‘The Bridge’: A sobering experience on a beautiful backdrop

The Golden Gate Bridge is the picturesque setting for many suicides each year.  Eric Steel captures a number of people making the final plummet to their death, in his new documentary The Bridge. ( www.sunna.info)

The Golden Gate Bridge is the picturesque setting for many suicides each year. Eric Steel captures a number of people making the final plummet to their death, in his new documentary The Bridge. ( www.sunna.info)

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Mysterious. Dark. Sardonically humorous at times and curiously satisfying. The Bridge captures a side of the Golden Gate Bridge that locals may or may not always consider.

In 2004, producer and director Eric Steel and cast set up cameras fixed on the Golden Gate Bridge and captured the majority of suicides and attempted suicides made on the bridge for that year.

The film encapsulates the peaceful beauty of the bridge from various angles, exuding its tremendous mystery and presence through the screen, then suddenly, someone makes the 220-foot plunge into the bay, creating a gasp-drawing splash.

Steel takes the audience into the lives of a few jumpers by interviewing friends and family members who generously share their anecdotes of the people they knew, as well as random people who happened to witness some of the incidents themselves.

The film began to drag halfway through, failing to hold the audience’s attention with uninteresting portions of those interviewed and boring anecdotes in between shots of the bridge and potential jumpers. A handful of audience members, myself included, stepped out of the theater for a moment with the sentiment that nothing major would be missed by doing so.

Steel focused on one of the jumpers more than anyone else throughout the film. Gene Sprague had the most dramatic, cinema-graphic appeal. He was fair skinned, had black hair, and was clad in black leather. The contrast of this man pacing across the bridge, with his long, black hair whirl-pooling in the wind on that clear, sunny day did make an endeavoring statement, but became boring and perhaps cheapened after a while. It was as though Steel glorified the images of Sprague’s final moments on earth just because it made for good onscreen appeal. The interviews of his friends were erroneously used the most throughout the film. There were no indications that his story was any more significant than the other jumpers, Sprague was just more dramatic looking than everyone else filmed on the bridge.

There were a few moments of humor for those sardonic enough to muster a laugh during such a serious matter. One scene showed a jumper who had a hard time getting over the railing, drawing shameful giggles throughout the theater. Once the man overcame the obstacle of his belly and got over the railing to land on the ledge that borders the outer part of the bridge, he slips and loses his balance a few times. In where some of the audience loses containment of their laughter and others look around angered and offended that there are people laughing.

The Bridge is definitely worth watching. For what it is, I wouldn’t say it’s a must to watch in theaters aside from the fact the shots of the bridge and the people falling look a lot better on the big screen.

“It is a movie about the human spirit in crisis. It is a movie about people,” Steel wrote, in an article taken from sfgate.com.