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Koch Lorber presents
The Bridge (2006)

"It's a long way down to the water."
- the last words of a Golden Gate Bridge jumper

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: July 19, 2007

Director: Eric Steel

MPAA Rating: R for disturbing content involving suicide, and for some language
Run Time: 01h:34m:16s
Release Date: June 12, 2007
UPC: 741952312291
Genre: documentary


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B+B-C+ C

DVD Review

Among artists, the unintended consequences for architects can be particularly public and grim—who would imagine that a majestic structure like the Golden Gate Bridge would be so especially well suited for killing yourself? Well, the depressed and suicidal, for one; the San Francisco and Marin County authorities, for another; and the makers of this galvanizingly grim documentary, that's for sure.

Filmmaker Eric Steel and his crew shot footage of the bridge round the clock for a year, and the most disturbing footage here makes this sort of a cinema vérité snuff film—they've captured the images of a number of people plunging to their deaths, though the movie is about much more than found footage of the suicidal. Along with shooting reams of video, the production team interviews the friends and loved ones of those who had decided to end it all; each individual gets their story told, but there's no denying the similarities: the depression, the threats, the history of mental illness, the eerie calmness before their ultimate action. The family rifts and ancient disputes are each singular, of course—unhappy families are each unhappy in their own way—but everybody knows how these stories end, and so a lot of this movie has that slow-motion-drive-past-the-car-wreck feel: you don’t want to look, but you can’t help but look. It can be excruciating to hear their stories as we watch footage of someone they love make the final decision to end it all and plummet into the bay. Especially odd and poignant are the interviews with the witnesses, typically tourists taking snapshots of one another under the majestic arches only to have their holiday souvenirs become unintentional crime scene exhibits.

After watching this for a while, you can't help but meditate on the filmmakers' role, as they keep the cameras running as people kill themselves. It's a question for documentarians that dates back at least to Nanook of the North: should they keep shooting, or should they be calling 911? And ultimately what sort of sustained darkness must you have in your character to work on a project like this for a year or more? (These are questions no doubt not to be answered in a DVD review.) It's a rough documentary to watch, and I don't know that it illuminates that much about its subject—admittedly, though, when you're starting from so dark a place, that's a mighty tall order.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Steel and his crew deserve credit for finding some visual interest for us, by playing around with speeds and camera angles. The transfer is a reasonable if unimpressive one.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The audio quality of the interviews varies, and the music on the soundtrack is at times laid on a little thick. It's good to have English subtitles available for this one.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Raining Stones, Our Brand is Crisis, The Five Obstructions, Blessed By Fire, Love
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: In a making-of piece (19m:02s), Steel discusses his inspiration for the film coming from an article that ran in The New Yorker, and the crew goes over the ghoulish shoot, during which they tried to gauge potential jumpers as they kept the cameras running. Quite poignant too is a PSA for suicide prevention from Kevin Hines, who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and survived.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

When the subject of a film is a year's worth of suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge, its audience tends to be most self-selecting. Your mileage may vary.

 


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