Nineteen Eighty-four

Year: 1984

Production: Umbrella-Rosenblum / Virgin Cinema Films

Director: Michael Radford

Starring: John Hurt, Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton, Cybil Cusack

Screenwriter: Michael Radford, Jonathan Gems

Based on Nineteen Eighty-four (1949) by George Orwell

110 minutes; Color


This second film version (see 1984 [1955]) is better acted and more intelligent than its predecessor, but still stresses the romantic interest, substituting an orthodoxly liberal lovers-against-the-system sadness for Orwell's sheer savagery and irony. It was eight weeks into shooting before Burton was cast as the treacherous O'Brien, Smith's torturer, and he seems a little cut off from the rest of the film.
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

Launched, in the words of its executive producer, Marvin J. Rosenblum, with "the greatest marketing hook that there ever was for a movie: a film of Nineteen Eighty-four made in 1984', in retrospect most of the film's successes (and some of its failures) belong to the marketing department. Thus, the film was actually finished and (just) shown in 1984, featured the last performance of Burton and , one the debit side, the debate about its score - after Dominic Muldowney's music was used in the previews it was largely replaced by music from the rock duo the Eurhymics at the behest of Virgin - kept the film in the news during the first half of 1985. Turning to the film itself, apart from the bold device of imagining the future in terms of what life might look like 40 years on seen from 1948 director Radford has, like Michael Anderson before him, trivialized Orwell's novel. His film is far superior to Anderson's 1956 version, but, like that, reduces what was intended as a savage satire on the growth of authoritarianism, what was clearly a political work, into a melodrama pure and simple.

Hurt is Winston Smith, the doubter who turns to self-expression (his diary) and then love out of boredom with the ways of Big Brother before being re-educated by Burton and left to live out his life as a wreck, and Hamilton the obscure object of his desire.

The Overlook Film Encyclopedia - Science Fiction

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