Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: John le Carré

I am going to try something a little different this week by mixing things up. This review is going to be mainly about the book, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the 1974 classic by John le Carré, alongside a partial review of the 2011 film. The book is a product of British Cold War culture, as it is influenced by the fear of a nuclear war in Europe and a time of espionage. This book is the fifth in a series of books featuring the character of George Smiley, an ageing British intelligence officer who must attempt to discover the mole at the top of the ‘Circus’, the head office of the agency.

I had read The Spy Who Came in From the Cold at an earlier date- having enjoyed the twists and turns of this book I decided to sample more of le Carré and his version of espionage. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy did not fail to deliver as an initially slow start develops into a fast paced and complicated who-dunnit. Once I managed to get myself comfortable with this book I found it increasingly difficult to put this down, as le Carré transports the reader upon a journey with Smiley and Peter Guillam to the heart of the intelligence agency.

Now let me turn to the film directed by Tomas Alfredson. After promising reviews on-line and a star-studded cast which includes Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Colin Firth, Kathy Burke and Benedict Cumberbatch, I expected a lot from the film, especially by coming to it after having read the book. Unfortunately, I was to be disappointed. The film contained little plot, being composed more of ‘interesting’ camera angles and establishing a homosexual aspect to Guillam, a departure from the book. I felt that the character development that was unearthed throughout the book was sadly lacking, with the film glossing over much of Jim Prideaux’s existence and makes the final big reveal difficult to believe. Perhaps this film would have stood up better if watched prior to the knowledge.


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