In a totalitarian future society, a man, whose daily work is re-writing history, tries to rebel by falling in love.In a totalitarian future society, a man, whose daily work is re-writing history, tries to rebel by falling in love.In a totalitarian future society, a man, whose daily work is re-writing history, tries to rebel by falling in love.
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.
- Sep 18, 2002