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Damian Sutton on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Professor Damian Sutton recently presented his latest research on Tomas Alfredson's adaptation of John Le Carre's famous 1974 novel.

Articulating the Pan-European Studio Dream

StudioCanal and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Dr Damian Sutton, Professor in Photography, Film and Visual Culture, recently presented his research on design decisions in contemporary cinema production at a research seminar at The University of Southampton. This research takes as a case study the studio politics that inform the 2011 film adaptation of John Le Carré’s 1974 spy novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, in the context of the rebranding of its European production company, StudioCanal. The articles uses a key scene with Gary Oldman as spymaster George Smiley, and the actor’s reworking of a previous interpretation by Alec Guinness, as an example of controlled innovation necessary for the success of studio adaptations of much-admired and canonical texts. The repositioning of the studio, and its adaptation, is understood through the concepts of the diagrammatic put forward by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, and of articulation as developed by Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe and Stuart Hall. These are valuable in gaining appreciating how corporate entities such as film studios manage the complex problems presented by established intertexts (including source novels, previous performances and productions), whose history of adaptation hand created temporarily fixed ‘nodal’ points of engagement or articulation between text and audience. By considering a key aesthetic innovation – the performance of an actor in a pivotal scene – we can see how a production company ensures commercial and artistic advantage by engaging with audiences who will have remembered, and loved, the ‘original’ adaptation and its source novel.