After The Atomic War the world is divided into three states. London is a city in Oceania, ruled by a party that has total control over all its citizens. Winston Smith is one of the bureaucrats, rewriting history in one of the departments. One day he commits the crime of falling in love with Julia. They try to escape Big Brother's listening and viewing devices, but, of course, nobody can really escape. Written by
The picture won the "Best British Film of the Year" award at the Evening Standard British Film Awards in 1984. See more »
At the end of the movie, Winston is sitting in the Chestnut Tree Café (acute accent over the e). In the book (before there were accent marks), it was Cafe. Also, given what society was like in movie, Café feels wrong. See more »
This is our land. A land of peace and of plenty. A land of harmony and hope. This is our land. Oceania. These are our people. The workers, the strivers, the builders. These are our people. The builders of our world, struggling, fighting, bleeding, dying. On the streets of our cities and on the far-flung battlefields. Fighting against the mutilation of our hopes and dreams. Who are they?
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The movie begins with the title "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." See more »
Accurate and powerful rendering of a timely piece of work
From the opening shot of "Nineteen Eighty Four" the viewer is plunged right into the hellhole of Oceania and the ultimate totalitarian nightmare. Whilst the year 1984 may be long past us, the essential themes of George Orwell's best known work still remain as timely and as relevant as ever.
Winston Smith (John Hurt) is a drone worker in the Bureau of Information, and his job is to edit the news in accordance with the needs of the governing Party (which is in continual, seemingly endless war with Eurasia and other opposing states). He must also refer to the dictionary of Newsspeak, which is the government's language for the distribution of information.
He lives in a world where there is no escape from the authority of the government who regiment the every thought and deed of their subjects. The Party is steadily working on a way to outlaw the concept of the family and the idea of conception. This is done to eradicate Thoughtcrime and guarantee the worker's total devotion to the Party and its leader, Big Brother.
Winston abides by this (recording his increasingly ambiguous thoughts about society in a hidden, handwritten diary) until he encounters Julia (Suzanna Hamilton), a strange young women with rebellious ideas, to whom he develops a powerful attraction. But their passionate, forbidden relationship cannot escape the all-seeing eyes of Big Brother.....
Screenwriter Jonathan Gems has a done a terrific job with the script. He successfully translates Orwell's ideas to the screen with great clarity. Micheal Radford directs with subtlety around the greasy sets and crumbling locations (the picture was filmed in and around the very area in which Orwell set his novel).
The performances from the chief principals are very strong. John Hurt is excellent as Winston, bringing a subtle and considerate approach to the character. Particularly disturbing is his final scenes, as he becomes gaunt and disfigured through government torture. Suzanna Hamilton is gentle and quirky as Julia and "Rab C Nesbitt" actor Gregor Fisher appears as Winston's ill-fated friend, Parsons.
Veteran actor Richard Burton lends a cold charisma to government enforcer O'Brien and he too excels in the film's final moments, as he coolly and sadistically tortures Winston, subjecting him to severe physical pain to subdue him, casually pulling a tooth out of his rotting mouth, then exposing him to the horrors of Room 101, all the while exhorting obedience to the Party and love to Big Brother.
The strong relevance of the concepts of "Nineteen Eighty Four" should not be underestimated. Whilst the term "Big Brother" is now synonymous with the ridiculous "reality" TV shows of the same name, others like the Two Minutes Hate (in which the workers are coerced, through a two-minute broadcast, into hating the enemies of the state); the idea of a government waging a perpetual war to advocate "peace" (especially relevant in the aftermath of September 11) as well as the editing of news and the abuse of language in order to suit the needs of government and disguise its true agendas are ideas that are chillingly present in today's society.
All of this is powerful and thought-provoking stuff, and helps to make "Nineteen Eighty Four" an accurate and powerful rendering of a still very timely piece of work.
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