A Matter of Trust: The Bridge to Russia [Celluloid Hero]
In 1987, the USA and the USSR had been locked in a Cold War for about four decades. Both sides used a lot of propaganda to promote their ideals while mocking the other side. After so many years, the people on both sides started to doubt the views given by their government and considered that the “enemy” might not be so different from themselves.
Billy Joel became the spokesperson for truth, justice, and the American way. When you look back at the biggest acts of 1987, Joel was definitely near the top. U2 had just released “The Joshua Tree”, so their status as the greatest band in the world was just at the onset. Bon Jovi also released “Slippery When Wet”, so they hadn’t yet achieved that level of world-touring stadium-rocking gods. Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and George Michael might not have had the type of impact concert promoters were looking for. Other than maybe Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel was the optimal choice to reach out to the Soviet people and shake their musical hand.
Joel was inspired by an earlier story of a classical pianist from America who entered a music competition in Soviet Russia decades earlier, and won. The victory began some of the infatuation between the common people of each country. While the government enforced the feud, everyday people realized that they had things in common with eachother.
The documentary bounces between footage of the series of shows Joel performed in Russia, interspersed with current interview of Joel, his band, the concert promoters, the stage crew, even Joel’s personal interpreter. He get home movie footage of Joel’s then-wife Christie Brinkley and their daughter Alexa who was just over a year old at the time. There is also footage of the various Russians that Joel met, interacted, and formed some close bonds with.
If you’re a Billy Joel fan, you will really enjoy this documentary. The live concert footage looks and sounds amazing. The modern-day interviews with Joel and his band members are great, and all the behind-the-scenes moments taken from 1987 are interesting. Even if you’re not a huge Joel fan, this provides a compelling view of the political climate of the time, and how music can unite people. That sounds cliche, but it’s still true.
On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, “A Matter of Trust: The Bridge to Russia” gets a 8 out of 10.