This is what I like to call a substance film, it’s got such a unique claustrophobic feel to every element of it, it’s a constant array of muted and dismal greys, a concrete totalitarian regime where the people are controlled to the point where their inner thoughts belong to the state and in the midst of this, one man dares to break the rules and fall in love.
Winston Smith (John Hurt) role in life is to re write history, in this bleak future where Big Brother (Bob Flag‘s image) is always watching and a constant voice (Phyllis Logan) can be heard informing the “people” of victory and successes in a war that no one has ever witnessed. But Winston strives for more, he can see the cracks in this fascist regime and he dares to fall in love and rebels against the norm with revolutionist Julia (Suzanna Hamilton) but with intricate overseers including the monstrous O’Brien (Richard Burton) who have carte blanche to enforce what the party ys is right, who would dare defy the party forever.
Obviously drawing from a paranoia of where the human race was heading if hitler or stalin were to drop into power and to be honest we’ve not really paid much attention to the warnings of this amazing book/film etc, instead we’ve made a TV show called Big Brother so we CAN watch other people, new laws are passed daily to spy on people and we are slowly slipping into the Prole class. It’s hard not to get political after you’ve digested this fascinating and terrifying dystopian story.
It’s incredibly uneasy to watch, while your watching the decline of the individual, free thinking and privacy, thoughts creep into the mind that indicate that we’re heading for this dismal future.
Richard Burton (RIP), went out with a surly bang with this, his final film. He’s not on screen for very long but what you do see of him is so calm, reserved and yet extremely powerful, listening to him he sounds like a gentle friends but the torture scenes near the end make him out to be very much the opposite, John Hurt’s fragile looking character goes through a lot of thoughts and torture especially once he makes it into room 101, and attempting to drill 2+2=5 into him. It’s uncanny how many words from the newspeak that have been adopted, and most all there to describe a picking at society.
The movie shows a slice of this dismal life, from the gutter looking up to Big Brother looking down everyone. John hurt shuffles around alien English streets (now Oceana) with the guilt of his job on his shoulders and the want of being free, even while he wears his standard uniform, this is truly a reality where you are a number and not a person anymore.
The original book has influenced a series of sub cultures, new words and concepts and many poignant messages, while it shines through in this graphic and chilling movie, it’s moody melancholy atmosphere twinned with the claustrophobic prying eyes of big brother and constant announcements bring the clear message from the book onto the screen. Even without the violent ending it will get any intelligent audience thinking and honestly remarkable in many ways, although I can’t recommend the book enough, it really demands to be read.
full review and lots of post discussion stuff to come