How and why Hollywood distorts history (Bridge of Spies, The Imitation Game, Munich and others)

Bridge of Lies
by Kyle Smith
December 14, 2015

Midway through Steven Spielberg’s Cold War picture Bridge of Spies, the upstanding lawyer Jim Donovan (Tom Hanks) suffers a shocking attack when his Brooklyn house is raked with gunfire. Donovan has been working selflessly and, according to the movie, patriotically, as the legal counsel to the Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance). Then nothing happens. After the gunfire attack, neither Donovan nor anyone else seems particularly interested in finding the culprits and bringing them to justice…Those bullets never flew. There is no mention of any such attack in Donovan’s 1964 book Strangers on a Bridge, the primary source material for the movie...Anyone who has made a habit of comparing fact-based films with their real-life antecedents can hardly avoid noticing the shamelessness with which Hollywood alters history both for the sake of a better yarn and to suit its political, indeed polemical, purposes. READ MORE

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