Directed by Tomas Alfredson, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) is a film adaptation of the 1974 spy novel by John le Carré. A compelling portrait of the quiet, solitary agent George Smiley, the film explores the efforts of a retired spy in search of a Soviet mole within the British Intelligent Service. By means of flashbacks, multiple plotlines and characters, Alfredson paints a complex but refined picture of the callous world of corruption and betrayal, against the bleak backdrop of Cold War Britain. The film was met with astonishing reviews, receiving three Academy Award nominations (Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Original Score) in 2011.
Listening to the score evokes the brooding image of a dark, smoky jazz bar in days long gone by, and this feeling of melancholy is surely affirmed by the sepia-toned world within the film, a world that consists of brown and grey-hued tones, foggy streets and nervous, chain-smoking men.
The score for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was created by Alberto Iglesias, a Spanish composer otherwise known for his classical, discordant compositions in The Constant Gardener (2005) and The Kite Runner (2007). Unlike the scores for the latter two films, however, the score for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is more focused and demure, making less use of fast strings. Pieces like “George Smiley” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” feature mellow piano and sax-driven melodies, fitting in with Smiley’s calm and observant nature and the film’s slow approach to storytelling. However, this also builds up tension and gives in to an underlying feeling of paranoia when the strings do ultimately kick in.
Other songs like “Esterhase” and “Control and Westerby” are more dynamic and bombastic, making use of dissonant tones that, like the film, occasionally straddle the line of incoherence (note that in the film, the only way of knowing whether you’re watching a flashback or not is Smiley’s change of glasses). A quiet violence always underlies the music, mirroring the gloomy ambiance of the film as well as the disenchantment of 1970s Britain in the Cold War.
We’re pleased to reveal that Iglesias’ score for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is the first edition of our monthly Secret Soundtrack subscription plan, now for the first time ever available on vinyl! The score is Zavvi exclusive and there’s only 500 copies available, each of which is individually numbered and stickered. The record is a first pressing on 180g coloured vinyl, released by Silva Screen Records, and can now be bought on Zavvi.com!