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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy British theatrical release posterDirected by Tomas AlfredsonProduced by
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a 2011 Cold War espionage film directed by Tomas Alfredson. The screenplay was written by Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan, based on John le Carré's 1974 novel of the same name. The film, starring Gary Oldman as George Smiley, along with Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Ciarán Hinds, and featuring David Dencik, is set in London in the early 1970s and follows the hunt for a Soviet double agent at the top of the British secret service.
The film was produced through the British company Working Title Films and financed by France's StudioCanal. It premiered in competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival. A critical and commercial success, it was the highest-grossing film at the British box office for three consecutive weeks. It won the BAFTA Award for Best British Film. The film also received three Academy Awards nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, and for Oldman, Best Actor.
The novel had previously been adapted into the award-winning BBC TV miniseries Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979) with Alec Guinness playing the lead role of Smiley.Contents
In October 1973, "Control", head of British intelligence (referred to as "The Circus"), sends agent Jim Prideaux to Budapest to meet a Hungarian general wishing to defect. Prideaux is shot and presumed killed. Amidst the international incident that follows, Control and his right-hand man George Smiley are forced into retirement. Control dies of illness shortly afterward. Smiley's wife Anne is having an affair with his colleague Bill Haydon and has moved out.
Percy Alleline becomes the new Chief, Bill Haydon his deputy, and Roy Bland and Toby Esterhase his lieutenants. Despite Control and Smiley's misgivings, their successors have already begun a secret operation—"Witchcraft"—to obtain highly sensitive information from the Soviet Union, which is in turn being traded with the CIA for American intelligence. Smiley is enlisted by Cabinet Office civil servant Oliver Lacon to investigate a claim by Ricki Tarr, a British spy, that for years there has been a mole in a senior role in the Circus, a suspicion that Control had held too, but had not shared with Smiley. Smiley chooses a trustworthy agent, Peter Guillam, and retired Special Branch officer Mendel to help him. He interviews former Circus analyst Connie Sachs, who was sacked by Alleline after she deduced that Alexei Polyakov, a Soviet cultural attaché in London, was a spy.
Tarr tells Smiley that on an assignment in Istanbul, he had an affair with Irina, a Soviet agent. She wanted to reveal the name of a mole in the top ranks of the Circus but when Tarr reported this to London, they ignored him and ordered him straight home, while the Soviets promptly kidnapped Irina. Concluding that the mole had intercepted his message, Tarr went into hiding, suspected of defecting and murdering the British station chief. Smiley sends Guillam to steal the Circus logbook for the night Tarr had called and finds the pages for that night have been cut out, supporting Tarr's story. Smiley discovers that Prideaux is alive, having been exchanged with the Soviets after a period of brutal interrogation, and is living a life of solitude as a school teacher. Smiley interviews Prideaux, who reveals that the true purpose of the mission to Hungary was to get the name of the mole. Control had codenamed the suspects "Tinker" (Alleline), "Tailor" (Haydon), "Soldier" (Bland), "Poorman" (Esterhase), and "Beggarman" (Smiley).
Smiley learns that Alleline, Haydon, Bland, and Esterhase have been meeting Polyakov—the "Witchcraft" source—at a safe house somewhere in London, where Polyakov gives them supposedly high-grade Soviet intelligence, in exchange for low-grade British material to help him maintain his cover with the Soviets. However, the mole is actually passing substantive material, including US intelligence, to Polyakov, his handler, whilst Polyakov's material has just enough substance to persuade the CIA to share information with the British. Smiley blackmails Esterhase with a threat of deportation to get the safe house's location. Smiley then has Tarr appear at the Paris office, implying he knows who the mole is. The mole is revealed to be Haydon when he meets Polyakov at the safe house, where Smiley captures him. The Circus plans to exchange Haydon with the Soviets but he is killed by Prideaux, avenging his betrayal by his once closest friend. Smiley returns to the Circus as its new chief. He comes home to find Anne having returned to him.Cast
The project was initiated by Peter Morgan when he wrote a draft of the screenplay, which he offered to Working Title Films to produce. Morgan dropped out as the writer for personal reasons but still served as an executive producer. Following Morgan's departure as writer, Working Title hired Peter Straughan and Bridget O'Connor to redraft the script. Park Chan-wook considered directing the film, but ultimately turned it down. Tomas Alfredson was confirmed to direct on 9 July 2009. The production is his first English language film. The film was backed financially by France's StudioCanal and had a budget corresponding to $21 million. The film is dedicated to O'Connor, who died of cancer during production.Blythe House, the exterior of "The Circus" Casting
The director cast Gary Oldman in the role of George Smiley, and described the actor as having "a great face" and "the quiet intensity and intelligence that's needed". Many actors were connected to the other roles at various points, but only days before filming started, Oldman was still the only lead actor who officially had been contracted. David Thewlis was in talks for a role early on. Michael Fassbender was in talks at one point to star as Ricki Tarr, but the shooting schedule conflicted with his work on X-Men: First Class; Tom Hardy was cast instead. On 17 September 2010, Mark Strong was confirmed to have joined the cast. Jared Harris was cast but had to drop out because of scheduling conflicts with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows; he was replaced by Toby Jones. John le Carré appears in a cameo as a guest in a party scene.The Párizsi Udvar in Budapest, setting for the Hungarian café scene Filming
Principal photography took place between 7 October and 22 December 2010. Studio scenes were shot at a former army barracks in Mill Hill, North London. Blythe House in Kensington Olympia, West London, was used as the exterior for "The Circus." The interior hall of Budapest's Párizsi Udvar served as the location for the café scene, in which Jim Prideaux is shot. Empress Coach Works in Haggerston was used as the location for the Merlin safe house. Other scenes were filmed on Hampstead Heath and in Hampstead Ponds, where Smiley is shown swimming, and in the physics department of Imperial College London.
The events which take place in Czechoslovakia in the novel were moved to Hungary, because of the country's 20% rebate for film productions. The teams filmed in Budapest for five days. Right before Christmas, the team also filmed in Istanbul for nine days. The production reunited Alfredson with cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema and editor Dino Jonsäter, with whom he had made his previous film Let the Right One In.Post-production
The film took six months to edit. The final song in the film, Julio Iglesias' rendition of the French song "La Mer", set against a visual montage of various characters and subplots being resolved as Smiley strides into Circus headquarters to assume command, was chosen because it was something the team thought George Smiley would listen to when he was alone; Alfredson described the song as "everything that the world of MI6 isn't". A scene where Smiley listens to the song was filmed, but eventually cut to avoid giving it too much significance.Release Gary Oldman at the Venice International Film Festival for the premiere
The film premiered in competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival on 5 September 2011. StudioCanal UK distributed the film in the United Kingdom, where it was released on 16 September 2011. The US rights were acquired by Universal Pictures, which have a permanent first-look deal with Working Title, and they passed the rights to their subsidiary Focus Features. Focus planned to give the film a wide release in the United States on 9 December 2011 but pushed it to January 2012, when it was given an 800 screen release.Critical response
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy received generally positive reviews. The film scored 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 217 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The site's summary called the film "a dense puzzle of anxiety, paranoia, and espionage that director Tomas Alfredson pieces together with utmost skill". Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating in the 0–100 range based on reviews from top mainstream critics, calculated an average score of 85 based on 42 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".
Jonathan Romney of The Independent wrote, "The script is a brilliant feat of condensation and restructuring: writers Peter Straughan and the late Bridget O'Connor realise the novel is overtly about information and its flow, and reshape its daunting complexity to highlight that". David Gritten of The Daily Telegraph declared the film "a triumph" and gave it a five star rating, as did his colleague, Sukhdev Sandhu. Stateside, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote, "As Alfredson directs the expert script by Peter Straughan and Bridget O'Connor, the film emerges as a tale of loneliness and desperation among men who can never disclose their secret hearts, even to themselves. It's easily one of the year's best films." M. Enois Duarte of High-Def Digest also praised the film as a "brilliant display of drama, mystery and suspense, one which regards its audience with intelligence".
Detractors of the film included Peter Hitchens of The Mail on Sunday, who wrote that the plot would be too baffling for viewers who had not read the book, and that the film's makers had "needlessly messed it up". David Edwards of the Daily Mirror wrote, "The big question – and one le Carré himself asked when the film was announced – is whether such a hefty novel can fit comfortably into a feature-length production. In answering this, the writers have pared things back, meaning it's far pacier than the seven-part TV show. Unfortunately, the plot is every bit as bewildering with an overload of spy-speak, a few too many characters to keep track of and a final act that ends with a whimper, rather than a bang." The Telegraph's Guy Stagg, meanwhile, thought that the movie needed a car chase in the middle. Writing in The Atlantic, le Carré admirer James Parker favourably contrasted Smiley with the James Bond franchise but found this Tinker Tailor adaptation "problematic" compared to the 1979 BBC mini-series. He wrote: "To strip down or minimalize le Carré, however, is to sacrifice the almost Tolkienesque grain and depth of his created world: the decades-long backstory, the lingo, the arcana, the liturgical repetitions of names and functions".Box office
The film topped the British box office chart for three consecutive weeks and earned $80,630,608 worldwide.Awards and honours List of awards and nominations Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Academy Awards 26 February 2012 Best Actor Gary Oldman Nominated Best Adapted Screenplay Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan Nominated Best Original Score Alberto Iglesias Nominated Amanda Award 17 August 2012 Best Foreign Film Tomas Alfredson Nominated American Society of Cinematographers 12 February 2012 Best Cinematography in a Feature Film Hoyte van Hoytema Nominated Art Directors Guild 4 February 2012 Period Film Maria Djurkovic (Production Designer) Nominated British Academy Film Awards 12 February 2012 Best Film Nominated Outstanding British Film Won Best Actor in a Leading Role Gary Oldman Nominated Best Director Tomas Alfredson Nominated Best Adapted Screenplay Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan Won Best Original Music Alberto Iglesias Nominated Best Cinematography Hoyte van Hoytema Nominated Best Editing Dino Jonsater Nominated Best Production Design Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana MacDonald Nominated Best Costume Design Jacqueline Durran Nominated Best Sound Nominated Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema John Hurt Won British Film Bloggers Circle Awards 21 February 2012 Best Film Nominated Best British Film Nominated Best Actor Gary Oldman Nominated Best Director Tomas Alfredson Nominated Best Adapted Screenplay Won British Independent Film Awards 4 December 2011 Best British Independent Film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Nominated Best Director of a British Independent Film Tomas Alfredson Nominated Best Performance by an Actor in a British Independent Film Gary Oldman Nominated Best Technical Achievement Maria Djurkovic (Production Design) Won Best Supporting Actress Kathy Burke Nominated Best Supporting Actor Tom Hardy Nominated Benedict Cumberbatch Nominated British Film Institute 4 December 2011 Top Ten Films Won Best Film 10th Place Burgundy Film Critics Awards 24 February 2013 Best Foreign Film Tomas Alfredson Won Ciak d'oro 6 June 2012 Best Foreign Film Tomas Alfredson Runner-up Chicago Film Critics Association 19 December 2011 Best Actor Gary Oldman Nominated Best Adapted Screenplay Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan Nominated Crime Thriller Awards 18 September 2012 Best Film Won Conch Awards 19 September 2012 Best Film Soundtrack Stephen Griffiths Won Best Film Mix Facility Goldcrest Post Production Nominated Best Sound Design & Editorial Team Andy Shelley and Stephen Griffiths Nominated Denver Film Critics Society 11 January 2012 Best Cast Nominated Best Original Score Alberto Iglesias Nominated Dublin Film Critics Circle Awards 23 December 2011 Top Ten Films Won Best Film 4th Place Top Ten Directors Tomas Alfredson Won Best Director Tomas Alfredson 4th Place Top Ten Actors Gary Oldman Won Best Actor Gary Oldman 3rd Place Empire Awards 25 March 2012 Best Film Nominated Best British Film Won Best Actor Gary Oldman Won Best Director Tomas Alfredson Nominated Best Thriller Won European Film Awards 1 December 2012 Best Actor Gary Oldman Nominated Best Production Design Maria Djurkovic Won Best Cinematography Hoyte van Hoytema Nominated Best Original Score Alberto Iglesias Won People's Choice Award – Best European Film Tomas Alfredson Won Evening Standard British Film Awards 7 February 2012 Best Film Nominated Best Actor Gary Oldman Nominated Best Technical Achievement Maria Djurkovic Nominated Alexander Walker Special Award John Hurt Won Golden Trailer Awards 31 May 2012 Best Drama Trailer Nominated Best Thriller Trailer Nominated Best Independent Poster Won Best Drama Poster Nominated Georgia Film Critics Association 16 January 2012 Best Film Nominated Best Director Tomas Alfredson Nominated Best Actor in a Leading Role Gary Oldman Nominated Best Supporting Actor Tom Hardy Nominated Best Ensemble Cast Won Best Adapted Screenplay Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan Nominated Best Cinematography Hoyte van Hoytema Nominated Best Production Design Maria Djurkovic Nominated Gotham Independent Film Awards 18 November 2011 Gotham Tribute Award Gary Oldman Won Hollywood Film Festival 24 October 2011 Best Composer Alberto Iglesias Won International Chinephile Society 22 February 2012 Best Cast Runner-up Best Adapted Screenplay Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan Won Best Production Design Maria Djurkovic Runner-up Best Original Score Alberto Iglesias Runner-up International Federation of Film Critics Award 10 September 2012 Grand Prix for the best film Tomas Alfredson 9th Place International Online Film Critics' Poll 20 December 2012 Best Film – Motion Picture Won Top Ten Films Won Best Director Tomas Alfredson Won Best Actor in a Leading Role Gary Oldman Won Best Ensemble Cast Won Best Adapted Screenplay Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan Won Best Cinematography Hoyte van Hoytema Nominated Best Production Design Maria Djurkovic Won Best Editing Dino Jonsäter Nominated Best Original Score Alberto Iglesias Nominated Irish Film and Television Awards 11 February 2012 Best International Film Won Actor in a Lead Role in a Feature Film Ciarán Hinds Nominated International Actor Gary Oldman Nominated Italian Online Film Actors & Dubbers Award 1 September 2012 Best Foreign Actor Gary Oldman Won Best Foreign Supporting Actor Tom Hardy Nominated Best Foreign Cast Won Best Male Dubber Stefano De Sando Won Public Choice Award for Best Performance Gary Oldman Won Italy Screenplay Prize 13 July 2012 Best Film Won Top Ten Films Won Best Adapted Screenplay – International Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan Won Special Award for Best Director Tomas Alfredson Won Special Award for Best Performance Gary Oldman Won Las Vegas Film Critics Society 13 December 2011 Best Actor Gary Oldman Nominated Best Screenplay Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan Nominated Best Art Direction Maria Djurkovic Nominated Best Cinematography Nominated Best Editing Dino Jonsater Nominated London Film Critics Circle Award 19 January 2012 Top Ten Film Won Best Film 4th Place Best British Film Nominated Best Actor Gary Oldman Nominated Best British Actor Gary Oldman Nominated Best Screenplay Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan Nominated Best Technical Achievement Maria Djurkovic Won Los Angeles Film Critics Association 11 December 2011 Best Art Direction Maria Djurkovic Runner-up Metacritic Awards 5 January 2012 Best Reviewed Drama 3rd Place Best Reviewed Thriller Won Movie Farm Awards 12 February 2012 Best Actor Gary Oldman Won Music & Sound Awards Best Original Composition in a Film Alberto Iglesias Won Online Film Critics Society Awards 2 January 2012 Best Actor Gary Oldman Nominated Best Adapted Screenplay Won Best Editing Dino Jonsater Nominated Online Film & Television Association 5 February 2012 Best Actor Gary Oldman Nominated Best Adapted Screenplay Won Best Production Design Maria Djurkovic Nominated Best Cast Won Best Casting Jina Jay Won Palm Springs International Film Festival 15 January 2012 Best International Star Gary Oldman Won Phoenix Film Critics Society 27 December 2011 Best Actor Gary Oldman Nominated Premio Cinema Ludus 19 November 2012 Gran Prix for Best Film Tomas Alfredson Won Prix for Best Actor Gary Oldman Won Best European Film Won Best European Director Tomas Alfredson Won Best European Actor Gary Oldman Won Best European Screenplay Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan Won Best European Technical Achievement Maria Djurkovic Won Best Producer Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner Won Richard Attenborough Regional Film Awards 2 February 2012 Best British Film of the year Won Best Actor of the year Gary Oldman Nominated Best British Actor of the year Gary Oldman Won Best Screenplay Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan Won San Francisco Film Critics Circle 25 March 2012 Best Actor Gary Oldman Won Best Adapted Screenplay Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan Won Satellite Award 18 December 2011 Best Film – Motion Picture Nominated Best Director Tomas Alfredson Nominated Best Actor – Motion Picture Gary Oldman Nominated Spanish Film Music Critics Awards 29 June 2012 Best Spanish Composer Alberto Iglesias Won Stockholm Film Festival 20 November 2011 FIPRESCI Award Won Sydney Film Critics 21 December 2011 Top Twenty Unreleased Films Won Best Unreleased Film 4th Place Total Film Hotlist 3 August 2012 Hottest Film Nominated Hottest Actor Benedict Cumberbatch Nominated Hottest Actor Tom Hardy Nominated Venice Film Festival 10 September 2011 Golden Lion Nominated Virgin Media Movie Awards 1 March 2012 Best Film Nominated Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association 5 December 2011 Best Adapted Screenplay Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan Nominated YouMovie Awards 30 June 2012 Best Film Won Best Drama Film Won Best Thriller Won Best Actor in a Leading Role Gary Oldman Won Best Supporting Actor Benedict Cumberbatch Nominated Best Supporting Actor Colin Firth Nominated Best Cast Won Best Villain Colin Firth Nominated Best Director Tomas Alfredson Won Best Trailer Won Best Cinematography Hoyte Van Hoytema Nominated Best Art Direction Maria Djurkovic Nominated Best Screenplay Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan Won Best Costume Design Jaqueline Durran Nominated World Soundtrack Academy 20 October 2012 Best Score of the Year Alberto Iglesias Won Best Composer of the Year Alberto Iglesias Won Possible sequel
While doing press for Working Title's Les Misérables film adaptation, producer Eric Fellner stated that fellow producer Tim Bevan was working with writer Straughan and director Alfredson on developing a sequel to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Fellner did not specify whether or not the sequel would be based on The Honourable Schoolboy or Smiley's People, the two remaining Smiley novels in Le Carré's Karla trilogy. While doing press for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in 2014, Oldman stated that talk of a sequel, an adaptation of Smiley's People, had since disappeared; while also stressing that he would still like to see the film produced. However, in July 2016 Oldman confirmed that the sequel was in its early stages, stating, "There is a script, but I don't know when we will shoot."References