I watched two fantastic (and fantastically different) documentaries this weekend, so I’ve decided to make this post a hybrid review of both.
First, there was The Bridge, a morbid (and controversial) yet fascinating look at those that decide to end their lives by jumping off of the Golden Gate Bridge.
For a year, director Eric Steel aimed his cameras at the majestic and iconic bridge, capturing nearly two-dozen suicides and an equally high number of prevented or failed attempts. Switching between long, beautiful shots of the bridge and close, almost biographical shots of those teetering on the edge of life, it juxtaposes the two sides of the bridge perfectly, and you find yourself engulfed by a landmark with a personality all its own.
The Bridge also features interviews with the friends, family, and loved ones of each jumper, and attempts to explain the story and the history of those featured. You slowly begin to understand a little bit of what each person was going through, and you can see their affect on those around them.
And then they jump.
If the thought of watching someone end his or her life in front of an unknown eye disturbs you, then this film is definitely not for you; but if you’re interested in trying to understand what someone goes through at the lowest of lows, then I can’t think of a better way to do it.
Second, there was King of King: A Fistful of Quarters, a humorous and touching look at those that have decided to dedicate a part of their lives to becoming the best in the world at their classic video game of choice.
The two “stars” are the perfect poster children for a hobby that only a select few find excitement in. Steve Wiebe, the family man who sits in his garage and games away while his family stands by and supports his quest, goes against Billy Mitchell, the long haired hot sauce salesman who has held the title for over twenty years, yet struggles to live up to the crown that he has placed upon his own head.
Though a film about video game records doesn’t exactly sound like an attention grabber, this film manages to capture the heart and soul of each gamer through interviews and over the shoulders in a way that draws you in and makes you a part of the action. You feel for the two men and their quest (along with the handful of supporting characters), and you begin to understand how these games can become a symbol of something more than just the record.