“On the Bridge” (“Sur le pont”)
Screened at the Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (5/5); Letterboxd (10/10)
What exactly happens at the end of life? As we transition from this world to whatever comes next, what can we realistically expect? And how long does the process take – if time even means anything at that point? That’s what this insightful and fascinating animated documentary seeks to capture, combining the insights and speculation of individuals at the end of life, recorded in their own words from their homes or while in palliative care centers. Their observations span the spectrum of topics, from what they remember most about life to what they’re leaving behind to what they’re looking forward to and trying to imagine how that will unfold. Their moods range from ennui to hope to humor as they envision what’s ahead and how it will come into being. Much of this is set aboard a train where the passengers present their perceptions as it makes its way to a trestle crossing a river, the point of transition where it comes to a stop and the travelers begin the last leg of their journeys to whatever awaits them. All of this is presented through stunningly gorgeous animation backed by an ethereal score and, of course, the narrated reflections of the wayfarers making their final pilgrimages. Directors Samuel and Frédéric Guillaume have created a beautifully moving, eminently enlightening work that’s positively striking to look at. This is essential viewing for anyone who wonders what comes at the end of the line and how to properly prepare for it. If you’re not profoundly touched by this offering, I don’t know what will.