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CONSPIRACY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES: Bridge of Spies

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Bridge of Spies is a 2015 historical drama legal thriller film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg, written by Matt Charman, Ethan and Joel Coen and stars Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan and Alan Alda. Based on the 1960 U-2 incident during the Cold War, the film tells the story of lawyer James B. Donovan, who is entrusted with negotiating the release of Francis Gary Powers?a pilot whose U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union?in exchange for Rudolf Abel, a captive and convicted Soviet KGB spy held under the custody of the United States, whom he represented at trial. The name of the film refers to the Glienicke Bridge, which connects Potsdam with Berlin, where the spy exchange took place. The film was an international co-production of the United States and Germany.

Plot

In 1957 New York City, Rudolf Abel is charged with spying for the Soviet Union. Insurance lawyer James B. Donovan is prevailed upon to take on the unenviable task of defending Abel, so that Abel's trial will be seen as fair. Committed to the principle that the accused deserves a vigorous defense, he mounts the best defense of Abel he can, declining along the way to cooperate in the CIA's attempts to induce him to violate the confidentiality of his communications with his client. Abel is convicted, but Donovan convinces the judge to spare Abel the death penalty because Abel had been serving his country honorably, and he might prove useful for a future prisoner exchange; Abel is sentenced to 30 years. Donovan appeals the conviction to the Supreme Court based on the lack of a search warrant for the seizure of Abel’s ciphers and photography equipment, but the conviction is upheld. For his principled stand Donovan and his family are harassed, including shots being fired at his home.

Meanwhile Gary Powers, a pilot in the CIA's top secret U-2 spy plane program, is shot down over the USSR. He is captured and sentenced in a show trial to ten years confinement, including three years in prison.

Donovan receives a letter from East Germany, purportedly sent by Abel's wife, thanking him and urging him to get in contact with their lawyer, whose name is Vogel. The CIA think this is a back-channel message hinting that the USSR is willing to swap Powers for Abel. They ask Donovan to go to Berlin unofficially to negotiate the exchange; he arrives just as The Wall is going up. Crossing in to East Berlin, he meets with a KGB officer in the Soviet Embassy and is then directed to Vogel, who represents the Attorney General of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The Attorney General seeks to swap Abel for an American graduate student named Pryor, who had been arrested in East Germany not long before; in the process the GDR hopes to gain official recognition by the United States.

The CIA wants Donovan to forget about Pryor but he insists both Pryor and Powers should be swapped for Abel. In a message to the Attorney General he bluffs that they will either release Pryor with Powers or there will be no deal. The bluff is successful. As Abel and Powers are poised at opposite ends of the Glienicke Bridge, there is a tense delay until it is confirmed that Pryor has been released at Checkpoint Charlie. The next day, back in the United States, the government publicly acknowledges Donovan for negotiating the deal, rehabilitating his public image. During the end credits the audience also learns that Donovan helped negotiate the release of fighters captured during the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.


Posted by Conspiracy Cafe on February 28, 2017 at 9:07 PM 227 Views