Now available for streaming on Apple TV is The Pigeon Tunnel, a documentary on the life and works of spy-turned-author John le Carre. We look into its motivation.
Everyone enjoys a good spy, and George Smiley is the one who has held readers’ attention for more than 60 years. Even though Smiley may be the antithesis of James Bond, another well-known spy, on movie, he has been portrayed by a number of performers.
Who were John le Carre, aka David Cornwell
Creator of Smiley The Spy Who Came From the Cold, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and A Perfect Spy are just a few of the popular spy thrillers written by David Cornwell, who is better known by his writing name John le Carré. These books made it onto bestseller lists.
Currently, the author, who changed careers from spy to novelist, is the focus of the gripping documentary The Pigeon Tunnel by Oscar-winning director Errol Morris.
The documentary, which spans six decades and is based on le Carré’s 2016 autobiography The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories of My Life, which was inspired by a childhood memory of him seeing a pigeon chase, provides a window into Cornwell’s and le Carré’s secretive world.
How was the documentary made? Four separate interviews with David Cornwell were conducted by filmmaker Errol Morris in the autumn of 2019—the author’s last before his death in the winter of 2020.
Morris stated, “I had read The Pigeon Tunnel, and it continues to be my favourite book by le Carré, and I wanted to capture this in motion pictures. John le Carré was a documentarian, each of his books is based on history and current history, and he continually explored the political events around him, it occurred to me when creating this movie.
Ronnie Cornwell, who was immortalised in the 1986 hit A Perfect Spy and is the son of a bankrupt conman and a prisoner, frequently incorporates details from his own life into his fiction. Errol Morris acknowledges that his topic is a kindred spirit and that his writing is infused with a strong moral force.
“I was expecting someone who was cynical, but I soon discovered that the man seated across from me was a believer in the goodness and truth. Spending time with him and reading his writing helped me to grasp it. Therefore, the likelihood of making a movie like this gave me the opportunity to learn something, which I did.
John le Carré’s sons Stephen and Simon Cornwell, who co-produced the movie, said it was a remarkable experience since they gained not only a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter, but also a number of unexpected, humorous, and extraordinarily poignant anecdotes.
His final interview was there. He wanted to make nearly a statement with what he said, therefore it was vital to him in a subtle manner that it was clear. According to Stephen Cornwell, their father was “fiercely protective about himself, and his family as he talks, but he was the man, who was very sensitive to other people. He was conscious that he was towards the end of his life, so just watching him on film was a powerful thing for us. He thought that his job defined him, so he was quite keen that people pay attention to it. He had no choice but to keep writing.
Numerous of John le Carré’s books have also been adapted for the big screen, including Russia House, The Tailor of Panama, The Constant Gardener, and The Night Manager, which was recently adapted for the Indian market with Anil Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapur, and Sobitha Dhulipala.
“Unfortunately, he passed away before The Night Manager in Hindi was shown on our televisions. Although he was still alive when the initial work on the show had begun, he was overjoyed to learn that it was being adapted and was extremely happy to witness it, according to Simon Cornwell.