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The Broken Bridge documentary film


Directed by George Bartlett

Documentary Film Review by Chris Olson


Solidarity in the face of crisis could most definitely be described as a British trait. From the recent tragedies in Manchester and London, right back to wartime and beyond, the British people band together in the tough times, often with an eclectic mix of grit, determination, humour and poise. George Bartlett's short documentary film, The Broken Bridge, depicts these traits in a smorgasbord of footage surrounding the immense flooding which struck Yorkshire back in 2015 and how the community of Tadcaster rallied, but also how they were left literally stranded by politicians and the rest of the country.

Archive film footage is stitched together to create a tapestry of natural disaster, against a booming classical score and narration from locals. The aesthetic is at times greatly effective, especially when the cacophonous news pieces are presented simultaneously, simulating the noise that was being made without any real action or follow-up. Shots of the carnage caused by the rainfall, destroying so much in its path, is also hugely cinematic and affecting.

The music feels misjudged, too bombastic for the most part, and has the effect of undermining the pathos of the sequences and true stories. A lighter and more emotional score would have possibly been more suitable.

It was poignant and devastating to behold the reaction of the nation, who quickly moved on with their lives as the media found other things to focus on. And herein lies the fundamental point of The Broken Bridge. How quickly ties between communities can be severed through lack of compassion, not to mention the loss of faith in those who are meant to be looking after us. The resilience of the Tadcaster locals is admirable, but the scale of their suffering felt worthy of a more comprehensive reaction.

The documentary filmmaking is skilled, deftly piecing the visuals into a coherent tale for the audience whilst letting the heavy themes swarm the atmosphere. It's a short documentary that manages to take a potent shot at the perception of the human spirit, how it varies depending on its motivation. The newsreel approach felt like a candid way to make such a point, feeling hugely familiar, so that the message would not be instantly recognisable for the viewer. A touch more prowess when it comes to the overall make-up of the film, and this could have been a formidable piece of filmmaking.

Watch the official movie trailer for The Broken Bridge below...


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