Called out of retirement to settle the affairs of a friend, Smiley finds his old organization, the Circus, so overwhelmed by political considerations that it doesn't want to know what ...
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Taken from the book by John le Carre, George Smiley rallies to the aid of his former intelligence colleague, Ailsa Brimley, to investigate a mysterious letter from a junion master's wife at... See full summary »
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Called out of retirement to settle the affairs of a friend, Smiley finds his old organization, the Circus, so overwhelmed by political considerations that it doesn't want to know what happened. He begins to follow up the clues of his friends past days, discovering that the clues lead to a high person in the Russian Secret service, and a secret important enough to kill for. Smiley continues to put together the pieces a step ahead or a step behind the Russian killers. Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Judging by the other comments on this site, this episode of the 2 Smiley-BBC productions seems to disappoint some of it's fans. In my opinion, this is only slightly less praiseworthy than Tinker, Tailor and that is due to the previous high standard of its predecessor.
SP has excellent character parts, particularly Bernard Hepton as Tobe Esterhazy, Beryl Reid, and even the maligned Barry Foster as Saul Enderby. (His outstanding scene with Guinness on the roof after the consideration of Smiley's evidence about Karla is outrageously deleted in the Acorn DVD version. It's one one of my favorite moments.) Everyone in this production is outstanding and equal to their forbears in TTSS - almost all of whom are them! The fact that virtually every key person is back reprising their roles says a lot about the quality of this production. Mario Adorf plays another vivid character, Claus Kretschmar. Dammit, every actor is interesting, alive and vivid in this story.
I guess the discrepancy is due to the fact that this is an entirely different sort of thing than TTSS. This also is a detective story but with a different dynamic. Nonetheless the same qualities make this must viewing for every Smiley fan. SP has excellent character parts all of whom add texture to the slow unfolding of this tale. And that is what is good about it - the story unfolds with pieces coming to light after each of Smiley's interviews. (To anyone who has never seen the Smiley stories this might sound like a recipe for boredom, but in fact it is just the opposite. So yeah, you have to pay attention.) Now for the bad news.
The Acorn DVD is a travesty.
With about forty minutes cut and scenes shortened and juxtaposed, this is NOT the Smiley's People that appeared on PBS and the BBC videotape. While the story can be followed and enjoyed to a point, there are moments when the cutting is abrupt and the story jumps with the viewer wondering why some things are happening and 'did I miss something?'. The answer is yes. For example, Villem's part is cut and his reason for going to Hamburg are not explained. The previously mentioned Enderby-Smiley scene is nowhere to be found.
I don't know where or why this particular 'version' of Smiley's People was found or used but it as an extreme disappointment to me and to viewers who are coming new to this film. No wonder it gets such mixed reviews.
With the story stretched to 3 DVDs surely someone should have noticed.
A great film, a very disappointing DVD.
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