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George Smiley has been retired for about a year when he finds a friend from the Circus, his old outfit in British Intelligence, sitting in his living room. He is taken to the home of an advisor to the Prime Minister on intelligence matters, where he finds evidence that one of the men in the senior ranks of his old agency is a Russian spy. Smiley is asked to find him, without official access to any of the files in the Circus or letting on that anyone is under suspicion. With only a few old friends, his own powers of deduction, and secrecy as weapons, Smiley must unearth the spy who turned him out of the Circus. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
The book by John Le Carre is intricate and multi layered and to attempt to film it was brave of the BBC. One wishes they had such courage these days, but that is another story. It is a television masterpiece.
The acting is superb. Alec Guinness was made for the part of George Smiley. From his opening scene in a London bookshop to the last shot of his face he is mesmerising. The supporting cast are the cream of British actors at the time. Some of them only have one scene like John Standing, Beryl Reid, Joss Ackland and Nigel Stock but they become real people before your eyes. Ian Bannen as Jim Prideaux is particularly moving and Hewyl Bennett gives the performance of his life.Even the actors who don't say anything look just right.
It is plainly filmed but that adds to the atmosphere. On the face of it life is normal and ordinary but beneath there is betrayal, anguish, danger and pain. The motif of Russian dolls in the opening credits is good. Dolls with faces, then one without and then an emptiness. In the end Smiley solves the mystery but the mystery of life is beyond him.
The music is great,sparse but edgy. I can watch this time and again and still get something out of it.
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