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The Bridge [Celluloid Hero]

The Bridge (2006)


“The Bridge” garnered a lot of controversy upon release. The subject matter was already iffy, dealing with suicide.  The controversy spun way beyond that when it was revealed that the movie featured actual footage of people jumping to their death off the Golden Gate Bridge.

A crew of film-makers set up cameras far away from the bridge so as not to attract attention, and also not to inspire anyone. They essentially spent their days watching people walk across, and managed to get footage of 23 out of 24 people who jumped during the year of shooting.  The obvious controversy arose from people being outraged that the crew would just watch these suicides without trying to save people. The movie addresses this, however, and explains that the camera operators were supplied with walkie-talkies to alert the bridge patrol to suspicious behavior; sometimes it was just too late.

There isn’t much of a “plot” or “story”, instead it focuses on a few of the jumpers, and interviews those families and witnesses to gain perspective on why the event took place. The families ranged from devastated to at-peace, and really highlighted the huge differences in the way some people deal with grief.

It’s sort of hard to recommend this film to just anyone. It’s definitely not a movie for the family, definitely not a date movie. I do find myself drawn to things that are more evocative and unsettling. Suicide is a touchy subject, and has affected millions of people, some more closely than others. It brings up different reactions in every person; in fact, I had a debate with my girlfriend when I was discussing this movie with her (she had declined to watch it with me).

The movie ended, and I was left wanting a bit more. A few questions weren’t really answered, a few ideas were left hanging. I did really enjoy a short Making-Of feature on the DVD, and actually got a bit more insight from watching that. As a documentary, I felt like it wasn’t as polished as others I’ve watched. As a regular movie experience, I really did go through a range of emotions; I laughed, I got angry, I was shocked, I got teary-eyed.


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On the Celluloid Hero scale, The Bridge gets a 7 out of 10.

[Each week, Varacchi explores cinema from his own perspective. From indie to foreign to mainstream, he’ll watch it all. Suggestions and recommendations are welcome, leave a comment below.]

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