Bridge of Spies Crosses You Over to the Cold War

By: Michael Passarelli, Fall Reporter/Editor

Bridge of Spies is a thriller movie starring Tom Hanks that is centered in the secretive world of the Cold War and shows how what the public was told was a distorted image of what really happened behind the scenes.

The movie is based around the arrest of a man who is suspected of spying on the U.S. Government for the Soviet Union. As the judicial system of the United States works – all suspects are innocent until proven guilty. In this case, James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) is approached to be the attorney for the alleged spy for the sole reason that the judicial system requires him to be represented. Donovan is informed that he is to bot actually try to represent this man, but rather just be a figure to make it look as though he is so that they can say that he was.

James Donovan (Tom Hanks) in the movie Bridge of Spies.
James Donovan (Tom Hanks) in the movie Bridge of Spies. Photo Credit: Photo via YouTube labeled for reuse under Creative Commons License

Unfortunately, for the U.S. Government Donovan takes his job very seriously, and plans to uphold the integrity of the United States’ Constitution and represent this man’s rights. He attempts to get the evidence that was illegally obtained thrown out, however, the court states that they will not throw out this evidence since it is the prosecutor’s whole case, and proceeds with the trial with the illegal evidence. The spy is found guilty of espionage and is sentenced to death.

This is where the story gets interesting with the attorney, James Donovan, fighting to have the death sentence reduced to a life sentence. His reasoning that if the Soviet Union where to ever capture an American as a prisoner they would be able to trade.

Meanwhile a second story parallels the main story, and eventually leads to the Soviet Union capturing an American and this is where the story takes a turn that was not seen coming.

Obviously, this is exactly what Donovan was warning about and the U.S. Government now has someone to trade with thanks to the attorney. The twist is the American government tells Donovan that he will set up and arrange the exchange – the man with no training.

The rest of the movie is a thrilling sequence of events and nail biting moments that tell the rest of the story. How this man with no experience must quickly learn how to do this job in the midst of chaos in Berlin during the construction of the Berlin Wall.

The movie is most definitely one that anybody with an interest in the cold war should check out. There is not too much action; by no means would it be considered action packed. This movie was made for an audience who will pay attention, as well as one who must have prior knowledge of American law as well as some of how the cold war worked. Those interested in this time period would most definitely enjoy this flick.