Over the course of one year, filmmaker Eric Steel and crew filmed San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. The shots captured from cameras set up on parallel shores detail the bridge in its stoic majesty, standing beautiful as the morning fog rolls over the bay underneath and as the twilight reflects red off its steel beams.
The cameras also capture the bridge at its most silent, when troubled souls throw themselves over its rails to death in the water below. These jumpers and the nature of suicide are the true center of The Bridge. With the unobtrusive focus of a nature documentary, the film shows the jumpers' last moments. Interviews with friends and family and passersby on the bridge during the fatal moments provide background and balance to the tense scenes. These stories transform the blurry forms that fall rag-doll off the bridge into people, spotlighting the tragedy of suicide. However, for all of the insights, no real explanations are gathered. None are expected, either. The true reasons why a person ends his or her life are constant unknowns. The only real attempts at rationalization come from a clinically depressed young man in his early twenties who survived the plunge. His first-hand descriptions of the ordeal are numbing. Without question, The Bridge is difficult to watch, but it should be requisite viewing. Suicide is not pretty, but ignoring it is worse. (Phil Morehart)