For someone who isn’t an avid viewer of historically-based screenplays, the bar set on Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies” might not be very high.
However, the dramatic thriller film starring Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance surprisingly had much to be appreciated by the wide-scoped audience who was looking for something other than a historical reenactment.
Spielberg, one of the most influential directors and producers in film history, directs a historical account on the 1960 U-2 incident during the Cold War.
Lawyer James B. Donovan, played by Hanks, is entrusted with negotiating the release of Francis Gary Powers, a pilot whose plane was shot down over the Soviet Union in exchange for alleged Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (played by Rylance), who had been kept under the custody of the United States.
The film portrayed the emotional grievances that are attached to governmental moralities that Hank’s character, James B. Donovan had to encounter. The line between following the moralities of the United States conflict with his duties as a lawyer.
The underlying battle that Donovan has to struggle with is the due process law written in the Constitution being upheld in the court of law where the defendant is an illegal alien and alleged Soviet spy.
While Rylance’s character, Rudolf Abel is found guilty in the United States, Donovan works to lessen his sentencing from death row to life in prison. Eventually he works to help Abel get deported back to his home in the Soviet Union.
As a result, the citizens of the United States create an uproar and threaten Donovan for attempting to help and console a Soviet spy who they believed should have been sentenced to death after the guilty ruling.
Hank does an outstanding job at showing growth in his character development throughout the film. Rylance offers great comedic relief as his character, often questions Donovan asking “would it help?”
Amy Ryan, who plays Donovan’s wife, Mary, executes the emotional juxtaposition between her family and career flawlessly. However, the true award-winning moment of the movie is in the last ten minutes, which is the most artistically-driven sequence in the entire film.
Music composer Thomas Newman lends his skills to provide emotionally-driven instrumental sequences to encompass all the feelings one is supposed to reflect on in this film. The ongoing montage shows the relationship between Donovan and his family, as well as the idea that Donovan’s duties were more than just a job description. He had a moral obligation as a human being to provide a defense for this man. This montage expressed without any exchange of words that his wife finally understood his motivation.
Another part of the montage showed Donovan on the train in the United States, in which he looked outside the window to see kids hopping fences in leisure. In the earlier parts of the film, Donovan is on a train in Germany and sees the death of citizens attempting to hop the Berlin Wall.
The dichotomy of the two similar instances drive viewers to really think and reflect during Newman’s instrumental sequence. Is one supposed to feel comfort in the fact that children in the United States are hopping fences out of enjoyment rather than fear? Is one supposed to be struck by reality in the fact that there are so many grieving countries in the world, but the United States fails to acknowledge anyone that isn’t themselves?
Whatever feelings one may have during this film, it doesn’t come with a concluding consensus. One may see the importance of the movie through the relations between the United States and foreign policy. One may see the importance of the movie through the character building of James B. Donovan. Another may find the accurate depiction of the historical reenactment of the 1960 U-2 incident the most significant.
However, the music composition was arguably the key aspect of the film. That’s the reason why one who doesn’t particularly enjoy historical films can still find a silver lining to enjoy in this movie.