The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic structure, an engineering masterpiece, a triumph of human ingenuity and muscle over the elements. A symbol of San Francisco, the West, freedom–and something more, something almost spiritual but impossible to describe.
More people choose to end their lives at the Golden Gate Bridge than anywhere else in the world. The sheer number of deaths there is shocking but perhaps not altogether surprising. If one wants to commit suicide, that is, there is an eerie logic in selecting a means that is almost always fatal and a place that is magically, mysteriously beautiful.
The director and crew spent all of 2004, an entire year, looking very carefully at the Golden Gate Bridge, running cameras for almost every daylight minute, and filming most of the two dozen suicides and a great many of the unrealized attempts. In addition, the director captures nearly 100 hours of incredibly frank, deeply personal, often heart-wrenching interviews with the families and friends of these suicides, with witnesses who were walking, biking, or driving across the bridge, or surfing, kiteboarding, or boating underneath it, and with several of the attempters themselves.
The Bridge offers glimpses into the darkest, and possibly most impenetrable corners of the human mind. The fates of the 24 people who died at the Golden Gate Bridge in 2004 are linked together by a 4 second fall, but their lives had been moving on parallel tracks and similar arcs all along.
Looming behind these stories is the Golden Gate Bridge itself, a monument that mirrors our highest aspirations and our lowest natures. We are uncomfortable with the grim realities suicide forces us to confront. We'd rather not see the mentally ill; we'd prefer suicides to be invisible–or at least to take place in hotel bathrooms, barns, dorm rooms and closets.
The Bridge is a visual and visceral journey into one of life's gravest taboos.