1984 – The Book and the Film

This famous book was written by George Orwell and was first published in 1949. It describes a totalitarian society of the future where everything and everybody is controlled by Big Brother and the Party. Winston Smith works at the Ministry of Truth rewriting old newspaper stories written mainly about people involved in the continual war being fought. When he embarks on a brief affair with fellow Party member Julia, Winston discovers that life might have a purpose after all and it opens his eyes to various new possibilities. Despite overwhelming odds and constant danger, Winston and Julia continue their affair, they begin to form their own views, begin to question the Party and are subsequently made aware of a conspiracy called The Brotherhood. Unfortunately for them, Big Brother will not tolerate any dissent even in the mind and anybody guilty of Thought Crime must enter Room 101.

In the book, Orwell introduced concepts and phrases which have become widely recognised and widely used today such as Big Brother, Room 101 and even Thought Crime. He predicted the National Lottery too.

All books are open to personal interpretation but most readers will recognise, amongst other things his prediction of political correctness, the war on terror and the influence of a large screen in each room.

I have read and re-read this book many times, it works on many different levels and can be interpreted in so many different ways. It is a fascinating story of an individual and his relationship with a large organisation and each time I read it I discover something new. It’s just as relevant today as on the day it was published

Obviously, a film version was always going to be released in 1984 and it starred John Hurt at the height of his fame and Richard Burton in his last role. Some familiar faces from TV also appear including Gregor Fisher later to star in Rab C Nesbit and Roger Lloyd Pack from Only Fools and Horses. Like most films of books it struggles to convey some of the subtleties of the original although the producers avoid the temptation to rewrite a revered text for the sake of convenience. The subject matter dealt with is hardly a laugh a minute and the film version is pretty grim fare but it tells the story of Winston Smith in a reasonable way and makes most of the important points.

Maybe an appearance by Mary Nesbit or Del Boy might’ve livened up proceedings. Probably not.

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