Monday, 19 March 2012

Adaptations of Adaptations: Do They Really Work?

I must be the last person on earth to do so, but I have only just got round to watching last year's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier,Spy with Oldman, Hurt, the inevitable Firth et al.  I had intended to see it at the cinema but circumstances conspired against me at the time, and I've had the DVD sitting on a shelf for weeks now waiting for a suitable moment.  I did try watching it a couple of weeks ago, but had had too much to drink (frankly) and fell asleep, not before registering some disquiet at what I'd seen.  At the time I put this down to the drink, but I was much more sober last night when I tried again, and, sure enough, the disquiet remains.
    I'll come out with it - I don't like this version.  I don't like the actors in these roles - don't get me wrong, they're all great actors, but they don't fit the characters who have been hard wired into my brain from reading the novel and then watching the BBC adaptation.  It's not just that Alec Guinness will forever be Smiley, I just can't sanction John Hurt as Control, or the ubiquitous Firth as Bill Haydon.  I've seen him too often and he's always the same character.  Bernard Hepton will forever be toby Esterhase, not this guy whose name I don't even know.  And sorry, but Jim Prideaux doesn't look like this, and, more importantly, he was shot in an ambush in the forest, not in some trendy shopping mall in Budapest, which would not have existed during the Cold War.  What's that about?
    I turned it off.  I may watch the rest when I'm feeling less combatative.  More likely I'll re-read the book again and get the BBC version out of the library.

1 comment:

  1. Rest assured, you weren't the only one to come late to this film. I had to have several goes before I could watch this through. There are many things wrong with it, not least of which is the sheer lack of weight of some of the actors.

    It does have the heavy atmosphere you'd expect of a cold war thriller, but somehow it seems very artificial.

    On the subject of adaptations of adaptations (though not a British film) I felt a similar problem watching the recent Great Gatsby with DiCaprio. No weight and authority. I must be getting old.