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Why do they do it? Why do they pick a novel like this which obviously has a following (seeing how it's still around after 75 years), and screw around with the story line? Are the writers thinking "Yeah, that Aldous guy is OK, but I'm much better." Or are they thinking that we simply wouldn't understand the story in it's original form? This trash is going to offend anyone that can actually finish a book without pictures in it. Watching what they did to this classic is similar to watching "Romeo and Juliette" rewritten to have a happy ending. I can't think of any demographic that's going to be pleased with the result. I would seriously like to attend the brainstorming session where they worked out the screenplay just to hear the rational behind rewriting a classic.
Brave new world is one of the most inspiring and prescient novels of the
20th century (it was first published in 1932). In the future it portrays,
humanity has achieved its final goal: happiness, understood as the ability
of each person to satisfy his/her impulses almost immediately. Achieving
this goal means leaving science, religion, and most of our culture in the
way. In this perfect world people have all the sex and TV they want,
hyperconsumption is a social virtue, and books are denigrated because they
promote individualism. Sounds familiar?
The novel is dark and pessimistic and the characters' personality is flat because they are supposed to be that way. The only exception in the novel, the savage, is well portrayed in the movie but the rest of the characters appear too normal (too present-day) in the movie. This is especially true in the case of Lenina, the central female character who is supposed to be typical of her time (no brains, just fun, thank you) in the novel while in the movie has a more complex personality. This change ends up altering the plot and was probably caused by that big stupidity of our times, political correctness.
This adaptation of the novel for TV mass consumption also includes several other changes such as an assassination plot (unthinkable in the original) and the inclusion of a happy ending, which completely distort the message. Maybe, the novel was right: all that matters is having a lot of sex and violence on TV but we should avoid "intellectual" narratives that make people think and, therefore, "unhappy".
In the near future society is managed so that everyone is happy - only a
live on the edges of society as trash. In society, babies are no longer
born, they are designed into social categories to decide their future
Everyone is happy. However one of the conditioning team, Bernard, can't
help but feel if there were any ways of making it better. When a chance
helicopter accident brings him into contact with one of the `savages',
Cooper, he brings him back as an experiment. Initially John is taken by
society but gradually he begins to see that the world is not as he wants
For a major film to attempt to bring a major novel to the screen is a brave move, but for a cheap TVM to have a stab at it is even more of a risk. This version is kind of interesting in an obvious way, but really is not even worthy of sharing the name of the book (and indeed doesn't really stick to it either). The plot is roughly the same but the film is keen to point out how this future is so very like the current world that many of us in the West now live in. Big deal. This is very obvious and is far too simple a point to make in an attempt to translate Huxley. It is of vague interest on this level and there were certain parallels that made me think - problem was, I didn't leave the film thinking - I ignore the action onscreen and just starting pondering! Films should make you think - but surely not to the point where your thoughts are actually better than what's on the screen!
So yes it says lots of stuff about social classes (which we have - workers and middlemen and top men), consumerism, slogans, media saturation and loss of individualism. But it just doesn't deliver all these in a good package; which it really needed to do in order to get by. As it is, it doesn't manage to really engage and I found myself not really caring.
The cast are pretty low rent to a man - when Nimoy is a surprise big cameo, you know you're in the sh*t! Gallagher is pretty bland and didn't really do anything for me in the lead and support from Kihlstedt is not great either. The supposedly wild and free Cooper is played badly by Guinee; I just didn't care for him or his situation and never really got the feel of a man who is gradually realising that he is in hell. Ferrer was OK and it was nice to see him not playing a sinister creep of one sort or another (although only just!).
Overall this is a passable TVM that makes very obvious comments about our society by exaggerating them slightly in a future setting. This would be well and good but it is certainly never Brave New World. If you are looking for something to wash over you for 90 minutes then this would do, but given the choice again, I'd read the book instead.
Okay, I realize that I'm probably going to get labeled as either a
moron or a heretic for this, but I'm not going to let that put me off!
Y'see, the fact is I LOVED this version of Huxley's classic!!!
The main reason for contempt aimed at this film appears to concern the matter of deviation from the original text.
Firstly, it is almost always necessary when adapting literary material, and this is the case here. Secondly, the alterations are not that severe. The only real changes pertain to character (oh, and the admittedly fluffy pink ending which appears to have been pinned on as an afterthought, I'll give you that one): Marx and Lenina are fleshed out, in that they develop the ability to learn and evolve, which in the book is impossible. Helmholtz is removed as his purpose in the book is fulfilled here by Marx in the aforementioned capacity. John is rendered here more mentally stable and exhibits none of the religious fervor for guilt and self flagellation.
Right, so why were these changes necessary?
In the study version of the text, the notes state "Thus however tempting it may be to base a reading of brave new world on a sympathetic identification with the characters, it would be a distortion of the novel to do so." It also postulates that the "characters are static, incapable of learning, changing and developing in the way real people do".
Now, these things may well be fine in a book, but in a film the medium requires precisely the kind of 'sympathetic identification' missing from the text if it is to be enjoyed by any kind of audience outside of, perhaps, the art-house crowd. Moreover, characters in films NEED to evolve in a way that is not perhaps required in a literary equivalent. It is simply a matter of adapting format to work successfully.
As for John, and again with reference to the study text, Huxley himself states "...the most serious defect in the story, which is this, the savage is offered only two alternatives, an insane life in Utopia...(or that) his native Penetente-ism reasserts its authority and he ends in maniacal self torture and suicide." He goes on to assert "if I were to rewrite the book, I would offer the savage a third alternative. Between the utopian and the primitive horns of his dilemma would lie the possibility of sanity"
The alterations to John's character not only serve the aforementioned necessities when converting the story to celluloid, but address Huxley's own misgivings about the direction the story arc took.
Basically, the changes are justified.
As to the socio economic and eugenic details in Huxleys work - the things that made it so important, well 95% of them are in there. Some are slightly updated, but essentially they are identical. The only missing ingredients that I spotted were the Bokanovskyfication of human embryo's, and the erotic play amongst children.
The former perhaps should have been utilized, but the latter, well, they'd have NEVER gotten away with that.
All in all, and given the obvious budgetary restraints clearly present, I believe this to be a faithfully spirited, valid interpretation of a book that was always going to be incredibly difficult to film.
'Brave New World', the 1932 novel by Aldous Huxley, told of a new world
where babies were decanted as Alphas, Betas, Deltas, Epsilons, or
Gammas, all designed to know their places in society, and in the case
of the lower classes, decanted as multiple identical twins to staff
entire factories and production lines. Their God is Ford (as in Henry)
and their motto is 'history is bunk'.
In the book, Bernard Marx is a fish out of water, an Alpha of stunted growth who has dangerous ideas, who refuses to act like he is expected to, and is generally despised. The film's Bernard is Peter Gallagher, a kind of magnetic Romeo figure, popular with the girls, and a confident success. Already there's been some tampering done with the source.
With Rya Kihlstedt as a colourless Lenina (again nothing like the book's character, who is conventional to a 't') and Leonard Nimoy as the Controller, Mustapha Mond, the film loses impact and goes downhill very quickly.
Nods can be given (grudingly) at the attempts to develop computer generated conditioning forms, and to give some sense of a futuristic world. It just doesn't come off. The savage reservation is simply full of young Americans out to pick a fight, while John (the savage child of Linda, a Beta stranded in the reservation) does speak Shakespeare, but is otherwise of little interest and very unlike the book.
A disappointment and a huge bore, missing both the humour and the science-fiction/faction innovations of Huxley's novel.
In spite of the many attempts to maintain perfection, that is one thing that
cannot be achieved to its fullest extent in reality. Unfortunately, that is
practically the one thing that is misunderstood in the Brave New
This TV movie reinterprets a classic novel of how the human soul is compromised to the never-ending quest for perfection. In the story, everybody is born in science labs, and their destiny is determined for them from Day One. They spend their whole lives being conditioned (and reconditioned), their thoughts and emotions suppressed with soma, and all else that virtually eliminates the human soul.
This is all what Aldous Huxley was thinking of human civilization all the way back in 1932, back when communism, socialism, and fascism were still major threats to world societies. While some of these thoughts may seem dated today, there are SOME aspects to modern society, even in a democratic gov't, that brings relevance to this story.
However, because the Brave New World is NOT perfect, there are a few who have their own ways of thinking. One is Bernard Marx, who's persistent in initiating his own forms of human conditioning. Another, Lenina, is one who experiences true happiness, after having spent her entire life deprived of true freedom. Then there's John, a Savage who lives on a Reservation seperated from the World State.
John is one who still has a firm grip on religion, art, literature, and history, all of which are banned in society, but still exists on the Reservation. Bernard and Lenina, both on a temporary holiday, takes John to visit the Brave New World, only for John to discover the horror that had become of the human race.
This was an interesting movie. It retained a lot of what was in the original novel. But there were a few major liberties taken to make the story more accessible to modern tastes. For one thing, the Savages are not Indians (thanks in part to an evil form of liberalism called "political correctness"), but are more like the modern version of Americana, which, 600 years from now, will be considered primitive. Also, the novel did not have a sub-plot about a Delta being reconditioned, and later brainwashed into trying to kill Bernard Marx. It's kinda funny, because that somewhat defies the society's purpose of "no crime, no violence, etc.". Some such things as the worship of Ford, and "orgy-porgy" were eliminated, which makes this movie less intense than the novel. The ending was changed a little, just to present the novel's message in a different light.
I get the impression that the production team wanted more from this movie, but had to work with what came to be the result. It's a wonder why this presentation is an obscure TV movie, rather than a theatrical. I think that some parts of Brave New World would be difficult to reinterpret into a theatrical, because the production team wouldn't be able to reinterpret the story without doing a considerable amount of retooling, as this shows us.
Overall, this was an okay movie. But having read the Brave New World novel not too long ago, I feel as if there are some aspects of our democratic society that I feel make this story more relevant than people realize.
The Brave New World novel is available at your local library.
Not as grim and forbidding as the book, this adaptation of Huxley's great work does have merit. Recommended as a worthwhile glimpse into the world which we are indeed, headed toward. The portray of the media as the keepers of the establishment mythology was particularly well done. Too dramatic for literary purists, but definitely worth watching.
Although this movie version of 'Brave New World' was quite different from the novel, I still enjoyed it. It seemed to be a different take on Huxley's theme. The city itself was especially impressive, as was the eclectic style of the whole film. As for the actors, they all did fairly well; Nimoy did an especially nice job with his role. I also liked the prissy beta clerk!
What would Huxley think? His masterwork now fodder for the MTV culture of the world. It was interesting that the writer and director chose this particular style to shoot BNW from. Granted the cliche' of Hollywood and American culture in general may seem like a Huxleyian paradigm but really, here it seems a little pretentious, as if to make some vocal statement saying "America has finally caught up to the novel's vision." Oh brother! This almost cynical disregard for respecting the author's true vision of his own work is pretty sad, as every nuance of Huxley's story has its meaning and characters stomped upon with references to rave culture, soap opera scandal type revelations and media blitz culture. The video and vocal overlays that are supposed to drive us through the films locations....superfluous. THe concepts of life inside the Brave New World become so much pseudo intellectual rambilng, the characters merely philosophical mouthpieces. If I didn't know any better I would have thought this film was French in origin. One can almost sense a level of shame being heaped upon us, the viewers as if this is the world we want and the writer and director know what we WILL become in the future. How odd. This is the second movie I have seen based upon the novel, the first being the 1980 movie with Bud Cort and Marsha Strassman. Somehow they never seem to quite get it right, but this one missed the mark the furthest in my opinon. Definately skip this version.
For those of you students out there looking to get away with not having to read Huxley's novel, this film version will definitely do you more harm than good. The most interesting aspect of the novel for me is analyzing Bernard's motives and beliefs and how he sells out after returning from the reservation with John, but that is not part of this movie at all. In this film, Bernard is more like Helmholtz, a radical individual trying to break the chains of "civilization" which he definitely is not in the novel. Anyways, long story short...read the book, or at the very least the Cliff Notes. This movie is a good supplement, but it doesn't hold a candle to the novel itself.
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