i finally got round to watching the original Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. It’s an uncanny film, even better than the book i would say, and the book served as my introduction to spy thrillers back in 2006. Previously, the only “genre fiction” i liked was Fantasy. i felt weirdly gripped by le Carré, as by Tolkien in my teens. There is an odd power about such books, as if you are reading your own story (in a sense, i am). A sample scene from the original TTSS:

i then tried to watch the modern BBC version. i got halfway through before realising i hadn’t enjoyed anything and most likely wouldn’t enjoy the second half either, and so stopped. It has fine actors and beautiful cinematography, as you can see here:

but it’s badly done. In the book and original, Peter Guillam is a 40-something strongman/officer, a lady’s man with a fast car, somewhat weathered but fundamentally ordinary, decent, a good foil to Smiley. A good scene from the 1979 version, where he is intercepted by one of the top brass and a henchman (6.20-8.00):

In the modern version, he’s an effete, weird-looking pansy who looks like a backing dancer for Sigur Ros:

i didn’t get far enough in the modern version, but i gather the BBC decided to make Guillam a wailing homosexual, in complete and total contrast to the womanising Guillam of the books, and the stalwart Guillam of the 1979 film. Well, at least they didn’t decide to revision Smiley as a Jamaican drug addict, just to complete their multicultural propaganda quota.

i hear a lot about the BBC’s Communist bias but since i rarely read it i’ve been largely spared any direct experience. So far in the 2011 TTSS, there was an openly heterosexual character remade as a wailing gaylord, and one mention of the Americans torturing Karla (the Russian spymaster) – not in the original and, as far as i remember, not in the book either. After a while, even nice cinematography and Gary Oldman can’t compensate. The modern version, in short, is a crock of shite.