Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

8 December, 2011

I saw Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy directed by Tomas Alfredson a couple of weeks ago. I adored it. It is a wonderful film which does something very unusual for big productions these days; it treats the audience as intelligent. One could write about the film’s actors, themes, whether it’s a remake or not but what I want to discuss is the special look of the film. The mis en scéne as it is called within the film industry. Mis en scéne is basically everything we see on screen; the style of acting, the light, the setting and the costumes. Or in this perticular film; the suits. I want to write about two big interests of mine in one post dear readers; fashion and film.

The story is set just in the beginning of the 1970’s and is set in a cold war London. It’s a spy thriller where the big question basically is; who’s the mole? Gary Oldman’s character George Smiley is brought in to investigate. This is not the 70’s of glam rock, hippies or women braking free from patriarchy. This is the gray civil service Britain. There are hardly any women in the film. The characters are all men and there is therefore a very strong emphasis on their suits, ties and whatever they can express themselves with. Costumes is a great way to investigatre a character or analyse a film. Cloathes are important in our everyday life. We send out different types of signals on who we are, how we want to be seen as and other traces of identity. Filmmakers are of course very aware of this and willing to use such signals.

Take George Smiley for example. What can one tell about his character from looking at his clothes?

He’s very descrete. He only wears two different suits through the whole film and both of them are gray. He is supposed to be ther character noone takes notice of, that no one remembers. One can also sense the fact that he is a bit out of step with his time as his outfits rather are of the 60’s than 70’s. They seem dated compared to the suits that Benedict Cumberbatch wears in his role as Guilliam. He is the youngest character who works within the office and also the character that is most 70’s. He has longer hair, his trousers have a bit of a flair and he uses assecories such as the bright blue tie.

The last carachter I want to mention is Colin Firth in the role of Bill Haydon. This is the most flamboyant dresser in the whole film and the very opposite to the way in which George Smiley looks. Haydon got an air of aristocracy in the way he dresses like a English gentleman with a country mannor. There are lots of greens and browns, use of tweed, waistcoats and the twist of bright red socks to add a bit of wit to the mix. He also chooses something which is not brogues (!), he wears dessert boots. All this gives him a very different look to the rest of the men in the film. He seems like a man who would get his suits on Savile Row and then go out to his country house on weekends. I have done a lot of research on Savile Row recently as I am working on a project sort of connected to it. I will tell you more about it later.

If not these wonderfully detailed costumes weren’t enough of a fashion connection I can offer you more. Everyone’s favorite within men’s fashion, Paul Smith, was also involved with the film. Smith designed specially made silk posters for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. They were limited to 50 copies which all were signed by Smith and all profit went straight to charity. I wish I had the money to get hold of one of these as they are truly wonderful.


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