Bridge of Spies
A team of film industry heavyweights encapsulates a time of great suspicion in US history with the historical drama-thriller, Bridge of Spies. Three-time Academy award-winning director Steven Spielberg and two-time Academy award-winning actor Tom Hanks team up to create a Cold War epic depicting the American-Soviet war of intelligence.
James Donovan (Hanks), a Brooklyn-based insurance lawyer, is tasked with representing Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), a suspected Soviet spy. As a former prosecutor in the Nuremberg trials, Donovan is a highly regarded attorney within the community and is gifted with profound negotiating skills. He is a man committed to the principles of justice and the protection of human rights for all, not just American citizens. His unpopularity arises when he chooses to defend Abel without bias or prejudice. In a separate instance, an American U-2 spy plane is shot down over Soviet territory, and the pilot, Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell), is convicted to prison in the USSR. Donovan is then urged by the CIA to use his powers of negotiation to arrange an exchange: Abel to return to Russia in order to retrieve the American soldier.
Spielberg and Hanks, known for their collaborations on historical dramas such as Saving Private Ryan and HBO mini-series Band of Brothers, chose to express their love of history by skilfully illustrating a much less violent, but just as perilous war. The film is fraught with tension and intrigue, as the US government and justice system battle for information and intelligence in the wake of atomic fear. Hanks is the perfect choice to portray the altruistic Donovan, as he acts as the referee and mediator in this hostile game. Though the plot focuses on the American perspective, the framing and structure of the film creates an atmosphere without bias. The film is composed with a very central theme: perception, how it is created and how it is received, and “what we hide in order for others to discover something hidden”, according to Spielberg. This stylistic choice makes the film utterly riveting.
The Cold War was very much an unpredictable contest of who got the upper hand, and in Spielberg’s depiction the rulebook is tossed and the players become dispensable. This brings to question the very nature of the game, and what people are willing to sacrifice to get ahead. Donovan proves that if you are fair and play by the rules, you will be rewarded, but as Abel counters in the film: “What’s the next move, if you don’t know the game?”
Bridge of Spies is released nationwide on 26th November 2015.
Watch the trailer for Bridge of Spies here: