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Plot: In the year 1984, rocket bombs and rats prey on the inhabitants of the crumbling metropolis of London. Far away on the Malabar Front, a seemingly interminable war rages against Eastasia. The Ministry of Truth broadcasts ceaselessly to the population via its inescapable network of telescreens. These… Runtime: 113 min Release Date: 10 Oct 1984
Brilliant adaption of a classic novel. (by Skeptic459)
Despite what one reviewer states here, 1984 is an extremely important literary work. It explains to the reader what the ultimate facist state would be like. This story is never more important than now, with the world in crisis. It is an absolute must that people read or see 1984. Other films have been made about fascism. One of the most notable examples being Pier Pasolini's Salo. But the problem is hardly anyone is going to see that except for weirdo's or film buffs. This is because of the graphic nature of the film. Besides, Salo was explaining the inherently depraved, decadent <more>
nature of fascism. Orwell's 1984 explains the mechanisms that invoke totalitarianism. John Hurt is excellent as the main character. I am quite a fan. The film is also very well made. The bleakness of the book is perfectly captured by the director. You feel sympathy for the characters even though they seem far away because they appear so weary, yet willing to hope. Transcendence is hinted at when there is a scene where Hurt looks out and sees a wilderness instead of a prison. Hurt's character, Winston looks like he is about half dead! You really hope that Winston and Julia can pull off a passionate love affair. Although you know that it is doomed and is more of an act of rebellion against big brother than anything else. The setting is a land that is half destroyed because of the constant wars. The wars being yet another method of control. They tell us in psychology that in war, depression and other similar disorders actually go down! Interesting eh? The start where everyone sits watching the screens and begins to scream at images of the enemy. This is a great moment in the film that shows a kind of utter conformity through extreme social norms. The most effective form of brainwashing. The problem with the film, like the book, is that people will find it too bleak and horrific to really appreciate it. It is depressing but this is the horror of totalitarianism. The material is not intended to be a walk in the park. One of the most striking and horrific instances of 1984 is the 2+2 does not equal 4 scene. The torture and brainwashing too achieve utter obedience. Richard 'my voice competes with Orson Welles' Burton, who normally pontificates and chews up the scenery is remarkably restrained here. This restraint is the key to a very good performance. These torture scenes are horrific and Hurt really shines. This guy should have got an Oscar! The scenes had me gasping...When I originally read the book it took a while for me to get over the rats. EWWWWWWW! Looking at the overall rating of 1984 I am just totally surprised that this film has such a low rating. Maybe people would rate the novel exactly the same way because of the material. This brings me too my other quibble. The film does not TOTALLY cover all of the novels themes. In fact, although Suzanna Hamilton puts on a good performance, her character is not completely captured. Viewers must remember that literature and cinema are two completely different mediums. There is no such thing as a 100 percent adaption. Therefore you must rate the film on the usual cinematic features. But the main thing is how well the overall message of the story was transmitted. This film powerfully demonstrates Orwell's message!What is weird is one of the reviewers here states that they did not like the nudity. Well, I'm guessing the director was going for a Adam and Eve state with their being naked out in the woods. This is obviously the complete opposite of the unnatural state they have to live in. It does not cheapen the film and points more to the reviewers own repressed desires. Reaction formation perhaps? Besides no one is going to get this for naked bodies when porn is so freely available from your local video store! Consider how relevant this story is. How propaganda and public relations has never been more prevalent. How public relations has overtaken journalism, causing journalism to become more and more watered down. How the political economy of the media is now being hugely influenced by being based in a monopoly economy. A few now control the flow of information for the general population in western nations. This is not conspiracy theory, this is fact. True investigative journalism is at an all time low and the media itself is in a shocking state of affairs. Like everything in our capitalist system, it is controlled by money. Ever read Michel Foucault? Dominant hegemonies, discourse analysis, bla bla bla. I don't want to get all crusty and academic here. But Rupert Murdoch is rubbing his hands together. Time and time again, the United States has been shown to be patently false about why they engaged in conflict with Iraq. Just read John Pilger! Yet many Americans supported the conflict. Even believing chemical weapons were used on American troops, when no such event took place! Why? Because they were manipulated by a sophisticated propaganda machine. Knowledge is power. That is why in 1984 language is being systematically destroyed. This denial of language is the denial of thought itself. Reality is then more easily shaped by the oppressor. Remember dictators, such as Pol Pot destroy the educated first. This is why the film and book are so important, they are still very RELEVANT! In fact I think the progression of western society will become a mixture of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and 1984. Either way we are being manipulated and controlled and these books show you how. America has the 'Patriot Act' that was rushed through congress although human rights groups had many serious doubts about the act. In New Zealand we have a Government that is similary becoming too involved in the regulation of peoples lives. BIG BROTHER IS STILL ALIVE! I give this film a 10 and think the last scene with Hurt looking so haunted in the bar/coffee place was awesome! GREAT, GREAT BOOK! GREAT, GREAT FILM! I have had a bit of a rant here...But hey I really like the book and this version of the film! So why not? This is a film for rebels!
"We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness..." (by jawills)
Michael Radford's utterly superlative film of Orwell's famed novel may well be the greatest cinematic adaptation of a major literary source ever -- and it stands out as one of the most memorable British films of the past thirty years. Full credit is due to cinematographer Roger Deakins who shoots everything in grainy, washed-out, desaturated colors adding to the picture's atmosphere of wistful yet austere, dream-like strangeness. The modern London settings -- with their cobblestone streets, shabby, dilapidated buildings, desolate fields, rubble-strewn alleyways, and forbidding, <more>
blackened Gothic-Victorian façades and hints of minimalist fascist architecture -- resemble a Depression-era housing project after the Luftwaffe. And Dominic Muldowney's score, with its martial clarion calls, bombastic church-organ blasts, and swelling choral leitmotiv of `Oceania, 'tis for thee,' has a mixture of Wagnerian grandeur and Bach-like religiosity about it. All the while, the bizarre, mantra-like drones of the much-maligned Eurythmics soundtrack rises and falls, weaving in and out of the narrative like so many subconscious banshee wails. Radford treats the book's premise not as a sci-fi flight of fantasy or grim prophecy but rather as the world of 1948 seen through a glass darkly -- a kind of medieval morality play for the post-totalitarian age. There is less emphasis on the novel's musty, well-worn-and-endlessly-picked-over polemical import and more focus on the stark human element, and indeed, the actors bear such uncanny resemblance to Orwell's descriptions they practically seem born for their roles.With his quiet, brooding eloquence and haunted eyes peeking out of a gaunt, cadaverous frame like a tubercular, ashen-faced Egon Schiele figure, John Hurt is ideally cast as Winston Smith. As Julia, Suzanna Hamilton first seen as a lovelorn dairymaid in Polanski's TESS and as the paralyzed daughter in BRIMSTONE AND TREACLE has a serene, arresting presence and she appears as mysteriously stirring and beguiling to us as she does to Hurt. She brings a captivating freshness and warmth to her role, a little reminiscent of a young Harriet Andersson. Her pale, wiry, broad-hipped body has a simple, unaffected, almost archetypal beauty, and in the film's more intimate moments, she radiates all the tactile sensual grace of a Munch or Degas nude.As O'Brien, the Jesuitical inquisitor of infinite patience, Richard Burton delivers a superbly perspicacious swan-song performance he becomes almost a kind of an oracular Thanatos to Hamilton's Eros. In an exquisite, maliciously Swiftian twist of irony, Burton's famous voice, with its rich, mellifluous Welsh inflections and descending cadences of Shakespearean sonnets and Dylan Thomas poetry, becomes a cruel herald of the willful, systematic destruction of the human spirit -- of `the worst thing in the world' that waits in Room 101 in the fated `place where there is no darkness.' When O'Brien tells Winston, `you are thinking that my face is old and tired and that while I talk of power I am unable to prevent the decay of my own body,' Burton's sagging, weary face speaks volumes.In the lesser roles, Gregor Fisher's Parsons literally resembles a sweaty frog, James Walker's Syme is the classic image of a squirrelly, mealy-mouthed hack-intellectual, while Andrew Wilde cuts the most chilling figure as the bespectacled, unblinking company man,' Tillotson. The late Cyril Cusack plays Mr. Charrington, the kindly Cockney landlord who is not all that he appears to be, with an understated sentimental charm punctuated by slight flickers of calculating menace watch closely for the way Cusack's facial expression changes whenever Hurt is not looking at him . Phyllis Logan the star of Radford's début feature, ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER PLACE, and a supporting player in Mike Leigh's SECRETS AND LIES provides one of the film's most clever unacknowledged ironies: as the Telescreen Announcer, her strident, hectoring voice suggests a more shrill caricature of Margaret Thatcher.If anything, this film makes a unique and compelling case for some of the oldest cinematic devices in the book that nearly all contemporary filmmakers have since abandoned: slow dissolves, fades, blackouts, shock-cuts, slow motion, flashbacks, montage. The high-contrast photography, alternately harsh and low-key lighting, and iconic close-up shots evoke the abstract, transcendental purity of Bresson or Dreyer. There is even one extraordinary sequence when Winston, bruised and battered, is seen having his head shorn in a holding cell that is clearly meant to recall Falconetti's famous haircutting scene in Dreyer's LA PASSION DE JEANNE D'ARC 1928 . Similarly, Burton is filmed in oppressive, looming low-angle with Expressionist shadows defining the lines of his craggy visage à la Eugène Silvain's Bishop Cauchon sans the warts. And the idyllic barley fields of the Golden Country,' where Winston and Julia have their first tryst is a possible homage to the titular peasant paradise of Dovzhenko's EARTH 1926 .What makes the film so powerful is not merely its fidelity to its source but its vivid sense of realism. NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR is such an impassioned and richly textured work that the visuals almost seem to seep into the pores of your skin, intoxicating you with dread and longing. And Radford is so adept at obscuring the boundaries that separate the ameliorative persistence of reverie from the glaring harshness of waking reality, that the film's seamless perfection becomes almost frightening.
Frankly, I'm offended by the rating this film has received here. This is not only an exceptionally well acted film, a film that is shot not badly, and a film that has some iconographic moments, it is a brave film philosophically. It does not pander to any particular agenda aside from a slight humanism that is forgivable given the subject matter. It is somewhat populist, somewhat sexy and more frightening that most of the garbage being passed as horror these days. The sexual overtones are actually quite effective in the war-torn context, and add depth to the film that might not have been <more>
there if it was purely a polemic against Trotskyism.Good stuff, and I congratulate the makers of this film for visual expansion and interpretation of an interesting, but dated, book.
I really have only one thing to comment on. Most of the other reviewers have stated just about everything about this wonderfully gritty, dark, foreboding movie that still remains an eerie parallel to our lives today, especially in the last 2 years...But I'm confused by the number of people who have commented that claim to be put off by "the gratuitous nudity" by the two characters of Winston and Julia. Given the fact that everything in this society--waking up, food, habits, desires, work, workers, even the underwear and overalls--is so uniform, has it occurred to viewers that <more>
being nude was the only link to identity that these characters had? Everything in their world depends, thrives on sameness. Without clothes, everyone is unique. The two lovers were already in dire conditions by committing the sin of feeling for another human being, let alone carnally but in the heart. And they had to deceive and pretend and go through the motions of the dutiful cogs in the Big Brother wheel. But their only shared peace and comfort was their sacred time alone, and in love. They had finally found their own identities through loving each other. Their nudity was merely symbolic of that. In that sense, their union and expressions of that union only becomes more fragile, beautiful and honest, in such a heartless, cold, indifferent world.May that be truly said of us, and all of us...OK, that out of the way...one of the most gritty, realistic, honest translations ever to grace the screen. Wouldn't have changed a thing. Highly, highly recommended, along with the original 1955 version of "Animal Farm". Perfect double-feature for a somber, thoughtful evening's viewing.
one of the best adaptations of a novel ever (by revcosmo)
...right up there with Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange and Cronenberg's Naked Lunch. In my estimation, a novel-made-film oughtn't be judged by its adherence to details, but rather its communication of the original spirit of the book. The film Nineteen Eighty Four flawlessly communicates the despair and hopelessness of the novel. All of the darker sides of human nature are perfectly, and thoroughly disturbingly, captured in this film. John Hurt does a marvelous job of portraying Winston Smith, the ordinary man stuck in a relentlessly dystopic society. Just when Smith is finally able <more>
to see some hope of salvation and liberation, in his forbidden love affair with Julia, that hope is smashed to bits by the cruel reality of a world bent on control and dominance.The dreariness of the set and cinematography further solidifies the paranoia of what might happen and appears to be happening to the world if we're not very careful of who we let in charge of it. Granted, the film is a horrible downer, to say the least. But that's the point. There are few films that chill me to the bone as 1984 does.
A classic complicated book is made into a equally complex and disturbing film! (by TheLittleSongbird)
Everything about this movie felt so real, the cinematography, the outstanding music, the acting, the entire look of the film. John Hurt is perfectly cast as Winston Smith. If you want more of this talented man's work, try the Elephant Man, Watership Down, The Black Cauldron and Lord of the Rings the animation Richard Burton was wonderful as the sinister O'Brien, and their scene in Room 101 was the highlight of the film, and is also the best bit of the book. The Room 101 scene is very disturbing, and sees Winston as a broken man, people O'Brien pulls out Winston's tooth here, <more>
the sound that made disturbed me greatly. The cinematography was excellent, with the graphic darkness and the pastoral imagery. Susanna Hamilton is also good as Julia, though the sex scene in the woods was a little too much information, everyone in my year 11 English class, i was 16 when I first saw this, covered their eyes when Julia stripped naked. However, this is very faithful to the source material, well it may need to be to convey the terror of living in an omnipotent society. All in all, a powerful and effective film, based on a complicated but truly excellent book. 9/10 Bethany Cox.
"I went ahead and did it just the same......" (by mcginter)
Couple of points:Doesn't give it a 'nice' Hollywood ending, which is a bonus. It was filmed at exactly the same period in April 1984 that the book was set in. etc......This is a truly evocative film. For me there is a big test of the film's quality: Nineteen Eighty-Four is my favourite book by my favourite author, and this version does that book great justice. Michael Radford did a very fine job on something that could have gone terribly wrong. Yes, there are some points to pick at Newspeak isn't explained much, and the central plank of the book which O'Brien gives to <more>
Smith in his office is hardly mentioned at all , but these are minor things.Fans of Orwell's work have much to be thankful for in this interpretation. Graham Greene can lay claim with Orwell to be English fictions greatest writer, and there has not been a truly excellent version of any of his novels. The Third Man does not count, as Greene wrote the screenplay first, and the novel second .On the whole I think Radford has done an excellent job with a fairly un-filmable book, and I give it 9/10
Before I start with my review about the movie I want to say a few words about myself and George Orwell's book. I'm 18, so maybe I'm still young and naive. I guess I don't know many things and I haven't seen many things. I read the book three times in original in English I mean, it's not my native language . I am astonished. I often imagine our future somber and dark. I love movies like Brazil, Mad Max, On The Beach and so on. Post-apocalyptic tales, visions from the future of our world, nuclear nightmares. Warnings. I think that we will be destroyed one day. Destroyed <more>
by our own greed, arrogance and self-confidence. And what is sad is that most of the people overlook these warnings. They accept such books and movies as entertainment. They do not see beyond. It's like we all know that we are going towards our doom, but nobody cares to change the direction. If after several centuries a man watches these movies he will probably say "The bloody bastards knew that it would happen and still did nothing to prevent it. Then we deserve to be extinct..." At least I hope that we won't be ruled by Apes! A girl from my class heard me once talking about "1984". "This is probably the most stupid and boring book I've ever read!" "Like you've read many books in your life" I thought, but I just said "In fact it is a deep, profound book. It is a prophecy." But she continued "It's just a dull boring book". "You just cannot understand this book. It's you who's dull... and you don't even know it." - I answered. And about the movie. In fact I was a little bit annoyed. If I haven't read the book first I would probably do not grasp the whole idea. The movie is mostly visual performance of some moments from the book. It does not represent the whole idea of Orwell's 1984 world. The audience needs to be familiar with all those things like 3 world powers, telescreens, propaganda and so on. For example when Winston admires the song he says that it is written by a machine, but the woman makes it sound beautiful. And if you are not familiar with the book you'll probably wonder what is this machine, which writes songs. And the movie is full of such moments. The style is good, the costumes too. The sets are very good-looking. But the movie as a whole in my opinion is a number of scenes with no logical linking. Probably the best thing in this movie is the music. My advice - read the book. Then watch the movie, but do not expect to see something unique or great. I want a remake! This story has a great potential and if it is told in the right way it might be a magnificent movie.
chillingly brutal in its depiction of a disturbing dystopia (by framptonhollis)
This brilliant adaptation of George Orwell's immoral classic of the same name nearly matches its source material in terms of quality which is quite the achievement, considering the fact that "1984" is by far one of the greatest novels I have ever read . The chilling direction and pitch perfect performances help make this disturbing vision all the more of a truthful gut punch. The fact that such a hard hitting and seemingly over the top story remains entirely relevant in today's chaotic political climate is both a disgrace and a testament to Orwell's genius, and the <more>
cinematic capturing of Orwell's classic is one of practically unbeatable quality. While little to nothing is added to the plot, the visual accompaniment of the story enhances its impact. The cinematography is fittingly dull, soaked entirely of the joys o color. The performances are simply perfect, making this one of the few novel adaptations I have seen in which I felt that the actors absolutely nailed their performing of the original work's dialogue. At the center of this terrifying satire is the performance of Richard Burton who is both subtle and mind blowingly horrifying in his indescribably villainous role, while John Hurt provides a sometimes timid, sometimes paranoid, and other times absolutely petrified protagonist that attempts to escape from the norms of the totalitarian society he is forced to live in.While not necessarily a "horror" movie, there is no doubt that "1984" is among the most genuinely SCARY films that I have ever seen. Both the book and film have succeeded in making me shake like drug addicted pepper and salt shakers. The dystopia depicted here accurately displays the horror of an overly controlling and oppressive government system forcing its propaganda upon those below, and outwardly embracing anti-free speech and pro-war beliefs. I must restate how sadly relevant this work remains.