Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: John Hurt, Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton, Cyril Cusack, Gregor Fisher
Director: Michael Radford
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Michael Radford's adaption of George Orwell's foreboding literary premonition casts John Hurt and Suzanna Hamilton as lovers who must keep their courtship secret. Aside from criminalizing sex and interpersonal relationshi... more »
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Member Movie Reviews
Holly M. (Emerald) from WALSENBURG, CO
Reviewed on 12/10/2007...
Follows the book well. I thought the actors John Hurt and Richard Burton did an excellent job portraying the characters. Would recommend this movies to anyone who enjoyed the book.
Get Your Boot Off Of My Face!
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 04/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Attention: For those who did not read George Orwell's classic dystopian novel "1984" in high school, college, or through personal initiative, please take the time to do so before diving into the soul shattering experience of the film version of this book, aptly titled "1984." I imagine that many viewers could experience lapses of extreme boredom if they do not have a sufficient understanding of newspeak, thoughtcrime, and the political dynamics of Oceania/Eastasia/Eurasia before experiencing this soul shattering film. You might even want to read a few items about communism and fascism before watching the movie. In any event, the book and film are chilling in their presentation of a world in the grip of pure totalitarianism.Originally released in 1984, "1984" tells the story of Winston Smith. Smith lives and works in what used to be the city of London, before an atomic war swept away the world as we know it and ushered in the dark gloom of Big Brother. Smith spends his days working away in a booth at the Ministry of Information, constantly updating and rewriting the party organs in order to make history fit with present realities. In the course of a day's work, Winston routinely changes rationing promises, removes people labeled as "non-persons" from articles, and burns records. During his off hours, he sits in his ratty apartment under the constant surveillance of the state, which keeps an eye on him through a giant monitor in his living room and with hovering helicopters outside his window. Occasionally, Winston gets to attend giant party rallies where he and other members of INGSOC watch televised propaganda tapes about the endless war with Eastasia (or is it Eurasia?). Each day is bleak, filled with consumer shortages, the endless nattering of propaganda in the background ("War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, Freedom is Slavery"), and dreams about his life as a child or a place in the countryside.Unfortunately for Winston, he just cannot make himself accept the prevailing view, namely that one need only give oneself up to the party and never question anything INGSOC pronounces as truth. His job reconstructing history makes him acutely aware that the party lies incessantly, and in Winston's world losing faith in the party means losing one's life after visiting Room 101 in the Ministry of Love. To make matters worse, Winston catches the eye of the lovely Julia and quickly becomes embroiled in seditious activities that Big Brother more than frowns upon. After Winston falls in with a high party official named O'Brien, the downward spiral begins in earnest, leading to an interrogation that is definitely an upsetting viewing experience.This film is by necessity an intensely character driven vehicle. Thankfully, director Michael Radford obtained the services of John Hurt and Richard Burton to play Winston and O'Brien. Hurt shines as the tortured Winston, looking as though he's on death's door while he trudges through another bland day in Oceania. Burton is properly menacing as the enigmatic O'Brien, playing his role of party thug with equal parts compassion (oddly enough) and threat. I know less about Suzanna Hamilton, the actress who plays Julia, although she does an admirable job working between two great film stars. Incidentally, this was Burton's last film role.I loved the atmosphere of this film. Radford creates a dank, dingy London I wouldn't even think about strolling through without a full body protection suit. The ubiquitous audio and visual propaganda is a nice touch as well, creating a sense of total immersion in Winston's world. As Winston slogs through the bombed out backdrop of London on his way to work, the viewer becomes aware of the party's total grip on the people through the canard of total war. The omnipresent image of Big Brother should certainly bring a smirk to anyone familiar with Russian history, since the guy looks a lot like Lenin.I noticed that the Eurythmics soundtrack, while advertised on the case and in the credits, is missing from the film. This did not bother me much since I first saw the film years ago and do not remember much about the soundtrack other than the excellent score by Dominic Muldowney... I feel sorry for those who looked forward to having that part of the soundtrack included in their purchase. Despite this omission, the film is very much worth the money.Great imagery, great acting, and a great message about the evils of 20th century fascism and communism make "1984" a must have for any film lover. I'll watch John Hurt in nearly anything, but he really turns in a powerful performance here. Pick up this movie and watch for the warning signs!"
One of the best book adaptations ever
Ryan Harvey | Los Angeles, CA USA | 02/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Nineteen Eighty-Four" (the actual on-screen title) is a rare example of a film adaptation of a book that faithfully transfers the visions and theme of the book's author, right down to even filming on the dates that the author specified (April-June 1984). George Orwell's frightening, hellish novel of a future where freedom has vanished, even from the minds of human beings, has been turned into an equally frightening film version. Its tale of a government that seeks to utterly crush the human spirit through propaganda, language, and fear, turning human beings into programmed machines, has never been more frightening than today. It is a book and movie for all times, as long as governments lie, tyrannies exist, and people surrender their freedoms in the name of fears, both real and imagined.The casting couldn't be more perfect. John Hurt, looking worn and stretched past his years, is the ideal actor to play "little rebel" Winston Smith, who dares to think against the mysterious Big Brother and to fall in love. In his last film role, Richard Burton is like a glaring Greek Statue, stern and unflappable and scary. It's an unnerving and great performance. As for Suzanna Hamilton, Winston's love Julia, I was shocked when I first saw the movie: she matched exactly the image of Julia I had in my head when I read the book.Director Michael Radford (who also directed "Il Postino") imagines the world of George Orwell exactly as the author would have if he had directed the film: as a wrecked vision of late-40s Britain if it had lost World War II. The set design is stunning, combing some high technology (video screens and computers) with rusty mid-forties technology (pneumatic tubes, rotary phones). Everywhere is decay and deprivation. Nothing really works, everything is bland and ugly in that awful, gray-stone block style that dominated Soviet and Chinese government architecture of the 1940s and 1950s. No doubt about it, the director understood where Orwell was coming from, and the models he was using.Just like the book, "Nineteen Eighty-Four" is a film that will utterly devastate you, get under your skin, and change the way you look at the world. It is a masterpiece.(A note on the disc: Although they receive credit, the music by the Eurythmics has been completely removed, as per the wishes of the director. Since this is a no-frills DVD without much in the way of extras, there is no alternate music track to let people hear the original theatrical soundtrack. However, the film is much much better without the Eurythmics; they don't fit the style and feel of the film or the wonderful original music. Also, the washed-out photographic style of the original released has been changed to a more natural look; but this has been true of every version since the theatrical release. None of this should prevent you from getting hold of this wonderful movie.)"
"We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness..."
The Sentinel | Vancouver, British Columbia Canada | 10/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Michael Radford's film of George Orwell's novel is perhaps the greatest cinematic adaptation ever made from a well-known literary source, and it stands out as one of the most memorable and underrated British films of the past thirty years. Radford treats the book neither as grim political prophecy nor as Wellsian flight of sci-fi futurist speculation. Instead, we are presented with the ruined world of 1948 as seen through a glass darkly - NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR done straight as a kind of medieval morality play for the post-totalitarian age. The end credits inform us, with but a modest air of self-importance, that the picture was shot "in and around London, April-June 1984, at the exact place and time imagined by the author." And the uncanny meta-fictional parallels don't stop there: the actors are so close to Orwell's descriptions, they practically seem born for their roles. Resembling a gaunt, ashen-faced figure out of Egon Schiele, John Hurt is ideally cast as Winston Smith. As Julia, Suzanna Hamilton (first seen as a lovelorn dairymaid in Polanski's TESS and then as the paralyzed daughter in BRIMSTONE AND TREACLE) has a haunting and mysteriously stirring presence. Beyond the bluff, two-dimensional gamine of the novel, she brings a genuine warmth, substance, and fascination to her character - a little reminiscent, at times, of a young Harriet Andersson sans the continental coquettishness. Her pale, wiry, broad-hipped body has a simple, unaffected, even startling beauty; and in her more physically revealing scenes (there are many in the film), she radiates all the tactile sensual grace of a nude by Munch or Degas. The late Richard Burton, featured in his last screen role, is the oracular Thanatos to Hamilton's Eros. As the grand inquisitor, O'Brien, he inhabits this shadowy and inscrutable character with more than just a sly hint of the demon-plagued Jesuit priests he portrayed in THE EXORCIST II and ABSOLUTION. In a maliciously Swiftian twist of irony, the famous Burton voice - the voice of classical drama, of poetry, indeed, of all that is held to be ennobling and edifying about mankind's estate - becomes a subtle and precisely modulated instrument of dehumanization. His death shortly after completing work on the film lends it a particularly cruel and all-too-human pathos. When he says to Hurt, "you are thinking that my face is old and tired...and while I talk of power I am unable to prevent the decay of my own body," the lines in Burton's craggy, weathered face speak volumes for him. It's an exquisite swan-song performance, patient and quietly devastating. In addition to the superb ensemble cast, much credit is due to production designer Allan Cameron and cinematographer Roger Deakins, who shoots everything in a grainy, desaturated monochrome of blues and greys. The stark high-contrast photography often evokes the power and purity of Dreyer and Bresson, and there is even one extraordinary shot of a battered and delirious Hurt awaiting torture that is an unmistakable homage to Falconetti's famous haircutting scene in LA PASSION DE JEANNE D'ARC. Also notable is Dominic Muldowney's operatic score, an ingenious and even moving parody of Elgar's patriotic overtures and Prokofiev's Stalinist anthems. But it is Phyllis Logan (the star of Radford's first feature, ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER PLACE, and a supporting player in Mike Leigh's SECRETS AND LIES) who provides the film with one its most caustic conceits. As the unseen voice of the Telescreen Announcer, her incessant nannyish hectoring suggests a more shrill caricature of Margaret Thatcher. The film is impressive less for its fidelity to its source than its harrowingly vivid sense of realism, and how unobtrusively Radford manages to transcend the faults and contradictions of the novel to create an entirely plausible dystopian vision with a life of its own. That in itself makes NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR a great and original piece of filmmaking - its seamless perfection is still practically unequaled in the English-language cinema of recent years."