Steven Spielberg’s remarkable, refreshing historical epic BRIDGE OF SPIES provides crucial context missing from most movies about the Cold War era.
Those prior films emphasize anti-Communist hysteria in America, without showing the tyrannical excesses of the Soviet system that inspired our fears. BRIDGE OF SPIES is different: Tom Hanks plays a real-life, idealistic lawyer who provoked angry hostility for defending an accused Russian spy. But in this case, the spy is unequivocally guilty, and the second half of the film depicts the horrors of the Communist system he serves. Scenes of the construction of the Berlin Wall depicting the grim tyranny of East Germany are vivid and unforgettable.
In the past, two of Spielberg’s greatest achievements lost out at Oscar Time to less worthy candidates. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN lost Best Picture to SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, while the sublime LINCOLN lost to ARGO. Perhaps with BRIDGE OF SPIES the Academy can end this misguided pattern.