Saturday, 14 August 2010

No.52 : The Bridge

Here’s nice uplifting documentary to cheers you up - bunch of folk killing themselves by flinging themselves off the Golden Gate Bridge. If that’s not enough to put a spring in your step the clips of the suicides are inter cut with interviews of those left behinds, sometimes to literally pick up the pieces.

The film was made in 2004 and caught most of the 24 suicides who plummeted off the bridge to their near certain deaths. The director set up a long lensed camera at a suicide hot spot on the bridge and over the months he filmed he gained dubious footage of damaged people ending it all.

The actual suicide footage, although tremendously powerful lasts a matter of seconds so clearly he had to go and find some padding in the shape of talking head relatives who were largely trying to find some sense in the senseless and selfish acts. There is also further padding with long and arty establishing shots of the bridge and of various bridge users which soon causes a sense of ‘is he over next’ in the viewer.

There is no narration to the film and it seems somewhat random. There is an attempt at a central spine to the film in the shape of Gene, a long haired layabout, who pops up throughout.If I was being cynical I’d say that Gene’s story is focused upon because he was the one that they had the best death footage of. His relatives were also quite eloquent but unable to add much to what a pretty straightforward tale of depression followed by suicide.

The point of the film is hard to establish and it’s almost pornographic the way the ‘money shots’ are carefully doled out through the 90 minutes running time. I’m sure the random and uneven feel to the film would be explained as a narrative on the damaged people’s motivations but it’s more likely it was cobbled together using the best footage and the relatives who were willing to talk for reasons unknown.

It would be hard not to be moved by the film given that we share the last seconds of several peoples’ lives and the big finale is genuinely shocking but the lasting impression is one of sadness that these desperate people never got the help they needed.

I would have liked to see more of the other side, the poor buggers charged with recovering the bodies and State officials who could explain why the world’s favourite suicide spot doesn’t have higher barriers or catch nets. I guess the attitude is that if they are going to kill themselves it’s better to do it here than onto a busy freeway.

Almost every suicidee found a positive advocate but for the most part the tales were consistent in terms of depression and escalating attempts to take their own lives. Sometimes suicide attempts can be cries for help or for attention but the guys we saw here knew there was no going back.

The overall feel of the film is of one built around a few seconds of footage with bricks of worthiness and head shaking. The actual effect is one of grubby exploitation with no message I could see.

THE Tag Line : Take Me Away From The Bridge 52%

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