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One for Two

In the new flick Bridge of Spies, Tom Hanks plays the role of New York lawyer James Donovan, who during the Cold War is commissioned to negotiate a prisoner exchange with the Russians. He does more. He negotiates also with the East Germans who have detained an American student, with the result that on the scheduled day of the exchange, he is able to swap one Russian for two Americans. The movie’s endnotes explain that Donovan went on to negotiate a number of other significant prisoner exchanges, the most impressive being the release of more than one thousand prisoners from Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

He reminds me of another Man who worked passionately for the freeing of prisoners, but who bettered the ratios of Donovan. Not one for two, or even one for ten thousand, but one for as many as wanted to be free. In the chill morning on the Calvary Bridge, one Man walked toward the gloom, and thousands walked to freedom.

In the movie, Donovan watched earnestly to see how the Russian would be received. An embrace from the comrades would be a good sign. A cold instruction to sit in the back seat of the car was not. Sadly the vodka was not flowing that day for Donovan’s guy. But in the other story, where the Man gave his life in exchange for the many, I know exactly how it went for the prisoners. The Father rushed forward and embraced them all.

DM 17th November 2015


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