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Spielberg's Berlin spy epic premieres in New York

Julian Tompkin
October 5, 2015

Steven Spielberg's Cold War spy thriller "Bridge of Spies" has opened in New York to rave reviews. Starring Tom Hanks, the film tells of the near-nuclear fallout after the downing of a US spy plane over the Soviet Union.

Tom Hanks in the Film Bridge of Spie. Copyright: Jaap Buitendijk/DreamWorks II Distribution Co. via AP.
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo/J. Buitendijk

Steven Spielberg is never one to shy away from colossal explosions. Thankfully, however, his new period thriller avoids the big boom. And we can all be glad for it, as it tells the real life story of two nuclear super powers on the precipice.

Reactions to "Bridge of Spies," which premiered at the New York Film Festival on Sunday (04.10.15), however, have been suitably explosive.

Calling the film a "wonderfully uncynical thriller," UK newspaper "The Guardian" gave the film five stars.

Meanwhile, US entertainment bible "Variety" has predicted the film could be another Oscar contender for Spielberg.

The director has won three Academy Awards to date, two for Best Director. His 1993 Oscar-winning Holocaust film "Schindler's List" also earned the director Germany's Federal Cross of Merit.

Written by the UK's Mark Charman and multiple Oscar winners Joel and Ethan Coen, "Bridge of Spies" tells the story of James B. Donovan - an unwitting US lawyer suddenly thrust center stage in one of the biggest real-life dramas of the 20th century: the Cold War.

Donovan (Tom Hanks) is called on to defend a Soviet spy, Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) and subsequently negotiate a prisoner exchange for CIA agent Francis Gay Powers (Austin Stowell). Powers was shot down while on a reconnaissance mission over Soviet territory in 1960, in what would become known as the "1960 U-2 incident."

The film also stars German actor Sebastian Koch as Wolfgang Vogel, Donovan's Soviet counterpart.

Along with the rest of the star-studded cast, Koch came to global prominence for his lead role in the 2007 Academy Award winning Stasi drama "The Lives of Others."

"Bridge of Spies" was partly shot at Potsdam's historic Babelsberg Studios, as well as at Berlin's Glienicke Bridge - the real life setting of the 1962 prisoner exchange between the US and Soviet Union. The film takes its name from the bridge, which was known colloquially during the Cold War as "the Bridge of Spies."

"Bridge of Spies" opens in cinemas internationally on October 16.

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