John le Carré is the author of many spy novels, among them “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and “The Constant Gardener.” If these titles sound familiar even though you did not read them, it could be because they were adapted for a screenplay, and you saw the film version. To be clear, John le Carré is a name adopted by David Cornwell, an Oxford-educated ex-spy, for the novels he wrote. On a book website, I saw the term referred to as “his artistic pseudonym.”
John le Carr’s New York Times bestselling memoir, “The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life,” was released in January 2017. Le Carr served in British Intelligence during the Cold War. I have not yet read the memoir, but after viewing the film and hearing Cromwell give insight into some of the areas of the world he worked in, I am now inclined to do so. Cromwell has since passed away.
The author initially discusses the term “The Pigeon Tunnel.” The viewer sees a scene of birds living on a rooftop in cages. They are forced out and fly freely through a specific passage, only to emerge and be seen by sharpshooters with rifles to shoot at them for sport. It was sad to see this, but there is meaning to what the author had in mind. In time, the viewer begins to understand when Cromwell speaks of “the Circus” he is referring to the “intelligence” industry he worked for. There is also a conversation about a defector, Kim Philby, who the author knew.
Interestingly, Cromwell does discuss his background. His mother left the boys behind with their father very early. He was then educated in a boarding school separated from his father. He relays stories he recalled about each parent. He states he met his mother in his early 20s and ended up keeping the white luggage with her initials and using it when she left the household. Morris uses movie clips in the documentary, as well as archival photos and press clippings. The latter are not just flashed on the screen; instead, they appear like pieces pieced together.
About: Academy Award-winning documentarian Errol Morris pulls back the curtain on the storied life and career of former British spy David Cornwell — better known as John le Carré, author of such classic espionage novels as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Constant Gardener. Set against the turbulent backdrop of the Cold War leading into the present day, the film spans six decades as le Carré delivers his final and most candid interview, punctuated with rare archival footage and dramatized vignettes. The Pigeon Tunnel is a profoundly human and engaging exploration of le Carré’s extraordinary journey and the paper-thin membrane between fact and fiction.
The Apple Original Film is directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Errol Morris and is available globally on Apple TV+ on October 20th. “The Pigeon Tunnel – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack,” an original score from composer Philip Glass and Paul Leonard-Morgan composed for Errol Morris’ documentary The Pigeon Tunnel, will also be available in time with the film release.
Source: Apple TV+