Bridge of Spies is a Time-Piece!

We have all seen period films and realize that their historical accuracy often leaves much to be desired. Having just viewed Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies recently, I fully recognize that there were some liberties taken with events, dialogue, and so on. However… a huge “However”… this film does not take liberties at all in the way it illustrates the fears, and anxieties of the time period. I recently posted on Facebook that I was sorrowful that I was not presently teaching the Cold War period in my United States II class because I certainly would be assigning its viewing – if not taking them to see it as a field trip. The shroud of anxiety for adults and children of the time is demonstrated in the ‘horror’ of the word “Communism”, in the intensity of the relationship between the two nations, and the and the ‘duck and cover’ exercises the grade school students take to heart. We ‘baby boomers’ remember it all very well, and it is portrayed here with sincerity and honesty.

I happened to grow up in Abington, MA and my school for grades 2-5, and then from 7-9, was about a mile from the Weymouth Naval Air Base. The sound of fighter jets taking off and landing was constant. Air raid drills during school days seemed almost weekly; we never did the ‘duck and cover’ procedure – we always were herded into the corridors where we stood up against the lockered walls and covered our eyes, thinking that if we did not see the flash that we then would be safe. If you believe it, it’s true, right? I also flashed back to the regular “This is a test” broadcast interruption on the radio. I especially went back to the morning I heard the voice state “This is NOT a test. This is a national emergency. Please dial to your nearest broadcast station for further instructions.” I remember at that moment, not but a few years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, stopping my car, getting out and looking to the sky, searching for the missiles that fortunately never came.

It is that feeling that I saw recreated in Bridge of Spies and I think it is worth seeing by everyone, baby-boomers or not.


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