Teaching “Mission” with a Movie – Bridge of Spies

Theatrical Release Poster
Theatrical Release Poster

I love to use movies to teach.  Students don’t expect it!  Especially with more popular movies.  Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks is one movie that is definitely going into my collection.  I teach a leadership class as well as a WWII class and it would work well with both.  And the best part about this movie is that it is based on actual events.

Tom Hanks character, James Donovan, is an insurance lawyer that is asked to defend a Russian spy.  He is told that it is important that the spy is seen to be given a fair trial.  This was a hard decision for Donovan to make but once he did he took it very seriously.  He got to know his client and respected him.  He also, even when faced with society’s and friends’ hatred and misunderstanding, fought for what was right.  He was able to save his client’s life by going the extra mile.

By saving this man’s life, Donovan was put in the position to save even more lives, even though it risked his own.  The story takes place during the cold war when the USSR, East Germany, and the US aren’t really talking to each other.  In order to save the lives of two young American men, Donovan fights for their release in exchange for his client.

So how does this teach mission?  Winston Churchill once said, “To every man comes a time, that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a special thing, unique to him and fitted to his talent.”  So many men and women don’t take the chances that they are offered.  James Donovan did.  He was sick, cold, poorly treated by every government he encountered and yet he knew he had a purpose, a mission.  And he worked to fulfill it.

Go see the movie and let me know what you think!  And take you youth to see it too and talk about it with them.  It could be an amazing discussion!

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