Wednesday, October 14, 2015
I went to a free preview screening of Bridge of Spies starring Tom Hanks and directed by Stephen Spielberg on October 13th. I arrived several hours early an hours early and decided to sketch this larger than life chess set. A young couple set up the board and began to play. Across the street at the Regal Winter Park Cinemas, two large lines had already formed to get in the theater. I overheard that one was for Goosebumps the movie, and the of he was for Bridge of spies. As I was finishing my sketch, the spies line moved forward into the theater. There was more than an hour before the movie was to be screened, but I went inside to assess the situation.
Two co-workers from Elite Animation Academy were in the lobby. They were waiting for friends and family. Guards were collecting and bagging cell phones so the no one would record video of the movie prior to it's release on October 16th. I waited with them since Terry planned to arrive minutes before the screening. All the heightened security seemed appropriate for a movie about Soviet and us relations as the Berlin wall was raised. Everyone was patted down and scanned by y metal detector as we went through Check Point Charlie to go into the screening room. I had purchased a large popcorn and realized the had I hidden my phone in the popcorn I could have smuggled it into the theater.
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union captures U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers after shooting down his U-2 spy plane. Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Powers' only hope is New York lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks), recruited by a CIA operative to negotiate his release. Donovan boards a plane to Berlin, hoping to win the young man's freedom through a prisoner exchange. If all goes well, the Russians would get Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), the convicted spy who Donovan defended in court. Although Rudolf was clearly a spy, I rather liked him since he was also a rather go representational artist. He seemed unfazed during the court hearing in which he was found guilty. His lawyer kept asking, "Aren't You worried? to which Abel replied "Would it help if I were? This became a running joke between them.
At times the film reminded me of "To Kill a Mockingbird" in which Atticus Finch had to defend a black man in a racist Southern town. Like Donovan, he and his family were threatened for taking the case. Spielberg's influence can be seen in the interrogation scenes in which the windows are brightly illumined behind the actors. Negotiations in Eastern Germany involved as much strategy as a game of chess. The film is smartly written and brilliantly directed.