Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tinker Tailor and the Oscars

Sir Alec Guinness as George Smiley (1982)
There is no doubt that Gary Oldman in the 2011 film version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes a good Smiley, which is praise considering the impeccable acting in the BBC's 7 part serial in 1982 of Sir Alec Guinness in that part.
But that is about as far as the 2011 production goes as a film worthy of an Oscar, or for that matter a BAFTA.
The BAFTAs were perhaps kind with the Best Adapted Screenplay and the Outstanding British Film. The Oscars, for once, got it right, with nominations but no Oscars.
The BBC serial had the luxury of around 5 hours and 15 mins to get the story across with all its nuances, and the individuality of the various characters. From the start, the 2011 film at 2 hours and 7 minutes was at a disadvantage, and there were things about it which were downright irritating. The very reason that the Circus was the Circus was because it was in Cambridge Circus, not some monumental building elsewhere which bore no resemblance to a circus, in the building sense. Gwillam was suddenly gay, but early in the film admires a passing attractive girl, and why did Gwillam (the gay) have to give up his boy friend? And no attempt was made (probably because of the time element) to display the various characters which made up the Circus "team" if it can be called a team.  Better understanding of the team in particular might have helped the viewer to understand how it could be that a Russian mole was able to survive within the Circus for many years at a high level without being uncovered.
There were nevertheless some good performances in the film version.
So when will the BBC re-issue their original (and in my opinion better) version of Tinker Tailor, originally filmed presumably on 16mm film and now capable of being scanned to a High Definition standard. I for one would be pleased to see it coming out in BluRay, even if the format remains at 4:3 and the sound is still mono. These do nothing to inhibit a really top quality and classic version of what is a very good story.