The setting is New York City circa the late 1950s. The subject of visual interest is “bridges.” The genre is “experimental film.” If your interest isn’t piqued yet, then you’re probably going to end up wanting these seven minutes and 43 seconds back.
For an avant-garde film, Bridges-Go-Round is a lot less taxing than, say, Andy Warhol’s perverse, patience-testing exercises in duration/boredom, which were still several years away. The effect that Shirley Clarke achieves through the arrangement and manipulation of these ordinary images isn’t so far removed from that of Walter Ruttman’s forays into abstract animation (she did study with Hans Richter, after all.) Music plays a large role here as it does in Clarke’s narrative and documentary works, and not just because of the scores by jazz producer/arranger Teo Macero and Forbidden Planet composers Louis and Bebe Barron (this YouTube video has the film playing through twice, once for each of the two scores.) In the absence of narrative, Clarke seems to be drawing from her appreciation of music and dance (her previous field) to give these monumental structures a sense of rhythm, which varies depending on which score you’re hearing.