Welcome to a Random Pop Culture Top 10! Today’s topic…my favorite bridges of movies, stories and TV. Well, mostly movies, really.
Bridges are cool, right? They represent all sorts of things, and are interesting structurally. I have one friend who is a particular fan of bridges. I’m not really a major bridge fan, although they can be interesting to look at.
Now, the truth is that I can’t actually say this list covers my very favorite bridges. It’s really just ten bridges that I like or remember, or are in stories that I like or remember. So, if you’re all right with that, we can move on.
10. A strategic Bridge in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
In Sergio Leone’s epic spaghetti Western (it is indeed extremely long), there comes a bit where the “Good” (Clint Eastwood) and the “Ugly” (Eli Wallach) run into an obstacle in their quest for treasure in the form of two large armies of the American Civil War, both contending for a certain strategic bridge. Not caring at all about the causes related to the war, the two men decide the best way to get rid of these armies is to blow up the bridge, which they do. In the ethos of the film, it’s implied that though their motives are not heroic at all, their actions probably saved the lives of many of the soldiers in the two armies, who would have needlessly died in the battle for the bridge.
9. A Rope Bridge, Shrek
In Shrek, the titular ogre and his plucky donkey go on a quest to rescue a princess from a dragon. This brings them to a castle surrounded by a deep chasm, with only a rickety wooden rope bridge allowing them access. In a funny scene, Shrek manages to intimidate Donkey into crossing the bridge, largely against his will. And later, after they have found the princess, the group have to run for their lives from an angry dragon, barely making it across before it’s burned up beneath them.
8. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, Mission Impossible III
Mission Impossible III is the best Mission Impossible movie, a fact I will argue all the live-long day. One of the standout scenes is the rescue of the captured Owen Davian from IMF custody while he is being transported across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. The structure is an impressive 17 miles long, and is a great location for the action set-piece. Armed drones and machine guns and explosions galore mark the sequence, which ends with Davian rescued and the tables turned for our heroes.
7. A Railway Bridge, Two Mules for Sister Sara
Clint Eastwood blows up another bridge in Two Mules for Sister Sara. Here he and co-star Shirley MacLaine are trying to stop a supply train from reinforcing their enemies, and the way left to them is to blow up a bridge as it passes over. The trouble is, Eastwood’s character is drunk (necessary to anesthetize him when he is shot with an arrow) and MacLaine is scared of heights (a problem because she has to climb up the bridge to plant some dynamite). In the end, they succeed in a great scene anchored by strong and engaging performances from the two stars.
6. The Rainbow Bridge, Thor and sequels
The MCU films introduced the cinematic equivalent of a long-standing comic book trope–the Rainbow Bridge that allowed the denizens of Asgard to traverse the barriers between the nine realms, and specifically to come to earth. Typical of all the Marvel films (and lots of blockbuster movies in general) the thing looks pretty spectacular, but it doesn’t actually get used all that much. So even though it looks really neat, we can’t actually rate it all that high here.
5. The Westminster Bridge, Doctor Who: The Dalek Invasion of Earth
One of my favorite serials from the early days of Doctor Who is The Dalek Invasion of Earth, an epic-scope story from the show’s second season, which was the first time the Daleks re-appeared on the show, and the first time the show brought in recognizable London landmarks to the screen via some extensive location footage. One of these locations is the Westminster Bridge, where several characters (and several Daleks) are seen crossing. Apparently the production filmed in this and other popular spots around the city early in the morning so that they could appear to be deserted, as the story demanded. The result is some of the show’s most iconic imagery from the early days of the series.
4. Glienicke Bridge, Bridge of Spies
A real-life bridge across the Havel River in Germany, the Glienicke Bridge connected East and West Germany during the Cold War. It was used a location for fictional prisoner exchanges in the works of Len Deighton and John Le Carré, and in real life starting in 1962 with the exchange of Rudolf Abel and Gary Powers. The Abel-Powers exchange was a big part of the movie Bridge of Spies directed by Steven Spielberg–not one of his most celebrated movies but one that I enjoyed a lot.
3. A Digital Light-Bridge, Tron Legacy
Maybe the ultimate cinematic bridge scene, the climax to Tron Legacy features Jeff Bridges (as Flynn) fighting Jeff Bridges (as Flynn’s digital avatar Clu), on a bridge. It doesn’t get any bridgier than that!
2. A Crazy Crumbling Stone Bridge, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
In one of The Lord of the Rings’ most memorable sequences, the nine-member Fellowship of the Ring make their way through the Mines of Moria. At its climax, Frodo and his friends have to navigate an insane series of crumbling stone bridges over some crazy deep chasms. Then the Balrog itself pursues them, and is only held off by Gandalf and his righteous power. The final confrontation takes place on another stone bridge, which collapses in the conflict, leading Gandalf to fall to his (apparent) doom.
1. Rock River Bridge, The General
At the climax of Buster Keaton’s The General, the hero Johnnie Gray manages to cross the Rock River Bridge on his train, and then to give his army warning they need to defend themselves at the bridge against an invading army. In the course of the battle, the bridge burns down and an enemy train collapses with a spectacular crash. The reality is that the bridge was actually built for the movie (in Oregon of all places), to be destroyed in what was apparently the most expensive thing ever shot for film up to that moment. It certainly is a very impressive stunt.