It has been too long since we’ve had a new Steven Spielberg movie. His last one was 2012’s Lincoln, which won Daniel Day Lewis an Oscar, made some people cry, and caused others to lament, “The opening scene recreates the Lincoln Memorial with a still alive Abraham Lincoln seated in an elevated position above two admiring freed slaves, which sets the tone for the hagiography throughout the rest of the movie.” Since then, Spielberg has backed best bud George Lucas’ assertion that the film industry will eventually implode, cast Anne Hathaway and Chris Hemsworth in a big-budget sci-fi thriller called Robopocalypse only to pull the plug right before filming in order to rework the script, and took a stab at making American Sniper until Warner Bros. gave the job to Clint Eastwood. He’s also simply been busy with his main job as a DreamWorks studio mogul, executive producing plenty of movies and TV shows, yielding the field of spectacle-filmmaking to his younger colleagues. Colin Trevorrow can go make Jurassic World and show us a huge dinosaur eating a great white shark; Spielberg wants to make a cold war drama with Tom Hanks.
I am personally in the midst of a Spielberg nostalgia binge, entirely brought on by the forthcoming release of Jurassic World. I re-watched Jurassic Park and then E.T. and then Close Encounters of the Third Kind and then Jaws, etc. I miss the version of Spielberg who seemed to always appeal to the kid in everyone, wowing us and making us walk out of theaters thinking, “Wow, they resurrected dinosaurs! How’d they do that?” But, of course, at the same time he was making those movies he was also making The Color Purple and Schindler’s List. In recent years, he’s busied himself with Oscar contenders (Lincoln, War Horse, Munich), technical experiments (Adventures of Tintin), an obligatory sequel for which he apparently had little passion (Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), low-key character dramas (The Terminal) and conman comedy that turns into a dramatic depiction of fathers and sons (Catch Me If You Can).
Now, he’s re-teamed with Tom Hanks on Bridge of Spies, which dramatizes the real-life Cold War tale of a United States attorney (Hanks) first charged with defending a captured Soviet spy in court and then with unofficially negotiating a prisoner exchange using the Soviet spy as a bargaining chip to reclaim Francis Gary Powers, a U.S. pilot shot down over Soviet airspace in 1960 while flying a U-2 spy plane. The title refers to the bridge that links the former West Berlin to land that was previously under the control of East Germany, and the script was co-written by The Coen Brothers and newcomer Matt Charman. Here’s the first trailer:
It looks like there might some attempt in the film to comment on our modern war on terror, specifically in the ways in which the Soviet spy is tortured. However, similar to The Terminal there might be nothing more to the motivations behind this movie other than Spielberg thought it was an interesting real life story he wanted to bring to film. Either way, it may not be the spectacle filmmaking of old, but it looks like it will be a very well made historical thriller which will undoubtedly have everyone asking, “Wow, was the guy Hanks played really in that much danger?” to which historians will say, “No, the movie exaggerated things. What do you expect? It’s a movie.”
Two more things:
1. John Williams was unable to provide a score for Bridge of Spies, making this only the second Spielberg film without a Williams score (the other is The Color Purple).
2. Spielberg’s next movie, which is currently filming and tentatively due out next summer, is an adaptation of the Roald Dahl children’s novel The BFG.
Bridge of Spies opens on October 16th, the same month that has recently given us awards-contenders like Gone Girl, Gravity, Captain Phillips and Argo.