Posted in books, films & DVD, Television

Bridge of Spies

I would like to watch the exciting thriller Bridge of Spies which is out on DVD and stars Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Dakon Matthews, Mikhail Gorevoy Will Rogers and Austin Stowell. It is set in Brooklyn, New York in 1957 during the height of the Cold War, and concerns Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) who retrieves a secret message from a park bench and is arrested by the FBI and prosecuted as a Soviet Spy.The FBI offers to drop the charges if Abel cooperates and reveals the details of his spy network, but he refuses. He goes to trial, but the government wants it to appear to be “a fair trial” so that the Soviet Union cannot use it for propaganda.

The bar association presided over byjudge (Dakin Matthews) request James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) defend Abel. Donovan has previously worked on the prosecutions of Nazi war crimes in the Nuremberg trials, and since then has been an insurance lawyer with experience in negotiations. As news of him defending Abel is put on newspapers, Donovan is treated with disdain in public places. At the trial, Abel is found guilty of all charges. Before the sentencing, Donovan meets the judge and argues that Abel not be sentenced to death, as he could serve as “an insurance” should a U.S. spy be captured by the USSR. The judge sentences Abel to 30 years imprisonment, outraging the public. Despite the intimidation Donovan appeals unsuccessfully to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the conviction,

Some time later, a U2 spy plane pilotFrancis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) is shot down and captured in the Soviet Union. So Donovan, proposes a prisoner exchange: Abel for Powers. Donovan agrees to handle negotiations. As the USSR doesn’t want to admit Abel is their spy, the exchange is to take place in East Germany. Meanwhile, Frederic Pryor (Will Rogers), an American economics graduate student, visits his German girlfriend in East Berlin also gets arrested for being an American spy.

Donovan tells his wife that he is going on a fishing trip to England, and travels to West Berlin, accompanied by CIA agents. Donovan goes to the Soviet Embassy in East Berlin, and meets Ivan Schischkin (Mikhail Gorevoy), who claims to be Second Secretary at the Embassy but is actually the KGB’s chief in Western Europe. Donovan negotiates with Schischkin to have Abel, Pryor and Powers released simultaneously however Schischkin informs him that Pryor is held by East Germany. However Donovan discovers that the USSR and the GDR (East Germany) both want Abel, so he liaises with Wolfgang Vogel (Sebastian Koch), a GDR lawyer who supposedly represents Abel’s family, and arranges to exchange Abel for Pryor, Although the CIA is interested only in Powers’ return. Donovan also negotiates for Pryor’s release as long as the Abel/Powers exchange goes ahead to which Schischkin agrees and sets the exchange on the Glienicke Bridge in Potsdam, Berlin

However, Vogel pulls out of the negotiation after finding out about the deal Donovan made with the USSR. So Donovan ,meets Vogel’s superior, Harald Ott (Burghart Klaußner), East German attorney general, despite CIA protest and suggests the 2-for-1 deal, but Ott refuses. So Donovan sends a message to Ott, stating that the U.S. wants both Pryor and Powers for Abel, or the entire deal IS off. The scene is set for a tense finale At the Glienicke Bridge, as Donovan tries to secure the release of Abel in exchange for Powers while Pryor is taken to Checkpoint Charlie to be handed back.

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