Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

Eyes stare at you while a set of arms is crossed in front, and many other sets of arms are crossed below in a show of solidarity.
The Criterion Collection cover art for the 1984 movie Nineteen Eighty-Four, directed by Michael Radford.
About the movie
  • Director: Michael Radford
  • Starring: John Hurt, Richard Burton, Susanna Hamilton
  • Yes or no?: Yes
  • Links: on Letterboxd, IMDb page
Other reviews:

I was once again struck by the visuals in this movie. I had only ever seen it on a crappy DVD copy (or VHS before that) and remembered it as really dark and gritty and ugly. This time through is was dark and gritty and beautiful.

I am a huge fan of how this movie treats the book. It changes things to fit a shorter narrative arc, but it stays as true to the real thing as it can. I love this and honestly feel like it would be an impossible task to make this better. John Hurt is a tremendous Winston. He immediately looks the part (which I probably have in my head as George Orwell himself) and displays exactly the aloofness Winston shows toward the regime.

Susanna Hamilton is also perfectly cast. She is able to show the anger you can feel while reading about the Two Minutes Hate, and she is very believable when she takes Winston through how “this is supposed to work.” Together she and Hurt make this an incredible adaptation—a classic.

Richard Burton is such in awesome addition. Slightly differently from the book, he doesn’t make much of an impact until they are caught. Then, he takes over as the calm, logical, but absolutely brutal arm of The Party. He breaks Winston down to the very core of his existence and calmly pulls him back. You can see it work. And Burton does a great job making that come to life.

I almost didn’t watch this. I have been a bit afraid to see if it would hold up for me. It did, and despite my thinking this before, I have confirmed that this should be a regular part of my viewing rotation.

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March 02, 2024
Tags: 1984 | george orwell
Categories: Reviews