Reviews

1984

2

Releasing 1984 in 1984 did arouse some interest, but even at the time, helmer Michael Radford's take on George Orwell's nightmarish future vision seemed awkward and outdated. Two decades on, John Hurt's ragged face is still perfect for ill-fated rebel Winston Smith and Richard Burton - in his last film - has no trouble with sinister party boss O'Brien. But there remains a laziness about Radford's direction that whiffs of TV drama.

You need more than a few jump cuts and a bit of silence to carry the story's creeping malevolence, and the film remains a poor relation to Terry Gilliam's dystopian fantasy Brazil, released the following year. Interesting point: if Orwell had known his book would be the inspiration for Big Brother, would he have binned it at page one? We'd have lost one of literature's greatest works, but at least we would have been spared Jade Goody. A small price to pay...

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