicides at the bridge are, there are a couple of times when we see the bridge from afar and then suddenly see a small splash in the water. Someone else has ended their life. Yet the world around them keeps moving. In the grand scheme it doesn't matter much. However, in the small scheme it matters a great deal. One of Gene's friends says that his death hurt him a great deal; he feels betrayed. Another feels relieved. But then in another story we see a man prevent a woman from jumping. Now whether the woman will use this second chance to make something out of her life or whether her agony is just being prolonged is anyone's guess, but it's nice to know that there are people out there that won't remain passive.

However, you could point to the filmmakers and ask why they did nothing to stop the jumpers. But then who's to know whether someone is admiring the view or if they're thinking of jumping? The film shows that in most cases the final moment is over in a flash. But regardless of whether the filmmakers did enough to stop these people, The Bridge is an unflinching look at a difficult subject. It has no answers but it allows us to look at these victims as people. They're no longer faceless. And maybe that's enough for us to give a second thought to others.
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A movie that makes you think about the issues
Chris_Docker8 October 2007
As someone who once received training from the Samaritans – a suicide prevention group – I was acutely interested to watch a documentary that filmed people jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Shouldn't there have been some attempt at intervention? Presumably these were not people in the last stages of an unrelievable illness – the sort of folk who make headlines in 'right-to-die' cases – they were people who were so depressed they just decide one day to throw themselves off the bridge.

The bridge has a fair number of suicides every year and I immediately imagine students who have failed exams, people whose spouses have run off, or people struggling with mountains of debt.

As you might expect, none of the suicides which this film documents are elderly. All are physically fit. There are 24 in all – including one who survives (very badly damaged as the result of the experience). Three of the bodies have never been recovered.

Check out the scenery. A nice view, to say the least. Even if it's not your last.

But the film has quite a few surprises in store that defy expectations. And this is one film that I can honestly say I am pleased I saw it on DVD – the printed notes seem almost a straw to clutch.

Firstly we have interviews with surviving relatives. "The pressure on her had to be worse than the thought of doing it," says the sister of one jumper. You can see where she's coming from. The bridge is a high one. Even if you're not afraid of heights. Jumping off into nothingness is hardly something you could do lightly. We start seeing the people who committed suicide as human beings, not as 'crazies.' Their background. Their friends. One man who was in despair, especially (but not solely) because of his joblessness, committed suicide only for it to be revealed in the film that a managerial job offer had already been posted to him that day. "What makes any of us go over that line?" muses a family member.

Personally, I am a libertarian that supports the right to choose. If someone is terminally ill and there is no end to their suffering in sight, why shouldn't they, after due consideration, choose to go sooner rather than later. After looking into it, I have to extend that principle to include long-term, unrelievable suffering of a physical or a mental kind. This places me (philosophically) somewhere near the government position in the Netherlands. And some of the cases of people jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge seemed potentially to be in that category – people who have struggled with mental illness for a long time and with every treatment offered unable to alleviate their distress. Yet there were not the safeguards – for what they are worth – that exist in the Netherlands. In the UK, if you discuss suicidal feelings with a Samaritan, they will not try to 'save' you. But they will try to give you a breathing space where you can reconsider – and many people do. A more extreme version, where you could discuss the open-ended possibility with a non-judgemental social worker, doctor, and even assistant, rarely exists. In some countries, not trying to stop someone committing suicide is in itself a crime. Only in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Oregon can any reasoned discussion (with the possibility of assistance) take place.

What the filmmakers do is explain how they set up a system. If someone acted in a definitely worrying manner they would make an emergency call to the services that are on constant alert. We see one case of a person being persuaded off the ledge by a passer-by. But the Golden Gate is a long bridge. The filmmakers were not running up and down, 24 hours, 365 days (they filmed for a whole year). There was not generally the actual possibility of intervening. The question that worried me more (slightly) was whether the act of filming was in itself an intrusion into someone's last moments.

The other question – that I admit I avoid (like the Dutch government) – is what if someone is suicidal because they cannot get access to social services? I have met such people. Sometimes, it is not that the provision isn't there, but that the paperwork, red tape or whatever, persistently – over years – makes it inaccessible. For such people (including some of the cases on this film) even the Dutch have no sure-fire mechanism.

But the Bridge doesn't moralise. It just documents.

The film makes one final statistic. It is a chilling one, especially if you have ever visited San Francisco. I remember the wonderful feeling of awe and exhilaration when I first glimpsed the city. Clasping the Pacific Ocean. Joined to the mainland by two of the most stunning bridges you can imagine. For me, it is one of the most beautiful sights, a combination of natural splendour and striking man-made accomplishment. No film can recreate that, although The Bridge does hint at it. To encase the pedestrian walkway would seem a sin. It has been going on for a long time, but the movie has re-ignited the debate about safety barriers.

Because, the statistic that sticks, is that more people end their life at the Golden Gate Bridge than at any other place in the world.
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"Maybe he just wanted to fly one time"
dschmeding5 August 2007
"The bridge" is an awesome documentary about the Golden Gate Bridge or rather the people that each year use it to end their lives. At times its hard to say if the movie is kind of voyeuristic but on the other hand it stays true to its idea and doesn't wag a finger at nobody. I can imagine that several people will be shocked that this movie in no way says "Suicide is bad, mkay" but sticks to showing the Jumpers, interviewing their relatives and creating an atmosphere that hits you even harder than any words telling you what to think. Its an odd discrepancy between the subject and the beauty of the pictures. The jumper that is seen throughout the movie and ending it should give everyone with the wise words of "taking the easy way out" a slap in his face. This movie is not preachy although its ending in words and images are dramatic and close to poetic. I know it sounds absurd calling it like that but its the same question if this movie is voyeuristic. I left the movie with a feeling of sadness in which hope and something positive can grow. Its the same way that our civilization handles this subject as it handles death generally. We are afraid and hide our fear of something we don't yet understand behind cheap headlines and wise religious words. So which way is the easy way out??
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The Documentary that shook me to my core ....
sara-2877 December 2006
Last night, I attended the Canadian premiere of The Bridge in the monthly installment of Doc Soup. I went into the theatre with no expectations, no thoughts as to what I was about to witness. The only emotion in me was fear – fear of the graphic and actual images of a human taking his/her life and soul away from the world.

This documentary wasn't just about the Golden Gate bridge. Nor did it glorify or dramatize suicide nor did it preach you to seek professional help which I found surprisingly. This is a documentary that allowed us in the world of the people who attempted and actually jumped off the bridge. It let us understand the heart-wrenching emotions and events that lead to their devastating and tragic decision. The director didn't have to do anything melodramatic for entertainment purposes like you see on reality TV shows. It's about suicide - that's compelling and controversial as it is.

The strength and courage of family members and friends were truly amazing. It was their turn to vent, release their anger and guilt and let the audience into the deceased's lives. Sidenote: There was a Q&A with director Eric Steele at the end of the premiere. He never approached them to appear on the film. When the coroner had the daunting task of contacting the family, he informed them of the documentary and gave Eric's contact information if they were interested in speaking to him. Anyway, their ability to speak about why their loved ones took their lives would hopefully prompt others to be more vigorous when someone they know is depressed and crying for help. Unfortunately, there is only so much one can do and it's ultimately one person's decision and motivation to no longer live.

There was one character Gene - the long-haired rocker dressed all in black - who stood out in my mind. Gene is pacing back and forth for a good portion of the film and you wonder what he'll do. Waiting and anticipating on his next action - not anticipating for him to jump but hoping he would walk towards the end of the bridge, seek help and live happily ever after. Wishful thinking? I won't tell you what happens so you'll have to find out for yourself. Maybe happily ever after is death for some people … that's a whole other topic that I won't even touch.

The only disappointing factor was the lack of message about seeking professional help if you're depressed and contemplating suicide. But overall, this documentary shook me to my core. In this increasingly frightening world we live today, there's no harm done by smiling more to your loved ones and strangers and asking the simple question "Are you OK?". Don't take no for an answer even if you feel like it's an inconvenience to harass someone who's depressed. More harm is done by just standing there and being helpless. I rather be a Good Samaritan and help those in need than sit down and shut up, going to bed at night knowing I did nothing.
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This movie impressed me in it's way of not glorifying the jumpers.
sign1in23 September 2021
I admit I checked this out due to morbid curiosity, but I found the telling of people's stories to be well done.
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an emotional and heart wrenching documentary
quinndesilets11 September 2021
It's so hard to describe the feeling I felt after this film ended. Beautifully sad, somber. Disturbed maybe.
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beanbrian-5444422 March 2021
This was very hard to sit through, but that doesn't mean it was a bad doco. This was an excellent film through and through.
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Eerie Look at Suicide Jumpers Remains Oddly Unaffecting and Repetitive
EUyeshima10 February 2008
Even at a fleet 94 minutes, this infamous 2006 documentary feels overlong and rather padded despite the visceral shock of witnessing a man throwing himself off the Golden Gate Bridge. This wide-angle, long-distance shot opens Eric Steel's oddly uninvolving study of the twenty-four people who decided to use the fatalistic landmark to end their lives in 2004. Twenty-three succeeded, and Steel's multiple camera set-up captured most of them. In his eerie film, he focuses on a handful of the victims and lets the grieving families speak about them. Apparently, they were unaware that the filmmaker had the footage in his possession, a deliberate decision in that Steel did not want to encourage any further suicide attempts due to the film. At the same time, there is something undeniably exploitative about his approach.

Although the images on the bridge are startling with a sense of foreboding that I personally found unbearable, the interviews with the friends and relatives are not all that engaging probably because their comments start to feel repetitive no matter whom the victim is. In attempting to capture the human spirit in crisis, especially with the presence of Alex Heffes' ("Dear Frankie") melancholic music to underscore the shots, Steel maintains a perspective that feels too myopic since the testimonies in themselves cannot give the full story behind the motivations of the so-called jumpers. Consequently, there is no palpable sense of intimacy with the victims. Moreover, Steel consciously avoids contextual discussions with city officials or psychiatric professionals. They could have lent a broader perspective on the issue, especially when it comes to the constant debate over installing suicide barriers.

The one exception is Kevin Hines, a young man with bipolar disorder who was the only survivor in 2004. Only he is able to describe what it was like to have jumped off the bridge. He survived because he decided to shift feet-first when he regretted his decision in mid-jump. The most disheartening aspect of Hines' account is how he gave obvious signs of his hopelessness to indifferent passers-by for forty minutes only to be accosted by a German tourist to take a picture. The 2007 DVD offers a making-of featurette which provides Steel's perspective on the film, a valuable extra since he is absent in the documentary itself. He and his crew are interviewed to elaborate on their experiences in filming the suicide attempts. There is also a PSA featuring Hines for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
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Paradoxically, banalizes human life even further
K-nightt26 November 2009
Recommended to me by a fellow psychiatry resident, I was expecting gut-wrenching scenes, philosophical and poignant revelations about the human psyche. It left me empty.. I think the interesting thing about the filming is exactly how most of the suicides are shown as just a splash in the water.. even the people shown in their full trajectory are done so until the last second, then the camera moves away to not portray the impact. Why? For the same reason the people who were interviewed distanced themselves from the reality of the jumpers. After all, people pretend to be all-knowing about what goes on inside the heads of everyone else.. if someone kicks me in the shin, they may imagine it is hurting and maybe even titrate the imaginative scale of pain according to whatever past experiences they may have had.. but they won't know how much it hurts to me.. nobody will, except me... And I find it interesting how cavalier even the family members were in their discourse. Similar to the story about Samuel Beckett visiting a psychiatric facility and meeting a schizophrenic. His description was "he was like a hunk of meat, there was no one there". And this is a Nobel Prize winner... Anyway, it is disappointing to see ourselves reduced to a splash in obscure waters or encapsulated within the spectrum of mental illness. It certainly keeps the "normal" people away from such a nefarious reality. Truth be told, interviews with many people who survived jumping off bridges reveal that most of them immediately regretted their decision. The desire for life is present in everyone, but we create layer upon layer of denial and repression to suffocate it.. living an inane life and smirking about random death is a horrendous way to live.. so the question is, what extreme jolt would it take to remove you from your own powerfully repressed psychotic universe? At least the jumpers found theirs... dead or alive.
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A Much Better Source
scotlandgolf200230 October 2006
If you'd like to really learn about the suicide problem at the Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco Chronicle did an AMAZING 8 or 9 part series on the subject. I just saw The Bridge and didn't really know what the filmmaker was trying to do or to get across. It was just a bunch of interviews and a few clips of some poor, ill individuals ending it all. The Chronicle series seems to have a point and a purpose. It starts off with the debate over the construction of a suicide barrier, and you hear from every possible angle the pros and cons of such a project. Podcast interviews with survivors, interviews with families, coroners, coast guard, painfully descriptive details of what happens to someone's body when it hits the water at 120 mph are all in the Chronicle series. Growing up in the Bay Area, it's fascinating that this is such a huge problem and yet you hear NOTHING about it in the local news.
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