Bridge of Spies represents director Steven Spielberg's latest political commentary. This time, he tackles questions regarding the erosion of civil liberties in an atmosphere of paranoia. Just as War of the Worlds was a 9/11 allegory, Bridge is a commentary on basic human rights being challenged in the name of national security.
For this article, we will look at the plot and cast for the upcoming feature film.
Plot Inspired by True Events
The story is set in Cold War America, which is paranoid by a potential hot war between the U.S. and Soviet Russia. In the midst of the tension, both sides are spying on each other with whatever means is at their disposal.
This includes employing human agents, one of whom includes alleged Soviet spy Rudolph Abel - played by Mark Rylance. Abel was said to have made a dead drop of stolen documents in a park in Brooklyn. Bridge heavily implies Abel's guilt, but tactfully refrains from condemning his actions and motives.
Actor Tom Hanks stars as real-life Brooklyn insurance lawyer Jim Donovan, who defends Abel in a court of law. Legally speaking, espionage is punishable by death in the United States. Up to this point, the U.S. has always executed convicted spies. Despite facing threats and pressure from the general American public, Donovan is able to strike a deal to keep Abel alive.
The government is to keep Abel imprisoned until an American spy is apprehended by the Soviets. Afterwards, a prisoner exchange is to be negotiated. That opportunity arrives soon after with the shoot-down of Francis Gary Powers, an American pilot under the employ of the Central Intelligence Agency. The top-secret U2 spy plane that he was flying in was also recovered by the Soviets, albeit in pieces.
Donovan is asked by the U.S. government to travel to Berlin to negotiate a peaceful transfer. However, his task is further complicated by the construction of the infamous Berlin Wall.
Filming Took Place at Historical Cold War Location
Much of the filming for Bridge of Spies was done in New York City and Berlin. A vintage C-54 Skymaster transport aircraft was used for the scene where Donovan flies to Germany to negotiate a prisoner swap. The historical Glienicke Bridge, where the actual Powers and Abel transfer took place, was included in the movie.
Besides Germany and the United States, Poland also served as shooting location. Other scenes were shot at the Beale Air Force Base, which happens to be where modern variants of the U-2 spy plane are flown.
The film is scheduled for wide release in theaters nationwide this Friday, October 2015.