‘The Bridge’


In his ghoulish documentary, director Eric Steel examines the Golden Gate’s dubious honor as the world’s most popular suicide destination. Steel trained cameras on the bridge throughout 2004, watching for jumpers; 24 people obliged. In most cases, the director has the last pathetic snippet of the jumper’s life on tape: a tiny human blur plummeting out of the frame, followed by an off-camera splash and—nothing. In their wake, the movie dutifully visits survivor after survivor—dazed roommates, stunned family, unlucky witnesses. But the banal remembered particulars are less upsetting—and less revealing, in a suggestive way—than the affectless glimpses of the soon-to-be-departed through Steel’s long-range lenses. They could be anyone else on the bridge, right up to the moment they bypass some circuit breaker of survival instinct that keeps the rest of us on the other side of the rail. Equally disturbing, in this context, are the shots of unidentified tourists, walkers, and gawkers who stop to look over the side, then pause just a second longer—plainly hearing, if only for an instant, the siren song of the undertow.

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