Out of the billions of people alive, does the life and death of one person matter? In Somewhere with No Bridges, filmmaker Charles Frank looks back to find out about his cousin Richie Madeiras, a fisherman who drowned twenty years ago off of Martha’s Vineyard. Frank recalls that his earliest memory is the day that Madeiras went missing.
The first half of the film is the discovery of this man who for Frank seems to have taken on a mythical importance. He interviews Madeiras’s family and friends, who recount many stories. Sometimes we don’t even hear the stories, we just see the animation in people’s faces as they share. We gather from it all that Madeiras was full of life, but very much a common man. He worked his job. He loved his family. He enjoyed life.
It’s interesting that half way through the film, Frank admits that when he started, “I didn’t know what kind of film I was making.” He entered the project working from feelings. This brings a shift in the film. The second half is not so much about Madeiras, as it is about the life that was left behind. Frank focuses more on what the life of those who live on and work the sea around Martha’s Vineyard, especially focusing on Madeiras’s son Ben. It becomes something of a paean to such a simple life. It becomes a mediation of what the life of a single, unremarkable person can mean.
Certainly, this is a very personal project for Frank. It is not just a memorial to a family member. It is also a chance for him to discover depths of feeling in himself and his family. It also allows him to find new connections with those close to him. Connections are what make the life and death of one person out of so many something meaningful. The film allows his friends and family to be reminded that the things they shared together were truly what it means to live.
Somewhere with No Bridges is available on VOD.
Photos courtesy of First Run Features.