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on 4 June 2006
George Orwell wrote the prophetic words "Freedom is the right to say two plus two equals four" in his novel 1984, a right denied to the people by the fictional government of his book. Many readers drew parallels between the Ingsoc dominated Oceania to Soviet Russia, an analog that remained true until the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. Today, however, the right to state a simple truth is also threatened and a number of precepts from 1984 appear to apply. Consider "Who controls the past controls the future", the function of the Ministry of Truth where the main protagonist Winston Smith works editing the documented past to support the will of the government in the name of democracy and freedom. Ring any bells?

This movie version (and there've been a few) is in my opinion the most complete version painting an horrific picture of an oppressed distrusted people dominated by a brutal self-serving government. Richard Burton in his last role portrays an Ingsoc inner-party member, the inside man to John Hurt's "Winston Smith". Both excel in their roles, they're believable, real, and in Burton's case truly terrifying. Suzanna Hamilton plays the part of Julia, Winston's lover and ultimately the tool of his demise. There are some specifically disturbing scenes in this portrayal, notably the torture of Winston Smith - if ever John Hurt deserved an Oscar, it should have been for 1984.

The movie is one of those pictures that you just can't stop, but are unsure that you can bear to see what happens next. The performances were stunning, the production dark and consistent, the movie a dreadful vision of what could have been, and as every right we enjoy is eroded, could still be.

1984 still stands as important literature for the 21st century and this movie version stands as the definitive version, standing as both an education and a warning.

And remember, if there is hope, it lies with the proles, the real people.
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on 1 July 2015
1984 -- so darkly iconic was the number of that year by the time the actual calendar year arrived, it was no surprise that someone would make George Orwell's dark dystopian book into a film. And kudos to Michael Radford for doing such a glumly excellent job at it! Although Suzanne Hamilton's Julia seemed far more like a cold, heartless "anti-tart" than a woman with normal feminine angst when things are as bad as Orwell depicted (compared to previous motion picture incarnations of Winston Smith's star-crossed lover -- in a world where even looking up and watching the stars is "doubleplusunlawful"), John Hurt's portrayal of the film's hapless main character (in a world where haplessness is the strictly enforced "doubleplusnormal") is so right on the spot that I am doubleplushocked that Hurt wasn't nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for that role -- doubleplusshame on the Academy! And this is also Richard Burton's acting swan song where he gives a doubleplusgood final performance, with a doubleplusfitting dedication to the late great ex-Mr. Liz Taylor within the film. I would have given this a 4.5/5-star rating due to Hamilton's heartless portrayal of Julia had it not been for online techno-feasibility issues.
And at any rate, this film -- the only version which, to my knowledge, is in colour (albeit "doubleplusmuted") -- has more well-filmed doubleplusglumness per frame than any of the black-and-white versions that came before Radford's film, which does this film doubleplusjustice several times over. As a cinematic warning, it doubleplussadly went unheeded -- the world of 1984 (even though it is 2015 as I write this) is here, like it or not. So if you want a film by which you could gauge today's human condition, purchase 1984 from Amazon.co.uk -- before it is doubleplustoolate!
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George Orwell’s unforgettable vision of the future written in 1949 is one of the great 20th century masterpieces, and this film does a superb job of realising it on the screen.
John Hurt brilliantly portrays Winstone Smith’s silent inner rebellion against the Big Brother regime and its stated goals to destroy human feelings by destroying the family, to destroy communication by the destruction of the language, so people become little more than automatons, all overseen by the thought police. His forbidden love affair with Smith’s Julia (Suzanna Hamilton) encapsulates their rebellion beautifully.
Then there is Richard Burton as the inquisitor O’Brien who brain washes Winstone, giving one of the performances of his life. After "1984" Burton filmed “Wagner” (another magnificent performance) two isolated instances of him achieving on film his true potential, ironically just before dying by the end of the year.
The settings are exactly as described in the book, dark, stark, dirty and oppressive. Watching the film one can well believe O’Brien when he says to Winstone “if you want a vision of the future imagine a boot forever stamping on a human face”.
The more arcane aspect of the destruction of language and the development of “Newspeak” is given as much prominence as is commensurate with dramatic necessity.
This production sets a definitive standard for filming “1984” and is a must for all lovers of the book.
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on 19 July 2012
I had been looking for this film in vain for a while so finding it on Amazon was a great relief. The DVD delivers just what you want, the film as it appeared in the cinemas in 1984/5. Not a lot of extra features but that is no loss. Richard Burton is great in his last film and John Hurt and Suzanna Hamilton portray the doomed lovers ("We are the dead") secretly meeting in a society which is striving to achieve total control of each individual, in so doing going so far as to 'cure' orgasmic pleasure. Seldom does a film do justice to the novel upon which it is based, however director Michael Radford has achieved this with a neat twist, the filming was done on dates corresponding to the events in Orwell's story. And as a great film ending should, this one leaves you wondering, "Are they...?"
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on 12 May 2011
I ordered this movie specifically because Amazon states that is the 2004 release. That is the version with the Eurythmics soundtrack, as the film was originally shown in theaters. Instead, this a 2009 DVD, with the Dominic Muldowney soundtrack. Nothing wrong with that version, but I would like to have both to compare. So four stars for the movie, minus one for not being the correct version.

Now, where can I find the actual 2004/Eurythmics version on DVD?
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on 15 September 2007
The casting for this film is absolutely spot on and refreshingly, the story as depicted on the screen is pretty much faithfull to Orwell's book.

I thoroughly recommend the film to anyone who has an interest in social history and/or social psychology.

Although Orwell set his book in an authoritarian world of people-directed government (no doubt because of his experiences immediately before, during and after the WW2 period) much of what he wrote and which is depicted in the film for citizens of the 20th Century holds good for many employees the 21st Century (Mission Statements, Corporate Culture, Buzz Words, Management-Speak, etc). Merely substitute 'Big Brother' government for 'Big Brother' corporations - and then watch the film.

Scarey stuff...
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VINE VOICEon 24 August 2008
Naturally any film media can not place the entire book on the screen with maybe the exception of "Hamlet" (1996). With anything less than a mini-series. Second is it the story or the philosophy that needs to be transmitted? If you are lucky you get both.

In this case we are lucky because both the basic story and the basic philosophy were transmitted in this movie. An added plus, you could say double plus good, was the portraying the environment as a period piece as described in the book and not as some modern version. The story "1984" was envisioned in 1948.

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In a society that has eliminated many imbalances, surplus goods, and even class struggle, there are bound to be deviates; Winston Smith (John Hurt) is one of those. He starts out, due to his inability to doublethink, with thoughtcrime. This is in a society that believes a thought is as real as the deed. Eventually he graduates through a series of misdemeanors to illicit sex (Suzanna Hamilton) and with the help of an encouraging inter party member (Richard Burton) even plans to overthrow the very government that took him in as an orphan.

If he gets caught, he will be sent to the "Ministry of Love" where they have a record of 100% cures for this sort of insanity. They will even forgive his past indiscretions.

---------------------------------------------

This version is a little more graphic than the other two earlier commercial movies. However each movie version brings a different emphasis on this classic story. There is a 2007 version in the works

Read a review of the book "1984" by George Orwell. The movie can stand on its own merit, but knowledge of the book will help fill in the gaps and explain the inferences. Better actors could not have been picked. Richard Burton is in his element.

Many people think this is happening today.
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on 22 July 2014
Based on the classic novel by George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four looks at the possibility of a corrupt government party and what there action could result in. It follows every day man Winston Smith (played terrifically by John Hurt) who indulges in a dangerous affair which could result in the end of his very existence.

This adaptation is a dark and often disturbing look at corruption and what could happen if a government prevented people having the ability to think or feel. The performances are terrific particularly from John Hurt as Winston. Smith and Richard Burton in his final role as O'Brian, a mysterious man who maybe not be all what he seems.
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on 3 June 2009
I read the book first but the DVD gives that additional visual reality the book does not and because it was filmed around London in 1984, make the film that bit more errie. It has been adapted for the screen but it is a good adaptation. It is frightening to see how George Orwell's words and prophecies are played out because they are a little too close to today's society, despite regular debate. Overall, I would rate this film highly for its acting ( a great cast) and because it helped me with my assignment (read the book first though).
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 April 2016
This film is based on Orwell's classic book. It's a story of a dystopian future, ruined by both war and dictatorship. It involves a brutal existence, lacking any sort of freedom (even the freedom to think, to say that 2+2=4).

Orwell's book is excellent (10 out of 10). This film is a decent rendition of the novel, but doesn't quite capture the full detail or depth of the book. It's as if an abbreviation of the book has been filmed. This is understandable, given that the film is less than 2 hours in length. It's difficult to identify what's missing - as all the key scenes and plot points are included. It's as if the overall narrative has been condensed. And, in so being, an important qualitative aspect of the story has been removed.

Nonetheless, it's a well-made British film. The acting is very good. The bleak, stark and gray feel of life in this world of 1984 is truly horrific.

Yet, in my view, a definitive version of the novel has not yet been made into film.
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