It goes without saying that countless values present and necessary in society are to a certain degree devoid in the world of espionage. Essential values are cast aside in the world of espionage, and is done all in the name of success and country, no matter the costs. Agents in this world are intellectuals who have chosen a profession that has forced them to become men of action, consequently creating a constant struggle to maintain personal values. Through Le Carre’s spy fiction, ‘Smiley’s People’, and Tony Scott’s 2001 thriller ‘Spy Game’, values of humanism and integrity are accounted for, however only to a limited degree and are presented through many literary devices and film processes. Therefore, it is obvious that in the world of espionage there is a undeniably deep void in which values are inadequate.
Both texts explore the value of personal integrity, where an individual would put their moral principles to the test of time in a world where values are undoubtedly lacking. Individuals in the world of espionage are commonly seen as pawns with a lack of values, however, there are some who choose to adhere to their values putting forth integrity before their mission. This is highly relevant to our protagonists, George Smiley and Tom Bishop, because they are dictated by their values as they hold them closer than most pragmatists in the spy world. This can be explored through ‘Spy Game’ as the main characters are characterised to value integrity throughout the whole film, specifically the rooftop scene in Germany. Idealistically, Bishop and Muir argue with each other with a firm stance upon their personal integrity. Muir supports the idea of a necessary expendable asset while Bishop would much rather not sacrifice another person’s life for his own personal benefit. This scene is supported by the use of low shots and close ups of both Muir and
Bishop, switching between them both. This allows the audience to truly embrace each character’s emotions and what their stance is. Muir is calm, displaying one face, while Bishop is swearing, frustrated and hostile with the fact that an asset was sacrificed, this is contrasted and strengthened with the use of a subtle low angle towards Bishop, which emphasis his anger. This is effect is finalised when Bishop throws a bright orange chair off the rooftop, symbolising the casting aside of values portrayed in the world of espionage. The critical value of personal integrity allowed for this very scene to take place, as Muir sticks to his pragmatic ways and sees assets as tools while
Bishop would be against the disrespect of human life. However, Muir believes the world of espionage is not full of flowers and love as he knew what kind of man Schmidt was before he utilised him as an asset. During Le Carre’s interview about his writings, he says “You are thrown upon another and then you don’t trust one another, your world becomes a secret world within a secret world” With the use of paradoxical inception, Le Carre is saying that there is a generally sense of distrust, suspicion, and paranoia in the world of espionage. He emphasis the truth with high modality phrases such as You are, and You don’t having a strong stance upon the lack of values and the struggle an individual endeavours upon to maintain their personal integrity while having to deal with the greater good. In his book ‘Smiley’s People’, it can be clearly seen that
Smiley is a persona characterised to value his personal integrity. This can be seen through “Smiley knew that he was unled, and perhaps unreadable; that the only restraints upon him were those of his own reason, and his own humanity. As with his marriage, so with his sense of public service… and all that I am left with is myself”, Smiley feels like he is alone in this world, he is unique. What sets him apart from the rest is the fact that he values his personal integrity, he has moral principles which act as ‘restraints’ and is