The Bridge DVD

Call number: RC 569 .B75 2007
The Bridge is an intense viewing experience, a documentary that addresses death with a candidness rare in any forum. It is far more respectful and nuanced than the shocking premise sounds, a moving thoughtful sympathetic rumination on the vagaries of mental illness. It opens and repeatedly returns to footage taken of the Golden Gate Bridge, showing it throughout the day, in different weather, following random pedestrians, before lingering on someone who looks like they’ll jump. The effect is to lull the viewer into a meditative state about his or her own mortality. However, director Eric Steel is walking a very precarious line with his repeated use of footage of people committing suicide, running the risk of exploiting the deaths for voyeuristic thrills.
This filmmaker’s dilemma is never discussed, instead focusing on the jumpers and their life story. But how to cover such a private moment in a public place seems like it should be addressed, especially since the audience is a participant as a silent viewer. Overall Steel’s approach is respectful without being timid. There are a few instances where awkward devices are used, particularly when needlessly manipulative pop ballad cues are introduced and when the film plays a cruel game of “will they or won’t they” with the audience in cutting from person to person. Anyway, a few mistakes can be forgiven when dealing with such a difficult subject, and The Bridge’s accomplishments are far more profound than its minor faults. ~ Michael Buening, Rovi

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