Difficult to find, and largely overshadowed by the 1984 film, this live television performance from 1954 deserves to be made more widely available.
At the time controversial for its scenes of torture and sexuality, it provoked an outburst of Thought Police-style outrage among politicians and assorted editorialists. In fact, the program seems brutal even today, with its depictions of comprehensive hopelessness and deliberate cruelty.
Peter Cushing was probably the most famous live television personality in Britain at the time, and he puts in a typically excellent performance. Yvonne Mitchell and Andre Morell neatly tie up the remaining emotional possibilities in this dystopia, with the rest of the cast expressing only various shades of despair. A very young Donald Pleasence plays Newspeak-auteur Syme, confronted here not by "Ultimate Evil," but rather doublethink and "Double-Plus-Ungood."
"We are the dead."
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