140 Character Movie Review – #140RVW
Nearly perfect adaptation, by which I mean it’s just as eye-opening, visceral and difficult to enjoy as the source novel. #ISoldYouYouSoldMe
Spoiler-free Movie Review of Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984):
“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”
What with one thing and another, I missed the 30th anniversary of Nineteen Eighty-Four this past December. Not that it really matters – the film is timeless. Actually, I only missed finishing my review on time – I most certainly watched the film. Several times, actually. It says a lot about how amazing this film is that I have willingly put it on many times, because it is anything but enjoyable to watch.
“Under the spreading chestnut tree. I sold you, you sold me.”
Nineteen Eighty-Four is a truly disturbing film. A perfectly realized vision of the absolute terror of the source novel. With a surplus of dystopian tales out there now, nothing touches this one. It’s not the obvious stuff, the big displays, it’s the complete acceptance of the horrible state of affairs by the people – explosions happen and no one even looks up.
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
The Two Minutes’ Hate at the beginning of the film is savagely heartbreaking. One of the ugliest scenes ever put to film.
It’s hard to imagine how this adaptation could possibly be any better. Writer/director Michael Radford constructed an absolute masterpiece. The picture has such a slow pace, but it’s just the thing for this story.
The acting is plusskillful, and needed to be for this material to work so well. John Hurt is absolutely perfect in the role of Winston Smith.
Suzanna Hamilton is the actress who plays Julia. Why did she never become a huge star? She had a good career, but based off of this film, should have been given more work. Hers is a masterful performance, even in a film teeming with them. Richard Burton is predictably great in his last film role.
The film rights to the novel were given by George Orwell’s widow (Sonia) only upon assurance that the picture wouldn’t be a big special effects display. That prohibition works wonders for the enduring quality of the film – it looks like it could have been made any time in the past 50 years or the next 20. The visual look of the film is courtesy of legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, bleaching out the negatives during processing. Masterful.
About the only misstep in the picture may be the music by Eurythmics (well, it was 1984…), which replaced the original score by Dominic Muldowney, although with the various versions released on home video and in different regions, I’m not really even sure which version I’ve seen. So I’d have to say that the modern music is not as distracting as expected – since I don’t even know if I’ve ever noticed it…
Nineteen Eighty-Four is an exquisite interpretation of Orwell’s defining work. Unusually for such a bleak tale, it has a rewatchability that is at odds with it’s unpleasant portrait of a potential future/present. It’s a brutal book, of course, and the source material has that same counter-intuitive attraction. I don’t know that you could reasonably say that the film is more effective in telling the story, but I wouldn’t hesitate to count this among the more EFFECTIVE adaptations of a classic novel ever to see release…
“If you want a vision of the future, Winston, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.”
The Representation Test Score: D (3 pts)
|Main Cast||John Hurt Winston Smith, Richard Burton O’Brien, Suzanna Hamilton Julia, Cyril Cusack Charrington|
|Release Date||Fri 14 Dec 1984 UTC|
|Genres||Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi, Thriller|
|Plot||George Orwell’s novel of a totalitarian future society in which a man whose daily work is rewriting history tries to rebel by falling in love.|
|Writers||George Orwell (novel), Michael Radford (written by)|