Director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) opted for a gritty, rain-sodden, strip-lighted London for his reworking of John Le Carre’s acclaimed ’70s Cold War mystery, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He recruited acclaimed composer Alberto Iglesias to help set the melancholy mood. Here’s what Iglesias had to say about his Oscar-contending score:
What were your initial meetings like with Tomas Alfredson?
I met Tomas in London when he was finishing post-production. Before showing me the film, he explained how difficult the shooting had been. He wanted to focus the idea of the music on the main character, his loneliness and the gray life of the spies more than on the complexities of the plot…
There is a kind of slow motion in Tomas’s approach to this time in the seventies when the world was in a real war. A war not on the battlefield but with the threat of nuclear bombs and widespread paranoia. Under an apparent calm was a deep net of lies, betrayal, and silences. Music works not only for battlefields with machine guns or horses but also for a man in a corner, alone, thinking.
What was your journey like? I sense a jazzy style.
About the style: yes, it’s a little jazzy in the opening titles and more in the orchestration than in the core. The core is melancholic, almost in all the film. As Smiley finds certainties, the music evolves into activity. A family of themes co-exists.
There is one theme that has more presence than the others. It’s very simple and builds a pedal on a fifth E-A, an isorythmic pattern that less by less acquires the meaning of persistence. The music that in the beginning is part of the solitude of Smiley serves to connect him with the reality. I don’t know if this is evident when you watch the film, but for me it was part of the idea for the structure. Tomas came and put more enthusiasm in some pieces than in others. He never said no to any of my proposals. He wanted me to discover new possibilities until the end.
What inspired you?
We didn’t use any temp track, I suppose he used some for the editing but never showed to me. Except for a Scarlatti piece that he loves and inspired me very deeply.