The Pigeon Tunnel
When the world lost John le Carré in 2020, we lost one of the greatest writers in the post-war era. In acclaimed filmmaker Errol Morris’s latest feature documentary, attention is drawn to the man in the shadows, as we finally catch a glimpse at the life of the writer behind the pen name John le Carré. Lifting the curtain on the storied life and career of David Cornwell, the former spy turned espionage writer, Morris sits down with the author to discuss his life, adventures and inspirations in what was to be the writer’s final and most personal interview, accompanied by re-enactments, rare archived footage and a bounty of anecdotes.
Presented in an interview format, le Carré sits alone in a dark, cold, ominous room as Morris conversationally asks him questions about reconnaissance, betrayal, Queen and country. Le Carré is evidently proud of his life achievements – after all, not everyone can confess to being a spy and working in the intelligence service. It is he who really tells the story of this documentary, and any other assistance is merely supplementary as we are swept away and engulfed in his world. Morris interjects and asks the poignant questions we want to know the answers to, and the choice of footage helps paint the corners of this biographical tapestry.
The viewer truly gets a feel as to why le Carré had the artistic vision and creativity he did. The inspiration for a number of his novels came from his own experiences during the Cold War, particularly his relationship with Russian spy Kim Philby. If anything, it inspires you to go off and read a number of his works. “If he lived with a cat for two weeks, he (Philby) would find a way to betray the cat”. These were the kinds of people le Carré found himself working with, so it is no surprise that he found an abundance of source material for his international best sellers.
While The Pigeon Tunnel delves deep under the covers of the writer’s experiences in the mid to late 20th century, Morris holds back from asking him the more personal questions about his reported extra-marital affairs, perhaps to keep the pudding sweet, but you can’t help but think it is a missed opportunity. Le Carré would much rather talk about the muse of his father and again it is received positively by the viewer. The Pigeon Tunnel is slick, glossy and compelling, as well as honest and delivered in a manner that mimics the style of the late writer.
The Pigeon Tunnel is released on Apple TV+ on 20th October 2023.
Watch the trailer for The Pigeon Tunnel here: