Artists' Television Access

[email protected]: Brooklyn Bridge (screening at Noe Valley Library)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018, 6:30 pm, free

Brooklyn Bridge (Ken Burns, 1981) 58 minutes

Before he became synonymous with public television, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns had always intended his work “to be shown on film in a dark room with many people,” as he later would admit. His first major film as a director was shown at film festivals and nominated for an Oscar before it was first broadcast on the ninety-ninth anniversary of the May 24,1883 opening of its subject, New York’s famous Brooklyn Bridge. In one captivating hour, Burns explores the origins and the legacy of the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge.

Brooklyn Bridge is structured as two halves reinforcing a whole. Part one focuses on the designers and builders who ushered the dream of forever connecting Long Island to Manhattan into reality. Because the post-Civil War period of construction predated motion picture technologies, Burns and his team found ways to use other original documents, particularly still photographs and written documents, cinematically. Part two considers the cultural and symbolic importance of the bridge since its creation, using clips from Hollywood movies, interviews with luminaries like Arthur Miller, and contemporary (1981) footage of the bridge in context with the New York skyline. Not only is the film a laboratory for Burns’s then-emerging, now-famous style, it’s also a poignant reminder of an America dedicated building bridges, not walls.

Noe Valley Library: 451 Jersey St, San Francisco,


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