Saturday, February 16, 2008

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Bridge

Tonight, the IFC cable channel rebroadcast The Bridge, an astonishing, heartbreaking, and brutally honest documentary about people who committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. The filmmakers secretly staked out the bridge throughout 2004 with multiple cameras, and ended up actually photographing 19 of the 24 people who took their lives by going over the railing. This shockingly unshocking footing is interspersed with interviews with loved ones, and stunning shots of the bridge itself.

But it's much more than that. This movie exists in a place almost beyond documentation, possessing the same weird combination of empathy and detachment seen in Gus Van Sandt's fictional Elephant.

Some have claimed the film is exploitive, but I think they're missing the point: The only way to approach the topic of suicide is with clear eyes and the understanding that you'll never understand it. That is, the more you see, the less you know. And that's the point where The Bridge stops being a movie and becomes something else entirely.

Or as one interviewee says:

I don't have any answers. Just a bunch of observations....