le pont rouge

29 September 2004, 16:59 genre:    by mickael

The world wide panorama is a panoramist event happening worldwide around each equinox. For this 3rd edition the theme of bridges was chosen. From the minute the choice of bridges was announced I thought: “yikes! takes me years back to my first photography classes”. Then as time passed I began thinking that it was a second chance (I miserably failed that exercise at the time) and maybe I could do something simple this time.

I started listing the spectacular bridges i could have nearby, but couldn’t think of any. Then I remembered seeing a short film some 10 or 15 years ago I wasn’t sure when it was or where it was. I could only remember the movie was called ‘Le Pont Rouge” (the red bridge) and it carried a terrible story of people throwing themselves from it. also I had the intuition it wasn’t far.
It didn’t take long to locate the bridge : Luxembourg some 200 kms away. I decided to allow me one day off to Luxembourg to see what it looked like.

le pont rouge – street view

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le pont rouge

When I got there I realized how monstrous and red it was. I also realized I had a very sad story in mind and only pictures to show relating to past and unseen events. What was meant to be a simple exercise was turning into something much more difficult to achieve. Also, the sky was clear blue, the light vertical and the shadows deep. The hills were very steep and the district below the bridge was now under the grown trees, hardly an angle to be found. The sound of it was also frightening.

Of that day in Luxembourg I kept 3 panos I’m still unsure which I will post on the wwp. Here is my extended submission:
le pont rouge, a suicide bridge in Luxembourg
there is hardly anything exhilarating about it.

le pont rouge – hill view

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le pont rouge

Luxembourg has one of the highest standards of living, there is wealth transpiring from every corner of this banking city. Luxembourg also ranks 14 on the list of suicide rate in the world and it has many charming bridges often used for this last leap. This bridge is the tallest of the country, and is painted red.

“Since 1966 the gigantic arches of the Red Bridge have straddled the Pfaffenthal district of Luxembourg City connecting the old city to the self-important new one, home for the European institutions. Since its construction, the inhabitants of the quarter have slept a little less peacefully and they never walk under the bridge without looking up. They know that anything can fall from the bridge: bags of chips, concrete blocks, dogs and, even worse, man and women. More than 100 people have chosen to commit suicide by jumping from the bridge since 1966. They have landed on the roofs of houses, on the pavements and in children’s sandpits”. (1)

It was not until 1991, after a short film giving voice to the inhabitants of Pfaffenthal that the authorities reacted to this situation, and by 1993 high barriers were finally erected to stop suicide candidates from jumping off the bridge. It took 27 years to happen.

(1) freely adapted from the synopsis of le pont rouge a short film by Geneviève Mersch

le pont rouge – under the bridge deck

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Le world wide panorama est un événement pour les panoramiste du monde entier, il a lieu à  chaque équinoxe. Pour cette troisième édition le thème “les Ponts” fut choisi. Cette page présente quelques uns des panoramas réalisés à  cette occasion:

*Le pont rouge, a suicide bridge in Luxembourg.*

Luxembourg a un des niveaux de vie les plus élevés au monde, la richesse transpire ici à  chaque coin de rue, à  chaque passage de voiture, c’est une ville de banquiers et d’institutions internationales bénéficiant des largesses fiscales du pays. Luxembourg se classe aussi 14^ème^ à  l‘échelle mondiale des taux de suicide. Il y a ici de très jolis ponts parfois utilisés pour un dernier saut. Ce pont ci est le plus grand du pays, il est aussi peint en rouge.

Depuis 1966, l’arche gigantesque d’un pont rouge enjambe le quartier de Pfaffenthal qui fait partie de la Ville de Luxembourg. Depuis ce temps-là , les habitants dorment un peu moins tranquillement et ils ne passent jamais sous le pont sans lever la tête. Ils savent que, de là -haut, tout peut leur tomber dessus: des cornets de frites, des blocs de bétons, des chiens, mais surtout des hommes et des femmes. Plus d’une centaine de personnes ont choisi le pont rouge pour se suicider depuis 1966 et ont atterri sur les toits des maisons, sur les trottoirs et dans les bacs de sable des enfants“.(1)

Il fallut attendre 1991 et un court-métrage donnant la parole aux habitants de Pfaffenthal pour voir les autorités luxembourgeoise réagir. En 1993 des gardes-fous étaient enfin dressés pour retenir les candidats au suicide, soit 27 ans après la mise en service du pont.


(1) adaptation libre du synopsis de le pont rouge un court métrage de Geneviève Mersch