Saturday, 24 September 2011

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

tinker tailor

I remember reading this book as soon as it came out in paperback in 1974. It wasn’t the first in the George Smiley series, in fact it comes near the end but it is the most famous, thanks to the 1979 television series, starring Sir Alec Guinness – known to some of you as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars series.  When we heard that it was being made into a film, we were both sceptical that anyone could replace ‘our’ Smiley.

It’s like watching Dr Who. We all have ‘our’ Doctor and take a little while to accept the new one after regeneration.  Gary Oldman as George Smiley?  We shook our heads and tutted in true Grumpy Old Folks style.

Colin Firth as Bill Haydon?  H’mm, possibly. 

Benedict Cumberbatch as Peter Guillam?  Maybe. 

Kathy Burke as Connie Sachs?  Yes, definitely.

We’re not great Cinema goers, in fact I can’t recall what we saw last or when it was.  We usually wait for the DVD to come out so we can watch as often as we like (and pause it to get cups of coffee when we want them).  This time, though, we decided to make the trek to Batley and see Tinker, Tailor on the Big Screen.

It was well worth it and, in my opinion, it is better than the TV series. Gary Oldman avoided channelling Sir Alec Guinness and, by the end of the two hours that the film ran, he was ‘our’ George Smiley.

Colin Firth was a believable Bill Haydon, arrogant and tortured by turns.  No more than I would have expected from the definitive Mr D’Arcy.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays a very lively Sherlock Holmes in the current TV series but his portrayal of Peter Guillam brought out the essential qualities of calmness and determination that I recall from the book, proving that he is one of those rare actors who can stand absolutely still and still project his role.

We went to the 16:30 performance – us oldies, need to get home before it’s dark.  There were about 20 people in the audience, most of them Senior Citizens and as we were leaving there was some chit-chat and it felt like a private viewing.

Oh, before I forget, the 37 year old mystery is solved.  We now know who shot Bill Haydon. 

As RiverSong would say “Spoilers.”

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