Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold (movie)

Last night, I had the good fortune to watch The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, the 1965 film adaptation of John le Carre's novel, starring Richard Burton and Claire Bloom.

The opening sequences of the movie accurately set the scene.  Bleak, gloomy and austere, capturing the atmosphere surrounding the seedy world of espionage. It was a masterstroke to make this film in black and white. Monochrome is invariably more evocative than colour.

The plot of The Spy Who Came In From The Cold is quite elaborate, and the movie does a fine job of striking a balance between overt explication and leaving some aspects to be worked out by the viewer.

Richard Burton delivers a fine performance as the brooding, careworn and cynical Alec Leamas. The quality of the acting throughout is quite exceptional. Particularly worthy of praise is the contribution of Oskar Werner as Fiedler.

Other films in the "spy thriller" genre may have sought to glamorise espionage, but The Spy Who Came In From The Cold is quite unflinching in its depiction as a sleazy, ruthless and unforgiving world.  The court room scene towards the scene is particularly stark and compelling.

Overall, this is a well-constructed and riveting film, and well worth checking out. It may persuade me to devote some attention to John le Carre's novels.

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