Fall Movie Preview: Spielberg plunges into the Cold War

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

NEW YORK (AP) — The nearly three year wait since Steven Spielberg's last movie (2012's "Lincoln") comes to an end this October with the spy thriller "Bridge of Spies."

Good news for moviegoers: There won't be another gap like that for a while. Having just locked "Bridge of Spies," Spielberg is already editing his next film, Roald Dahl's "The BFG," and is in pre-production on "Ready Player One," a sci-fi adventure from Ernest Cline's best-seller.

It's a pace that Spielberg, 68, says he plans to continue.

"I'm doing a long stretch of directing over the next several years," Spielberg says. "We put our last child into college. Number seven went to college last week and (wife Kate Capshaw) and I are enjoying the empty nest. It gives her a chance to get more involved with her art — she's a wonderful painter — and it gives me a chance to direct movies back to back now."

"Bridge of Spies," due out Oct. 16, is a new chapter in history for Spielberg and one he knows personally: the Cold War. Tom Hanks stars as James Donovan, a lawyer the CIA recruited to rescue a spy pilot downed in the Soviet Union.

In a recent interview while taking a break from editing "The BFG," the director spoke about making the true-life tale, the unexpected success of "Jurassic World" and his distaste for superhero movies.

AP: What attracted you to "Bridge of Spies"?

Spielberg: I've always wanted to make a spy movie. This is not James Bond. Only James Bond can be James Bond. I've always been fascinated with the entertainment value of the James Bond spy series of movies, as well as the serious John le Carre spy novels, especially the Martin Ritt movie "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold." Also spy pictures like "The Quiller Memorandum" and "The Ipcress File," and "Torn Curtain" by Hitchcock in the '60s.

AP: Were you interested in making a film set during the Cold War?

Spielberg: I lived through the Cold War and I was very aware of the possibility of walking down the street and seeing a white flash and being atomized. I was very, very aware of what a tentative and insecure time it was, especially for young people. It's something that made a big impression on me as a kid. We were shown instructional 16mm films of what to do in the event of the air raid sirens going off or seeing the flash and ducking and covering under your desk and holding, hopefully, a very large book over your head.

AP: Do you see a connection between that time and today?

Spielberg: There's so much relevance between the late '50s and today. We fly drones today; they flew U2 spy planes over Soviet Russia in the '50s. Our story is also about the shooting down of Gary Powers' U2 and the apprehension of a Soviet spy working in this country for over a decade: Rudolph Abel. And the negotiator — a fish-out-of-water — an insurance attorney who used to be the associate prosecutor at the Nuremberg war-crime trials who was called upon to defend an alleged Soviet spy, and the kind of charged atmosphere he was willing to endure to see justice served. It's a story about a very righteous, principled individual — and for Tom Hanks, it's right up his alley.

AP: This is your fourth film with him.

Spielberg: Every collaboration is better than the one before. We're having a great time together.

AP: You caused a stir two years ago when you predicted Hollywood was headed toward an "implosion" because of the over-abundance of mega-budget movies. Do you still feel that way?

Spielberg: I do. I still feel that way. We were around when the Western died and there will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the Western. It doesn't mean there won't be another occasion where the Western comes back and the superhero movie someday returns. Of course, right now the superhero movie is alive and thriving. I'm only saying that these cycles have a finite time in popular culture. There will come a day when the mythological stories are supplanted by some other genre that possibly some young filmmaker is just thinking about discovering for all of us.

AP: Were you surprised by the success of "Jurassic World," on which you were an executive producer?

Spielberg: I'm back in the dinosaur business, it appears. We promised them more teeth and they rewarded us for it. I would have been ecstatic if we had done what the town was expecting, which was a $100 million three-day weekend. That would have just made my whole year. But the fact that it did over twice what the prognosticators were predicting, it just blew me away.

AP: "Bridge of Spies" is the first film in years you've made without John Williams composing the score.

Spielberg: Johnny Williams will be back to do "The BFG." We've only not worked together twice in 42 years. The first one was "The Color Purple" in 1985 and the second time was because Johnny had a small medical procedure that precluded him from writing and scoring my movie in the window that he was going to do it. He's fine, he's 100 percent back to work on "Star Wars," but it sadly precluded him from working on "Bridge of Spies." I was able to work with Thomas Newman, who I'm a huge fan of. This is just a blip and we're both sad about it, but we're excited to get back together for "BFG" now.


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