Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Bridge - Review

In 2004, 24 people jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and killed themselves. These filmmakers had cameras on the bridge the whole time, and they have video of these people jumping to their deaths.

Death porn. Yes it is. You're watching people die. Without that footage this movie never exists. Some people have tried to defend this movie by saying it's more than that, that the footage is beautiful and carries more meaning. No. It's people dying and that's why we watch it, otherwise it becomes a lecture on suicide and the families that have gone through it.

The movie discusses schizophrenia and depression, and that part is interesting. But, again, the draw here is that footage.

The most interesting part of the movie is the guy who was bipolar, jumped, and survived. Very rare. Never happens. He tells the story and as soon as he lets go of the barrier it hits him, "I don't want to die." He calls it "very scary" and "wild." No shit! He got to commit suicide, fly, go through an experience like that, and then he got a mulligan. Crazy.

Another guy they follow was just waiting for his mother to die so he could commit suicide. Everyone knew it. With a lot of these jumpers, that's the most incredible thing: their friends and family have gotten to that point where they've given up on trying to save them. Hard as that sounds to believe, that was their reality. So this one guy finally jumps—his was the most dramatic. Others jumped like they were jumping into a swimming pool, like there were going to live. This guy stood up on the railing facing away from the water and just let himself fall backwards. Never flailed. He had been depressed his whole life. Now it was a lack of a job that had him (his mother had eventually died of cancer), although he clearly had psychological issues his whole life. On the answering machine, that very day, there was a message telling him he had gotten the job he had wanted so bad. His friend: "If he would have waited just one more day . . ."

Mindy did not like this movie. It's depressing. It shows real people ending their lives. It's disturbing. But it makes you think. Exposes you to the reality that people are living every day with mental illness. I'm tempted to quote a writer who once said of why he wrote, "To comfort the disturbed and disturb the comforted," but it's really not appropriate. This will disturb everyone equally, and not in an instructive, growth-inducing way.

The movie is part Faces of Death, part suicide lecture, part loving tribute to those who have passed.


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