How They Designed Cold War-Era Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies is a far cry, of course, from 12 Years a Slave and The Grand Budapest Hotel, but for Oscar-winning production designer Adam Stockhausen the big advantage was access to real footage of the construction of the Berlin Wall, which has never been depicted before in a Hollywood movie. This was key in recreating an authentic-looking war-torn East Berlin in the Polish town of Breslau, which borders Germany, along with using the actual Glienicke Bridge in Berlin, where the titular swap of spies occurred.

“So much of the Berlin section takes place in East Berlin that it was important to get that look, which we found in Poland,” said Stockhausen, who joined Steven Spielberg’s crew for the first time and is currently designing the director’s sci-fi adventure, Ready Player One, about a virtual video game contest, which stars Olivia Cooke (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) and is due Dec. 15, 2017.

“The Wall was constructed on a large street and with a square and Checkpoint Charlie,” Stockhausen continued. “We filmed the Gary Powers Berlin sequence in the basement of the former KGB prison that is now a museum. Upstairs in the same prison is where we shot the detention cell scene with James Donovan [the Brooklyn attorney played by Tom Hanks, who craftily negotiated the exchange of Powers for Soviet spy Rudolf Abel, portrayed by Mark Rylance]. It was emotionally significant to be shooting in places that were the real thing when we could.”

The critical location was the Glienicke Bridge, which still looks great, but was a challenge because it remains a busy traffic artery. “There aren’t any other ways around it and we were there shooting for a long weekend. We completely shut it down so it took a lot of support from the local government,” Stockhausen said.

Meanwhile, in New York, Stockhausen found the perfect home for Donovan in Brooklyn’s Ditmas Park, with the right visual vocabulary for his lifestyle and family life. “This one had a very nice flow from the front door around through the living room and into the dining room and that worked for several of our scenes where you have that connection.”

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Crafts, Movies, Production Design, Tech, Trailers

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