Those unaware on and below the bridge were surreptitiously filmed, along with actual footage of people jumping to their deaths. Using multiple telescopic lens cameras in varied positions around the bridge, the crew filmed during all the daylight hours for an entire year (2004). Eric Steel intertwines the visual beauty of the bridge, a haunting melody, whispering fog, and rhythmic ocean waves along side penitent interviews and the astonishing jump footage.
People are also filmed in seemingly salutary circumstances of kite-boarding, boating, fishing, and sight-seeing, all while people are jumping to their deaths. The crew did intervene where possible, calling the bridge authorities to rescue those appearing as if they would jump.
The people left behind were interviewed and include witnesses, families, and friends. There were also interviews with one survivor and others who attempted to jump but who were "saved". The families' and friends' pain and confusion were revealed while they searched their hearts and souls for the answers; but during the course of the interviews they ultimately revealed that they knew and understood the "why". They were not told prior to or during the interview that their loved ones' jumps were filmed. They were told sometime later and watched the film before its release. Mr. Steel comments in various interviews that the families were glad the film was made and they were able to participate in it.
It appears, from many blog comments on the movies' website, that one jumper in particular, 34-year-old Eugene (Gene) Sprague, inspires comments by many who see the film. He has on a black leather jacket and has very long, straight, dark hair blown about by the wind, as he strolls back and forth on the bridge like any other tourist. His friends tell his heart wrenching life story, intertwined with breathtaking bridge images. At the end of the film, he appears to be sitting nonchalantly on the bridge, then suddenly stands up, and throws himself backwards off the bridge.
Watching this movie may foster understanding of the quiet desperation of lives unfulfilled. It may also help people to recognize those who may need interventions. One of the jumpers' friends relates how "He" always talked about killing himself for years, and she just started to ignore and blow-off the comments. Her agonizing feelings of guilt and deep sadness were exposed when she hung her head and tears slowly fell down her cheeks. Another interviewee for a different jumper plaintively stated, if only he had waited one more day, he would have gotten the message about the manager's job he had wanted.
The saddest stories told for me, were the parents who knew how the adult-child felt (Philip Manikow), but didn't know how to reach out or offer help. The one survivor interviewed, Kevin Hines, (from a jump in 2000) was a bipolar young adult who recounts his spiral downwards into the depths of mental illness; his last thought after he jumped was that he didn't want to die. His father was also interviewed and recounted his helplessness in being unable to aid his mentally ill son. He and his father later became advocates for mental health awareness and for a suicide fence on the bridge.
The movie is not sanctimonious or judgmental but rather a melancholic depiction of suicide. Steel's ultimate goal, as stated in interviews and news releases, is to have a suicide fence installed to help stop the suicides or at least reduce them. He captured 23 out of 24 suicides that occurred the year he filmed (2004). Six are portrayed in the movie.
The movie was released on DVD July 2007, and according to the blogs, is available through Netflix. For a brief glimpse of the film, go to The movie The Bridge This next site is an interview with Steel that explores his thought processes and what it took to make the film. Steel Interview