This movie is a faithful rendition of one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century. The acting is superb, the sets are suitably austere and atmospheric and the plot is simply a work of genius. Forget all the cliches about this being the real thing compared to Bond movies etc. This is quite simply a different genre. It is a story of brutality and of hopelessness.It illustrates how the exploitation of human weakness can be used as an effective weapon of war. The Cold War is in the throes of being forgotten by all but the academics who study the era, but the manner in which it was fought is fascinating, and as evidenced in later adaptations of Le Carres work by the BBC(Smileys People and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)it required minds of rare intelligence and deviousness. The charachter, Smiley, which is expanded upon in the BBC dramas mentioned above has only a small part to play in this movie. But it is a pivotal part because it is he who displays the ultimate ruthlessness which epitomises the Cold Warriors.
The plot in this movie concerns an attempt by British Intelligence to undermine a dangerous East German Abteilung officer by planting a defector, Leamass, played superbly by Richard Burton, into East Germany. But as the plot unfolds we begin to see the real subtlety and manipulation at play that is charachteristic of Le Carre at his stunning best. If you are interested in this era and this type of film it is obviously the classic of its kind.
One thing I find interesting about the Cold War is that it was largely fought without weapons, and yet, as perfectly illustrated in this movie, even stripped of their weapons, men still found a way to fight a war!!
I owned it on VHS and waited for along time for a region 2 compatible DVD. No extras, but I don't care, it's a work of art which doesn't need embellishing.