I ended my long break from movies with the film adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984). It’s a difficult to watch film but will definitely leave some interesting threads to wander about when it’s over.
The novel was published in 1949 and pictures a future society in 1984 where freedom of thought and reasoning are chained by allegiance to the incumbent political party. History is being re-written and the present is being doctored. Surveillance and deceit are omnipresent. The party is the new God and everyone against it are to be crushed.
There are few novels like Nineteen Eighty-Four which have inspired many more works of art. While watching the film I could identify striking similarities in films like Brazil or Equilibrium. In fact, Brazil was release the next year! As you might have noticed by now, the film Nineteen Eighty-Four was released in 1984, a deliberate attempt to reconstruct the theme at the exact time.
The film is disturbing and intentionally incoherent at times which only emphasizes the questions it leaves behind. Can the thoughts of people be chained enough to erase their most cherished pieces of memory? Can their greatest fears achieve that? The film doesn’t answer any of these questions and makes you think.
It surprises me that the greatest authors were so much ahead of their own times. Works like Nineteen Eighty-Four would never become irrelevant. In every society, country and economy there are crisis periods and the leaders sometimes choose unorthodox methods to counter them. Nineteen Eighty-Four is a reality and a possibility even today, only the methods might have changed.
The acting is top-notch and it’s difficult to forget the helpless John Hurt trying to figure out the only way to escape increasingly gruesome torture. Suzanna Hamilton brings life to the recklessness of her character. Above all, the exceptional acting of Richard Burton and the dynamic Room 101 would give you nightmares for a while. The filmography of the dystopian society is perfect. Occasional fake announcements of the glory of Oceania and the results from the “war” would make you bitter.
My rating would be 8.5/10. The lower rating of 7.2 (at the time of writing) on IMDB is understandable given this is a work from one of the greatest thinkers of all times with a complex story-line and an inconclusive (as well as ambiguous) ending. In my opinion Nineteen Eighty-Four has every aspect of a cult movie.
Winston Smith: Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two equals four. If that is granted, all else follows.