Apple TV+ made a hit with the fictional remedial British spies of the series Slow Horses, and now it’s adding a documentary about the real former British spy-turned-author who essentially defined the spy thriller genre: John le Carré.
That famous name is not his real one, of course. It’s David Cornwell. And now his two sons are teaming up with legendary documentary filmmaker Errol Morris on the story of the author’s life, The Pigeon Tunnel, a title shared with his memoir. The film debuts October 20.
The Pigeon Tunnel tells the tale of John le Carré’s journey from Cold War spy to top novelist
Cornwell worked as a British spy during the Cold War. Then, under the pen name John le Carré, he wrote genre-defining novels like The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Night Manager and The Constant Gardener. Those all became movies or TV series, including a recent hit version of Tinker Tailor starring Gary Oldman, the lead actor in Slow Horses.
The Pigeon Tunnel is a collaboration between Morris (The Fog of War) and The Ink Factory (The Night Manager), run by Cornwell’s sons Simon and Stephen.
Here’s how Apple TV+ described the documentary:
The Pigeon Tunnel pulls back the curtain on the storied life and career of former British spy David Cornwell — better known as John le Carré.
Set against the turbulent backdrop of the Cold War leading into present day, the film spans six decades as le Carré delivers his final and most candid interview, punctuated with rare archival footage and dramatized vignettes. Drawing on le Carré’s New York Times bestselling memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life, the film is an unprecedented voyage into the lesser-known parts of the iconic and historically private author’s formative experiences, set to an original score by Philip Glass in collaboration with Paul Leonard-Morgan.
And here’s how Simon and Stephen Cornwell described it:
Full of deep insight, and surprising, amusing and often profoundly moving anecdotes, The Pigeon Tunnel charts a conversation between two great minds, both consummate storytellers; one who wove extraordinary fiction from the events he experienced, the other whose interrogation of those events has led so often to a greater truth. Together, they explore the events of the Cold War, and of le Carré’s life, testing the boundaries of truth, memory and imagination.
The layered and unorthodox film is a tête-à-tête between a filmmaker and a novelist – both masters of their craft – grappling with the roots of the creative process, the power of fiction and our responsibility to the truth.
The Ink Factory and Fourth Floor Productions produced the documentary in association with Jago Films, Storyteller Productions and 127 Wall Productions.
Watch documentary films on Apple TV+
The growing slate of Apple TV+ documentary films includes this year’s most Emmy Award-nominated documentary feature, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, and the NAACP Image Award-winning film Sidney, about legendary actor Sidney Poitier. Just last week, Apple released Stephen Curry: Underrated, the remarkable coming-of-age story of one of the most influential, dynamic and unexpected players in the history of basketball.
Apple TV+ is available by subscription for $6.99 with a seven-day free trial. You can also get it via any tier of the Apple One subscription bundle. For a limited time, customers who purchase and activate a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch can enjoy three months of Apple TV+ for free.
After first airing in November 2019, “Apple TV+ became the first all-original streaming service to launch around the world, and has premiered more original hits and received more award recognitions faster than any other streaming service. To date, Apple Original films, documentaries and series have been honored with 299 wins and 1,451 award nominations and counting,” the service said.