by director Tomas Alfredson
It was hard to decide what film to make after Let the Right One In. But when the idea came up for me to direct an adaptation of John le Carré's spy thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, I was immediately intrigued.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is considered by many to be the iconic espionage novel of the Cold War, and adapting it would be an ambitious and complex challenge. Yet it was John le Carré himself who gave me the best possible advice when we embarked on this journey; he told me not to shoot the film of the book because the book already existed and would continue to exist even if the film we made of it didn't work, so he asked us instead to try to do something new. I think we have obeyed him to the letter.
I believe the film we have made is faithful to the source material but re-imagines it in a way that makes it relevant and dynamic for a contemporary audience. The story is set during the height of the Cold War and explores the paranoid world of spies and their obsession with secrecy. Based loosely on true events, the plot revolves around the discovery that a Soviet mole has infiltrated the highest echelons of MI6, the British secret intelligence service. The narrative revolves around a career spy, George Smiley (Gary Oldman), who is called out of retirement to find the traitor within—one of four men who were once his trusted colleagues. It is perhaps best described as a thinking man's spy thriller, in that the logic of the film is like a puzzle or a riddle that the audience is constantly trying to unravel.
Ultimately, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a film about loyalty, deception, and betrayal within a group of men who are engaged in an elaborate form of psychological warfare with one another...and the deadly real-world consequences of their actions.