B efore I get into my thoughts of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. If you are not familiar with John le Carré’s work let’s cover some groundwork early on - despite what the marketing for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy would have you believe - George Smiley codename Beggar-man (an indication of his character status) the lead played by Gary Oldman is not a super star spy. He is an experienced spy but has become a bureaucratic worker, more of a long suffering office worker who has had it rough having lost his job as well as his wife. He is more of a hard pressed upon tragic everyman filling his life with routine.
I guess I associate le Carré and high quality because of my Father. My dad is a huge fan of John le Carré’s works and even though he grew up in the shadow of the times featured in le Carré’s books, his affinity never really rubbed off on me. I grew up in the sea and on the beaches of South Africa a world away from the grey and drab spy world of the cold war. Besides James Bond on a wet bike, with a cheeky wink & grin in between shooting villains was a lot cooler (despite Roger Moore’s bell bottoms and nylon suits). If anything I thought I would get around to reading those mature, stuffy books at some point probably when I was older and more stuffy.
Well I am older now. And free of preconceptions about Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor.
So when I heard that Tomas Alfredson the man behind Let the right one in and the top tier cast that was to be involved (Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds) how could I not look forward to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy?
Then the trailer came out - t should be noted I try not to watch trailers anymore if I can help it – they erode my viewing pleasure but I was completely spell bound by the engrossing atmosphere created by the performances, crisp visuals and spine tingling violin stabs. I managed to catch a talk with Screen writer Peter Straughan and Producer Robyn Slovo at Empire’s Big Screen as well as the 3 clips they brought along read more here!
Around this time I got concerned. Nothing that I had seen or knew about Tinker, Tailor had, well made it seem it would be anything less than a 5 star and outstanding cinematic achievement. Were my expectations being raised too high? Would that be the downfall of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy?
Lights dim, I take my seat and away we go.
As one would glean from the trailer and the talent involved Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is pure class from beginning to end. Tomas Alfredson immerses us in the shadowy, paranoia steeped grey world of post second world war life at the height of the Cold War. A time when the victorious former allies had divvied up the intellectual and technical remnants of the Nazi war machine and then turned on each other as the race for global dominance heated up.
Within this world, the focus of the story is the MI6, the British government intelligence organisation, whose main preoccupation is keeping us safe from tentacles of communism. Codenamed The Circus because of their proximity to Cambridge Circus in London. Since fighting in trenches is no longer needed The Circus are our first and seemingly only line of defence against the rising tide of communism and its nefarious activities. The world they live in is morally grey and they live by idioms such as; “Loose lips sink ships”, “Silence means security”, “Careless Talk Costs Lives”