The Bridge

220px-Thebridge-posterA few weeks ago, Sean, Matt and I were at a screening of San Andreas, a movie that seemed to do its best to squash California tourism but actually only encouraged us to seek out some baseball tickets (that’s a very sturdy stadium they’ve got in San Francisco!) to a Giants game while we’re there.

By the time you’re reading (curse you, early morning flights!) we’ve probably already touched down in the Golden State and with any luck, we’ve had our first glimpse of the Golden Gate bridge. Now, if you thought San Andreas should have had us cancelling our plans to visit the shakiest of the united states, get a load of this movie:

The Bridge is a documentary about that beautiful bridge in San Francisco that just happened, at the time of its filming in 2004, to be the busiest site for suicides in the world (they don’t mention this fact on Trip Advisor) (has since been surpassed by a bridge in China). Director Eric Steel shot the bridge from across the bay for a full year, and captured 23 of the 24 known suicides during that time, bringing the bridge’s body count to somewhere in the vicinity of 1200. Steel was shocked that such a popular spot, well documented for its suicides (averaged 1 every 15 days during filming), was still not inclined toward any kind of prevention. Training his film crew in suicide prevention, the documentary is responsible for saving the lives of at least 6 would-be jumpers. The film, however, focuses mostly on those they didn’t save. Friends and family give voice to those no longer with us, casting the film with an eerie glow. It’s an honest look at suicide, but for some, it may blur the lines between morbidity and sensitivity.

The deck of the Golden Gate bridge is about 75m above water, which means a jump takes four Suicidemessageggb01252006full seconds before a person hits the water at 120km\hr. That sounds short but is an awfully long time to regret your decision. Most will die from impact; about 5% may survive the initial trauma only to drown or die of hypothermia. Very few live to tell the tale, but makers of The Bridge manage to track one down, and his story may be more haunting than any other.

So, a pretty bleak movie to celebrate the first day of our trip, but I always have love for a well-made documentary. And when I finally lay eyes on this amazing feat of engineering, I’ll be marvelling at its design and span, and mourning for the people who choose to end their lives there.

Stay tuned – we’ll be posting about movies inspired by our California trip as we go, and later today we’ll be checking out the Painted Ladies from the opening credits of Full House, as well as notable spots from Inside Out, Planet of the Apes, Big Hero 6, and Antman, and then Jay will complain that her feet hurt and Sean will wonder aloud why she didn’t wear more comfortable shoes, and Matt will try to placate them both with the lure of San Francisco treats (and by treats I mean martinis. Obviously).


16 thoughts on “The Bridge

  1. kmSalvatore

    Thanks Jay, yeah I love a good documentary .
    I had no idea about this particular movie. I thought u wee gonna be talkin about that scify one ;). Glad I kept reading 😉
    Oh enjoy yourself


  2. ruth

    Oh this sounds like a cool documentary. I love big bridges like Golden Gate, Brooklyn Bridge, etc. I thought you’re reviewing the TV show on FX 🙂


  3. tubularsock

    Welcome to California gang. Whatever you do don’t jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. They have installed a prevention net or something awhile back so they ruined another freedom by the moral society that will put you to death but won’t let you take your own life. Fuck them!

    If you guys are runners there is a great run starting at the Fairy Building at the foot of Market Street running along the Embarcadero to the GB Bridge and over it and down into Sausalito
    and then catch a fairy back to the Fairy Building. About a 12 mile run but well worth it if you are runners.

    If not ………. Martinis it is!

    Tubularsock will pass on this film but did check out Inside Out because you made Tubularsock aware of it. Well, boring ……. same old story, 45 minutes too long but interesting animation.

    Thanks anyway and have a good and safe trip.


  4. joelnox

    This was excellently made but good Lord it was heavy going and by the end it left me with a sense of hopelessness about the situation. I suppose that was part of the purpose and while I appreciated the craftmenship I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it.


  5. drhumpp

    I heard about this a few years ago on CBC, I think it was still being assembled at the time. I have to admit that I’m interested but I think I’ll have to be in the right frame of mind. I enjoyed your review, it’s the first I’ve actually read for this one.


  6. Courtney Small

    I vaguely recall a co-worker mentioning this documentary a few years back. Your review makes me quite eager to check it out. Despite the bleak subject matter, it sounds really fascinating.


  7. V. Rex

    Jesus, this movie sounds like a real tear-jerker. On another note, I remember watching a documentary about Mississippi floods in high school (I grew up in the SF area) and this guy they interviewed said something to the effect of “Yeah, floods are bad but at least I don’t live in California where they are earthquakes.” We all thought that moment was hilarious because earthquakes really aren’t that scary (obviously, there hasn’t been a big one in awhile, but still).


  8. Sarca

    I’ve seen this film a few times. Aside from its morbid subject, it is quite a well-made doc. The stories told are both sad and eye-opening.


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