Disney and Dreamworks invite you to take a step back into an era of espionage and Cold War. Steven Spielberg directs a dramatic thriller set against the backdrop of a series of historic events, Bridge of Spies tells the story of James Donovan (Tom Hanks), a Brooklyn lawyer who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on a near impossible mission to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot. Bring home this high stakes suspense story on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and Digital HD February 2, 2016.
A dramatic thriller set against the backdrop of a series of historic events, “Bridge of Spies” tells the story of James Donovan (Hanks), a Brooklyn lawyer who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on the near-impossible task to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot. Screenwriters Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen have woven this remarkable experience in Donovan’s life into a story inspired by true events that captures the essence of a man who risked everything and vividly brings his personal journey to life.
I previewed this movie and immediately though how wonderful it would be for history students to see. The depiction of the Berlin Wall being built and then completed, may have been slightly dramatized, but not in the same way a lot of fiction movies portray this piece of history. In Bridge of Spies, the scenes seemed quite realistic and closer to fact. It was chilling to see this re-enactment unfold on the big screen.
Tom Hanks (Saving Mr. Banks, Philadelphia and Forrest Gump) as James Donovan, Mark Rylance (Wolf Hall, The Other Boleyn Girl) as Rudolf Abel, Amy Ryan (Birdman, Goosebumps) as Mary Donovan, Sebastian Koch (TV’s “Homeland,” The Danish Girl) as Wolfgang Vogel, Alan Alda as Thomas Watters (The Aviator, Crimes and Misdemeanors), Austin Stowell (Whiplash, TNT’s “Public Morals”), Mikhail Gorevoy (Die Another Day, BBC’s “Space Race”) as Ivan Schischkin and Will Rogers (A Good Marriage, The Bay) as Frederic Pryor.
The movie was riveting. It is the story of one of the Nuremberg trial lawyers, James Donovan, who is called upon to defend a Russian spy. The government wants the case prosecuted in a believable manner. As long as the defendant is found guilty, that is the subtext.
These Bonus Features take you deeper into the true events that inspired the movie. They are an excellent reason why this should be required viewing for students of history:
A CASE OF THE COLD WAR: BRIDGE OF SPIES – The story of James Donovan, Francis Gary Powers and Rudolf Abel encapsulates the Cold War era—a tense political climate shrouded in propaganda, espionage and the threat of nuclear war. This piece explores the characters and the real-life people they’re based on, ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks share personal stories of the Cold War, describing how experiences from their youth were part of the attraction to the script, how this influenced the way they approached the film and why the history behind Bride Of Spies resonates across generations and is relevant in today’s political climate.
U-2 SPY PLANE: BEALE AIR FORCE BASE – Showcases spectacular footage shot at the Beale Air Force Base of the U-2 plane and the scene where Powers and other pilots are instructed about their spying mission, including a cameo appearance in the film by Francis Gary Powers son, Gary Powers Jr. and discussion with the Air Force liaison about the significance of the scene and why they got behind the film
SPY SWAP: LOOKING BACK ON THE FINAL ACT – Steven Spielberg and his team stage the pivotal scene of the film at Glienicke Bridge, the very same location where the historic exchange of Soviet spy Rudolf Abel and U-2 spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers took place. Gary Powers Jr. shares his memories of his father’s experience with voiceover recordings from Francis Gary Powers, as filmmakers and the cast recreate a page of Cold War history while filming in the presence of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.
BERLIN 1961: RECREATING THE DIVIDE – A mix of behind-the-scenes footage with iconic archival imagery transports viewers to another place and time as the filmmakers construct the Berlin Wall, envision what it was like to cross through Checkpoint Charlie, and recreate the divide. On set in Berlin just days after the 25th anniversary celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a historian who lived through the experience describes what being there means to her. In Poland, where the Wall was recreated for the film, tanks, hundreds of extras and powerful sequences make the setting feel epic and surreal.
Bridge Of Spies: A Case Of The Cold War Bonus Clip
This movie was riveting and the acting was superb. I can’t wait to share this with my son when he learns about this time period! I interviewed the cast and Steven Spielberg, please read that piece here!
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As a fellow New Yorker, I looked into James Donovan’s life after the movie and the Cuban negotiations: in 1962, he was the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in New York, but lost to Republican incumbent Jacob K. Javits. Mr. Donovan also served as the President of the New York Board of Education at the height of the civil rights era. In his final years, Donovan was President of Pratt Institute in NYC. (info courtesy of Wikipedia). I had no idea I live so close to where this man of such historical significance, worked, Pratt is down the block from me!
Disclosure: I received a copy of this movie for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own and honest.
I attended the interview at AOL Build for this movie and was thrilled to meet Amy Ryan, she plays Tom Hanks character’s wife in the movie:
I was thrilled to meet Alan Alda, who plays Tom Hanks character’s boss in the movie: