‘Bridge of Spies’ DVD Review: Behind The Scenes of A Foreign Spy Transaction
Bridge of Spies tells of the historical tensions between the Communist Soviet Union, the United States and Germany during the Cold War.
The story, inspired by true events, deals with foreign spies in the height of the war in 1957. Tom Hanks stars as lawyer James Donovan who defends a Soviet spy on U.S. soil, Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance).
Donovan, once in insurance law, is forced to take the criminal case that no one wants, defending a Soviet spy. Throughout much of the movie, Abel seems careless. When Donovan offers him legal counsel Abel just responds with, “Alright.”
But if there’s one thing Abel has a passion for, it’s drawing. He even requests for art supplies while he’s in custody.
Director Steven Spielberg did a fantastic job in sharing this story. The movie has the ability to make the audience see behind the scenes and relate with characters they normally wouldn’t. As Donovan encounters many other characters, we realize most have a bias opinion. At one point, he requests the judge for the court date to be moved. The judge denies and declares he wants him convicted “god-willing.”
Fundamentally, Bridge of Spies questions who gets justice within the U.S. The judge says that aliens, like Abel, are not protected by the Constitution because they are not U.S. citizens. But Donovan believes every person matters.
Donovan is asked throughout the film to violate his attorney-client privilege. People think it’s a joke and can’t understand why he continues to defend Abel.
We see young men in the military being asked to spy on the Soviets. Originally I thought these scenes were flashbacks of a young Donovan in the military. There wasn’t really an introduction or clue about how these were relevant. I soon found out that the movie tells three stories and how they all connect into one. It shows U.S. spies in action, one in particular, Gary Powers. The other setting shows a graduate student in East Berlin, Frederic Pryor. Bridge of Spies tells the story of this classic Cold War spy-swap.
Donovan’s young son learns about Communists, duck-and-cover and atomic bombs at school. He questions Donovan about why he chose to defend a Communist to which he tells his son, “It’s my job.”
Donovan does all that he can to save Abel. The judge wants to give him the death penalty and many other American citizens agree. Donovan discusses the potential opportunity to trade if they Soviets ever get an American in custody.
DVD Extras: “A Case of the Cold War: Bridge of Spies” gives background information and real life history behind the story with footage of Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy. Hanks and Spielberg explain some of the espionage in the film and how they were similar if not exactly the same in real life. Spielberg described Donovan as a guy who “stands up for what he believes in, justice for all.” The extras reiterate that Bridge of Spies isn’t all about history. It’s about learning how to determine the line between security and your own principles.
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