What's the Difference between Bridge of Spies the Book and Bridge of Spies the Movie?


Bridge of Spies

Released: 2010
Author: Giles Whittell

Bridge of Spies

Released: 2015
Director: Steven Spielberg
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In the Book In the Movie
Rudolf Abel
Rudolf Abel
Portrayed by: Mark Rylance
Reino Häyhänen
This Character does not appear.
Barbara Powers
This Character does not appear.
Oliver Powers
This Character does not appear.
James Donovan
James Donovan
Portrayed by: Tom Hanks
Francis Gary Powers
Francis Gary Powers
Portrayed by: Austin Stowell
Wolfgang Vogel
Wolfgang Vogel
Portrayed by: Sebastian Koch
Mary Donovan
Mary Donovan
Portrayed by: Amy Ryan
Frederic Pryor
Frederic Pryor
Portrayed by: Will Rogers
Ivan Schischkin
Ivan Schischkin
Portrayed by: Mikhail Gorevoy
Marvin Makinen
This Character does not appear.
Bridge of Spies Book vs Movie
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This Spoils the Ending
In the Book In the Movie
   Vilyam Fisher is betrayed by his drunken deputy spy Hayhanen after he is called back to Russia. Hayhanen instead defects to the USA while in France. Fisher takes the alias Rudolf Abel when arrested by the INS Abel is followed by the FBI and eventually arrested. No other Russian spies are depicted in the movie.
   The hollow nickel had a small hole in one side so a needle could be used to open it. Abel opens the hollow nickel by using a razor blade to pry it apart.
   Abel is naked when arrested. Abel is arrested while dressed in underwear.
   Abel is arrested by the INS after refusing to speak to the FBI in June 1957. Abel is arrested by the FBI.
   Abel is able to destroy other evidence while the FBI allows him to tidy up his room. The hollow nickel message was found by a paperboy and turned over to the police, then to the FBI. It was not decoded until Abel was betrayed by Hayhanen who provided the keyword. The FBI foolishly allows Able to destroy the hollow nickel message after his arrest.
   Powers was polygraphed as a civilian employee of the USAF in January 1956 prior to Abel's arrest in 1957, not after as depicted in the movie. Powers is shown being polygraphed by the CIA while in uniform.
   This did not happen. Donovan was followed in NY by a man who warned him about taking the Abel case.
   This did not happen. The crowd observing Abel's sentencing loudly objected to no death penalty.
   This did not happen. Donovan's house is subjected to a drive by shooting after the verdict.
   A poison pill was first issued to the pilots who were not required to use it or even take it with. Later on a poison needle was issued to those who wished to carry it. Powers only carried it on his last flight. The U-2 pilots are shown a poison needle hidden inside of a silver dollar and told to use it if they are forced down over Russia.
   Only one missile was launched from the SAM site that destroyed Power's U-2. Other SAM sites launched missiles at a MiG which crashed. Two or three missiles were shot at Power's U-2, one of them exploding and destroying the aircraft.
   Donovan argued Abel's appeal in November 1959, Powers was shot down on 1 May 1960. Donovan appears to have argued the Abel appeal at the Supreme Court on the same day as the U-2 was shot down.
   The book has details about events on various dates. The only time a date (1960) is mention in the movie is during Power's sentencing by the Russian court.
   James Donovan has three daughters and a son named John. His son was 18 in 1962. Donovan has a teenage daughter and pre-teen boy (Roger) and girl. The children do not appear to age at all during the events of the five years the film depicts.
   Frederic Pryor was 28 years old when arrested exiting a woman's apartment while trying to deliver a message. Frederic Pryor is depicted as 25 when arrested while in possession of a camera in East Germany near the wall.
   No mention of Mrs Donovan being worried about the London/East Berlin trip in 1962 although he keeps the Germany portion a secret from his wife. Donovan covers for his trip to Germany by telling his wife he is going to London for business, She is not convinced and is worried.
   Donovan was also trying to get Marvin Makinen released in addition to Powers and Pryor. Donovan was only trying to obtain the release of Powers and Pryor.
   While walking to the Soviet Embassy in East Berlin, Donovan spots a gang of youths but manages to avoid them. Donovan is accosted by a gang of young men who steal his overcoat.
   Power's interrogation ended prior to the trial. He was then sent to prison and had a cellmate. He was not questioned while in prison after his sentencing. Powers is brutally interrogated after he is sentenced to prison, including bright lights and water thrown on him. He is alone in his cell.
   Vogel is stopped for what he claims is speeding, Donovan never gets out of the car. While Vogel is driving Donovan back to the West Berlin gate, he is stopped by the police who detain Donovan for a while at a jail.
   Donovan never personally observes this happening. Donovan observes East German guards killing people attempting to escape across the wall.
   Donovan and Abel are accompanied at the exchange point on the bridge by a 6' 7” 300 pound man from the Federal Bureau of Prisons and another U-2 pilot who can identify Powers. Donovan is accompanied by Abel, Murphy (U-2 pilot) and several agency men of regular stature on Gleinicker Bridge for the prisoner exchange.
   Men from each side go forward to personally identify Abel and Powers. Powers mistakes Murphy for Bill, but is able to recall the names of his mother, wife and dog when Murphy asks. While waiting for the exchange to happen, men on each side identify the man to be exchanged while staying on their own side of the bridge.
   While on the bridge for the prisoner exchange, there is a 30 minute delay, but they just wait. Donovan has a jovial conversation with one of the Russians while waiting. When the exchange is about to take place on the bridge there is a delay while waiting for Pryor to be released at Checkpoint Charlie. Abel refuses to leave until Pryor is released.
   Abel sends a gift of books to Donovan six months after he returns to Russia. Donovan visits Russia years later but is unable to meet Abel as he is working elsewhere in the country. Abel gives Donovan a painting as a parting gift.
   Pryor is brought to his father at Checkpoint Charlie. Pryor is released into the custody of a man dressed in a suit.
   Powers thanks Donovan for his help. When Powers tells Donovan he might need a lawyer when he gets home Donovan says he can be retained as Power's counsel annually for one Virginia baked ham. On the plane ride out of Germany, Powers seeks absolution from Donovan by saying he never revealed secret information to the Russians.
   Powers divorced his wife soon after returning to the USA. He flew U-2's for Lockheed for several years after he was released by the CIA and given his back pay. End titles tell of Power's death in a helicopter crash in 1977 and subsequent awards given to him by the CIA in 2000.
   After returning to Russia, Abel was employed by the Illegals Directorate of the KGB's First Chief Directorate, giving speeches and lecturing school children on intelligence work Nothing is said about Abel's life after returning to Russia
   Pryor was studying East German economics. He was accused of spying as he didn't have authorization to read the books he used as a source for his work. By the twisted mentality of the East Germans, Pryor was obviously guilty and treated as such. Pryor is depicted as innocent.
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