Trailer: Bridge of Spies


Hanks! Spielberg! The Cold War!

After a three year hiatus, Spielberg is back behind the camera, re-teaming with his favorite cinematographer Janusz KamiƄski but sans his favorite composer John Williams (albeit in exchange for the still great Thomas Newman). Despite having Joel & Ethan Coen as co-writers on the screenplay, Bridge of Spies seems to be a little more Munich and a little less Catch Me If You Can.

Starring Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, and Alan Alda, the film is a Cold War thriller about a lawyer (played by Hanks) who is chosen by the American government to represent a Soviet spy in American courts–and, well, you can watch the rest of the trailer to get a better sense of how this affects the lawyer’s life.

Bridge of Spies hits theaters on October 16, 2015.

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La Menthe

The trailer looks awfully orthodox, especially in the typical pro-American Hollywood-portrayal of US conflicts. Hanks points out acts by the state that “violate the consitution”. He is also lecturing that “everybody deserves a defense”, when the question of him defending “a traitor” is brought up. Then we see a couple of clips of Hanks being behind the iron curtain in what looks like Berlin, where he of course gets to experience the rare incidents of brutalities that happened whenever someone tried to escape over the border.

This all reminds me of Spielberg’s previous spy thriller, Munich (that, ironically, ended up becoming his most impressive directorial achievment), only that the protagonists were Israelis and foes Palestinians.

As Zizek so wonderfully put it, when discussing Munich in one of his essays:

“In contrast to the simplistic opposition of good guys and bad guys, spy thrillers with artistic pretensions display all the “realistic psychological complexity” of the characters from “our” side. Far from signaling a balanced view, however, this “honest” acknowledgment of our own “dark side” stands for its very opposite, for the hidden assertion of our supremacy: we are “psychologically complex,” full of doubts, while the opponents are one-dimensional fanatical killing machines.”

He applied this to spy thrillers (Munich, specifically), but they work just as much for any politically loaded film Homeland, Munich, The American, The Hurt Locker, Good Kill, American Sniper. Virtually every American mainstream production does this, and there rarely are deviations.

Not surprisingly, it also works perfectally for Bridge of Spies. I will even go further and make a bet on a bold prediction: when Hanks’ character visits East-Germany, the unfavorable depiction of the authoritarian regime will sway away from the topic of them surveilling their population (or if it does, it will go to lenghts to make us understand its difference with that we have today). Up until 5 years ago it would have been the defintive route to go, just as we constantly were taught of its sickening elaboration by Stasi in DDR in school. But after the newly revealed surveillance by Western governments themselves, that is far more elaborate than any regime previously ever have done, giving this portrayal of East Germany as a means to make them look bad could turn out to be difficult. Can’t put those kinds of ideas in peoples heads…

If I lose the bet I will personally donate $50 to Row Three.