Looking Backward: British Period Drama – the 21st Century Edition

 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Gary Oldman in ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ (Focus Features)

It often pays to remember that not all period movies involve horse drawn carriages and country estates. Still, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy fits in the long tradition of period films that are adaptations of classic novels. Casting Gary Oldman as John le Carré‘s world-weary spy George Smiley (who had been played by Alec Guinness in the 1979 television mini-series), director Tomas Alfredson said that for the parts of the film set in 1968, he made sure that most of the costumes and sets were from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, an era when London was still suffering from the lingering impacts of World War II and post-war shortages. Alfredson has also said that he actually relied on the imagination of a smell in trying to evoke the atmosphere of the period. “The scent we used for this film was ‘damp tweed,’” he said last year at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image.

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