Brave New World (1980)

Article 2905 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-21-2009
Posting Date: 7-27-2009
Directed by Burt Brinckerhoff
Featuring Keir Dullea, Bud Cort, Kristoffer Tabori
Country: USA

In the future, people are bred to belong to select classes and are kept happy through the ingestion of a drug called soma. When an alpha male and a beta female visit a primitive colony on a vacation, they set off a chain of events in which a civilized man, brought up as a savage, is taken out of his setting and introduced to the world of the civilized men.

It’s been years since I’ve read Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel, which I’ve always seen as something of a companion piece to George Orwell’s 1984, only with a remarkably different dystopia. I’m going to give this movie the benefit of the doubt at this point, and assume that it more or less captures the story of the novel. I say this because I find the story very interesting indeed; it follows the adventures of several characters in this future world, and explores the way cultures can develop different and irreconcilable forms of morality. It also explores the theme of how the removal of pain, sadness and suffering can also remove the spark of human spirit; in particular, the use of the works of Shakespeare as a counterpoint to the bland events of this “brave new world” demonstrates that greatness will not exist where suffering does not exist. The movie (which ran over two nights and runs about three hours long without commercials) is also well cast; in particular, I like Bud Cort as Bernard Marx, who was allowed to live and develop despite the fact that his embryo had been damaged while still in the bag. Also memorable are Keir Dullea, Julie Cobb, Ron O’Neal, Marcia Strassman, and Dick Anthony Williams. The direction is only so-so, and, despite the fact that the movie does have a sense of humor, I do think certain moments are unintentionally funny. Nevertheless, the strong story and the good performances prevail.


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