NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR (1984)
Article 3521 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-12-2011
Posting Date: 4-5-2011
Directed by Michael Radford
Featuring John Hurt, Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton
What it is: Dystopia
In an oppressive society, a man attempts to have an affair with a female party member, despite the rules against it.
Watching an adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian classic is like watching a sword and sandal flick; you know just what you’re going to get. You know the movie is going to be depressing, joyless, brutal, and whatever other word you can think of to capture the bleakness of this dystopia. So maybe that’s why I went into this with a glum acceptance of the ordeal, and why, after a while, you don’t really feel much of anything at all. This is just as well; it gives you a chance to concentrate on the philosophies and the ideas in the movie, which are probably the real meat of the matter. You can also admire the performances of the three principals. Hurt and Hamilton are excellent, but the real victory goes to Burton, whose matter-of-fact steeliness captures him at his very best. On a side note, I occasionally run into political hyperbole of the type in which the present world is just like that of NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR. Though certain of the concepts of this book have incorporated themselves into our world (and, to be honest, these concepts probably originated in the world as well rather than in the novel; the book just laid them out), I believe we’re nowhere near that reality. After all, you certainly wouldn’t be allowed to watch this movie in that world.