Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Espionage is a dangerous game. ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’, the new spy thriller by director Tomas Alfredson, (Let The Right One In) is based on the first of John le Carré’s best selling spy novels by the same name. John le Carré wrote over 20 novels and was himself a former member of Britain’s MI5 and MI6 working undercover at the height of the Cold War. His work is considered to be the most credible of the Cold War spy genre. He wanted the movie to portray something new and not just to be a remake of the BBC TV Series of the same name. He created the character of George Smiley in 1961 and the book Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was published in 1974.This novel was first adapted for the hugely popular BBC TV series in 1979 starring Alec Guinness. Alec Guinness’s performance as George Smiley became legendary. Gary Oldman was delighted to put his own unique stamp on the role. The movie has a superb lineup of cinematic British Royalty including Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, and Mark Strong. The story is loosely based on actual historical events. It is complex and requires the audience to carefully follow the plot and all its intricacies.
The names “tinker”, “tailor” and “soldier” are taken from the children’s’ nursery rhyme and are code names assigned to senior intelligence officers who are under suspicion of being Soviet moles by Smiley (code name Spy). Control (John Hurt) is the Circus Chief and leader at the highest level of the British Intelligence Secret Service. Murder, deceit and illicit love affairs go hand in hand with espionage. British agent Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy) while on assignment in Turkey falls for the wife of a high- ranking Soviet officer and gains crucial intelligence information from her about the possibility of a high-ranking Soviet mole within the Circus. This mole is responsible for the sabotage of Operation Testify and the murder of Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong). The mole has to be identified but everyone is a suspect. This is a movie about loyalty and ideals. It operates on a very subtle level, touching deeply into the bonds of loyalty and trust between intelligence officers. They play a very dangerous, high stakes game in a lonely world where the ultimate sacrifice may be required at any time.
Ricki Tarr teams up with Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch) and retired agent George Smiley (Gary Oldman) to secretly investigate where the mole is within the Circus. Percy Alleline (Toby Jones) ‘tinker’, Head of the Circus or any of his deputies Bill Haydon (Colin Firth) ‘Tailor’, Roy Bland (Ciaran Hinds) ‘Soldier’ or Toby Esterhase (David Dencik) ‘Poor Man’, could be the mole. Percy Haydon’s rise to the head of the Circus is suspicious to Smiley ‘ Spy’, who thinks he may have used false Soviet intelligence from a source code named “Merlin”. It is in Circus’ interest to cover up any rumors of a mole to protect the real mole.
Venice Film Festival Press Conference highlights:
Director Tomas Alfredson confessed that the book is, as with many books, much too dense and complicated to make a film from it. You have to find a strand that you can follow from the story. Screenwiters Peter Straughan and Bridget O’Connor did an amazing job. Many of the new scenes come from anecdotal material. It was an extraordinary opportunity for all the cast to work together in a manner that is very subtle. Garry Oldman says all the material is really right there in the book; it provided such fabulous source material, a tribute to John le Carré’s skill as an author and to the screenwriters. The Cold War period was a reality for many of the cast as was the period immediately following the end of the war in England. They remember the era well even if they were very young. There was a huge neurosis about what was happening in Russia.
John Hurt said that the movie is really an essay on being male in that type of workplace. It is really a very lonely job. You have only the loyalty and trust of your colleagues to depend on.
The movie website is worth a visit: