Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell has been adapted for film more than once. This is the version released in 1984 starring Richard Burton and John Hurt:

from the film:
In accordance with the principles of doublespeak, it does not matter if the war is not real, or when it is, that victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous. The essential act of modern warfare is the destruction of the produce of human labor. A hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. In principle, the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects. And its object is not victory over Eurasia or Eastasia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.

Hearing those words spoken in this film is frightening. It stuns me. When I first read this book in high school 1984 was in the future, in the next decade. In a way we're in a time warp, and nothing ever really changes and appearances are always deceiving and nothing is what it seems. This movie is scarier than the horror movies I devoted the month of October to. It is a bleak, tragic story that has brought me to tears.

Moria says
the film is one literary adaptation that quits stuns with its vivid, potent intellectual articulation. The overwhelming bleakness of the story and the brilliance of Orwell’s ideas emerge with a breathtaking clarity.

The New York Times says,
This '1984' is not an easy film to watch, but it exerts a fascination that demands attention even as you want to turn away from it.

Roger Ebert says,
Michael Radford's brilliant film of Orwell's vision does a good job of finding that line between the "future" world of 1984 and the grim postwar world in which Orwell wrote.
What is remarkable about the movie is how completely it satisfied my feelings about the book; the movie looks, feels, and almost tastes and smells like Orwell's bleak and angry vision.

10/31/2009: Ferdy on Films has a review.

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