Prayer Focus

The Bridge of San Luis Rey

a.k.a. El Puente de San Luis Rey
MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for thematic elements, some disturbing images and some sensuality

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Year of Release:
USA Release:
June 10, 2005 (very limited)
Featuring: Robert De Niro, Kathy Bates, Gabriel Byrne, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham
Director: Mary McGuckian
Producer: Samuel Hadida, Denise O’Dell, Mary McGuckian
Distributor: Fine Line Features
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Relevant Issues
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Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? Answer

If God is perfect, why did He make an imperfect creation? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

What about the Psalm 91 promises? Answer
“…no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent…”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Five people are killed in a freak accident when a lofty rope bridge collapses. The film details a priest’s journey to discover if there was a divine reason for the bloody disaster. Set in Lima, Peru, during the 18th century. Based on the Thornton Wilder novel, and first made in 1929.”

“From the backstreet brothels and theatres of 18th century Lima to the majestic courts of Spain; from the palaces of Peruvian Archbishops to the Inquistadorial missions from Madrid; and from the sanctuary of Inca shrines high up among Andean villages to the straits of the American coastlines; comes a story of chance.

PERHAPS AN ACCIDENT. Perhaps not. But one thing is certain. Five seemingly unrelated voyagers find themselves united in the same destiny. Five people, on separate journeys for different reasons, happen to be crossing the bridge at San Luis Rey at noon on the fateful day of July 20th, 1714. The bridge breaks, and all five fall to their deaths in the deep gorge below.

Was it chance or the hand of God that brought them together on that fatal day at that place and that moment in time? Or were they, in some way, to blame for what happened to them?”

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—This movie (based on Thorton Wilder’s novel) poses the question: does God intervene in human lives to the point of instigating an untimely death? And does life eminate from a greater plan or does it evolve in a random fashion? The Franciscan Brother who investigates this question by trying to aquire meaning through assembling a biographical portrait of each victim of an apparently random event is condemned as a heretic for raising the question, one that could challenge the authority of the Church and the divine order of aristocratic government. In light of recent events (eg. 9-11, Madrid, London bombings, etc.) this is a question that still resonates in our world, and not one that succumbs to glib analysis. The structural problems with the narrative can make it difficult to tease out the theme, but it is a thoughtful presentation, if somewhat clouded by haphazard editting. It is visually impressive.
My Ratings: Better than Average/3
Chris, age 54
Movie Critics
…C- …the movie unravels at a very slow pace… a noble failure…
Philip Wuntch, The Dallas Morning News
…collapses under script’s dead weight… scenes are so rambling and dull we never quite know what’s going on…
William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
…after watching “The Bridge of San Luis Rey”…I was moved only to find my own bridge from which to leap…
Desson Thomson, Washington Post