Bridge Of Spies is one of the most terrific historical drama I have seen in last few years. Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by the Coen brothers, the movie is somehow based on James B.Donovan’s book “Strangers on a Bridge“. James B.Donovan was an American insurance lawyer, who after his experience of Nuremberg Trials in 1945 (also mentioned in the movie) was asked by US Govt to defend Soviet spy Rudolf Abel.
Now who was Rudolf Abel? Shortly speaking, Abel was born in UK to Russian émigré parents, which means born to the couples living in political exile. He served Soviet military and fought against Nazis in WWII. After the war, he lived as spy in US where years later he was caught by FBI. The director began his part in the movie from here and I think that was a good decision.
The movie has two phases blended splendidly. One is Donovan/Abel phase and the other is Powers/Pryor phase. The other phase is story of two Americans. Francis Gary Powers was American pilot whose CIA spy plane was shot down by the Soviets in 1960 and Frederic Pryor, a graduate student, was caught by East German police without any charge a year later, who was studying there since 1959.
Spielberg offers sharp visual historic presentation of the famous exchange occurred in Glienicke Bridge. The famous exchange scene has been shot at very same historic site. The dare and gallantry of James B.Donovan is well explained, his wit saved Abel’s hugely expected hanging sentence into a 30-year imprisonment which turned into nationwide massive shock.
When it comes to tell history, the most important aspect to the viewers and readers is ‘deep intensity’. Spielberg successfully sketches deep realistic intensity hitting your head hard, specially at two different scenes. One is the court scene when the judge declares Abel’s punishment to 30 years instead of hanging, next 5 minutes are the peak of boiling points. The other scene is Donovan witnessing Berlin Wall shooting, facial expressions of Tom Hanks who plays Donovan here are priceless.
Bridge of Spies is committed with 90% historical accuracy with slight alterations i.e., all critical points under the incidents happened and presented in the movie are true. Spielberg’s frequent collaborator John Williams did join to compose movie’s score but left for Thomas Newman due to health issues but Newman justified his musical presence and didn’t make us miss John’s score. Production and costume designs were super-excellent, one simply cannot expect an error in these two departments as Speilberg has been veteran of many many historic movies.
Pace is slow but adaptable. Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel is a showstopper who deservingly won Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this role. Overall, Bridge of Spies is a decent history digging movie from a very important time-zone of the 20th century.
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Oh a soft wind that freezes you with the medical guru declaring your fate that you have access of breathing this world for hardly 24 more months. The legacy is in the surviving and those who survive live long and serve. Life of unarguably Britain’s most famous living scientist Stephen Hawking is cinematically biographed.
Well known English documentary maker James Marsh, who won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for Man On Wire, directed “The Theory of Everything“. Eddie Redmayne played the central role of the scientist while his spouse Jane Hawking was played by Felicity Jones. At a budget of mere $15 M, the movie boomed at almost $100 M. The movie is based on Mrs. Hawking’s “Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen”.
Eddie spent six months on researching Hawking’s life. Once the research was done, he had a chance to meet the scientist five days before the shooting began. Variety.com stated that during the meeting, Eddie’s nervousness knew no bounds as while detailing Hawking’s own life to him, he informed that he was Capricorn like him. On that, Hawking replied “I’m an astronomer, not an astrologer.”
I am more into accepting the movies with the most accuracies as far as movies based on adapted screenplays are concerned. This movie was a blend of fictional experiments and accurate events. When the weight is stoned, you will come to observe and understand that major events in the movie are more accurate than some minor changes which somehow are acceptable. For example; 1) First meeting of Mr and Mrs. Hawking was on the occasion of New Year’s Party in 1963 but only the location was changed. 2) Hawking’s classmate Brian is a fictional character but Brian’s character and attitude is well described in Jane’s book reflecting similarities. 3) Jane and future husband Jonathan did go on camping trip with Jane’s kids when Hawking’s coughing fits worsened. But Hawking in reality was rushed to Geneva instead of losing health in an opera show showed in the movie.
Bullet notes from Hawking’s life was justified. The doctor did declare his maximum survival not more than two years. Hawking’s parents had a cottage with very complicated stairs enough to lift Hawking’s wheelchair towards their destiny. Jane’s mother-in-law did ask her who the father of her third child was.
A major breakdown on accuracy was in one of the most important event of his life i.e., the first fall – the sign of ALS diagnosis. In movie, he fall in the campus whereas in reality he fell while ice skating. The other event is the separation of the Hawking couples after the entry of nurse Elaine Mason. It wasn’t as peaceful as the movie shows. In fact, Hawking’s memoir confirms he was very unhappy with Jane-Jonathan affair enough to decide to move out to the other flat with Elaine in 1990.
What was wrong with the movie? The major flow was that ‘The Theory of Everything’ was more inclined in describing Hawking’s personal life more as compared to professional life. The director looked more committed to present Hawking-Jane chemistry rather than focusing on his career. His works were highlighted for few minutes and his works and studies on Quantum mechanics should had a 10-minute place in the movie.
What makes this movie worth watching? First of all, it is easily apprehending biography of a great scientist with no-nonsense and the pace keeps your mode active on above-average scale with the movie length of 120 minutes. The other thing is there are no flashbacks. Besides few childhood scenes of the Hawkings, the timeline grows where the boy and the girl meets and eyebrows of viewers raise once the health of the scientist deteriorates. Excellent cinematography by Benoît Delhomme.
And the biggest plus of the movie, which makes the review morally incomplete without mentioning it, is the fact that ‘The Theory of Everything’ is a Eddie Redmayne show. Eddie has not actually researched Hawking’s life, in fact he brought a Hawking in himself to portray with almost perfectness. Sometimes during the movie, I am compelled to forget the story and study his character building. Keeping in mind that Eddie has to show Hawking’s health deteriorating time by time, he just stamps an authority to make you say bravo. His footwork, finger movements, opening and shaping of jaws while struggling to talk were abnormally extraordinary.
I am simply lost of words when he is trying to climb the stairs while Jane and his friends are at dinner and the baby is looking at him. That scene is an emotional pasture when Hawking comes out of his wheelchair to give the female attendee her pencil in a seminar which will move you to think how disabled person applies a normal incident imagining himself/herself in a normal body. It’s painful to think.
The Theory of Everything is a magnificent movie and deserves huge appreciation. Eddie Redmayne has produced one of the best performances of 2014 and richly deserve the fruit of his hard work. I should not ignore Felicity Jones’ efforts of assisting him in the whole movie and bringing a wonderful on-screen pairing. Superb acting by her side. Overall one of the best movie produced in 2014.
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