Last Thursday, the Hill Center showed the first two episodes of the 1978 BBC miniseries, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

I read the book once, years ago. And I did see this miniseries, though many years ago and not at an age old enough to entirely understand. And I loved the recent movie.

But this is the difference between a 2+ hour movie and a six episode series. Rather like comparing the Keira Knightley Pride Prejudice with the Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth epics. The first one had its not insignificant charms, but they’re such different animals, it’s wrong to compare.

The host of this showing told us a lovely little gobbet about the production. He said that Alec Guinness was not very good at memorizing his lines and he sat down with the screenwriter and John Le Carre to systematically reduce the number of his lines.

The main joys are seeing things without the shorthand. The movies depend on narrative shorthand, but this can take it’s time. It’s not a long novel, so by making a 5 hour or so long version, the production team is able to less dense in the information it imparts in every scene and to dish it out very slowly and build characters over greater time. Again, less shorthand.

Anyway… episodes three and four will be shown Thursday. I’ll be there.

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