>> See December 22, 2002 and
January 10, 2003 for updates <<
Are you ready for the longest review I've ever written?
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) is, in my opinion, one of the best
novel-to-screen adaptions ever made, for the best novel ever written (and don't get philosophized with me about "the other
book", because I don't believe in god ).
If you've read the book, you already know that you should expect a very depressing movie. And indeed, this is one of the
most depressing movies I've ever seen (yes, it's even more depressing than Dead Ringers). I guess that might
explain why this astonishing gem is so underrated. So underrated that, as far as I know, it hasn't been released on DVD
(only on VHS and LaserDisc).
Another reason (apart from being a very non-commercial and non-mainstream movie) is that the book is quite hard to "get". The
way I see it, everyone sees and understands something else from it. The "outer layer" is a political satire and most people
see it only as a "negative prophecy". But for me it's a much more complicated creation, which works on so many levels. It
deals with the basic and most important issues in life, society, government, wars, religion, education, brain-washing, the
place of the individual, the hardship of being alone (physically and mentally), the concept of holding two contradictious
thoughts at the same time, the position of the individual in history, the nothingness of being human, love, family, loyalty
and betrayal, the instinct of any animal in nature to survive, and so much, much more.
Being so complicated, I think it's impossible to bring all the concepts of the book to the big screen (Naked Lunch,
anyone? Heh, maybe Cronenberg should have handled 1984 too). So don't expect to find everything in the movie
(this is the point to mention that several minor changes were made for the movie). If you like it, I recommend you to read
the book. I think that together they "complete" each other, in the sense that the former "brings life" to the latter: When
I read the book (at least 4 times by now) I "see" and "hear" the characters as they appear in the movie. I can't imagine
how the reading would be without it.
Back to the movie, which, by the way, was shot on exactly the same dates (up to the day!) and locations as imagined
by author George Orwell. It stars John Hurt, my favorite British actor, in what might be his best performance
ever. Very few actors can give so much realism to such a demanding and difficult role (especially the torture scenes).
This is also Richard Burton's last movie, and it's dedicated to him. Burton is excellent in his role, and his
casting is perfect. His voice and speeches will stay with you for a very long time.
All the other actors are excellent too: Suzanna Hamilton as Julia, Gregor Fisher (which you might recognize
from the TV Bean-like comedy "The Baldy Man") as Parsons, Cyril Cusack as Charrington, and more.
Dominic Muldowney did a fantastic job with the music and songs, and the Eurythmics contribution works well
here, especially Annie Lennox's heavenly voice (but keep their CD-soundtrack aside - it's so much different from the
movie's atmosphere, except for the end-credits song, "Julia"). Muldowney's
score, titled Nineteen Eighty-Four - The Music of
Oceania, was finally released in 1999. It's 54 minutes long and contains 24 tracks.
Roger Deakins' cinematography and film-processing is excellent, giving the film the required atmosphere and aging
And of course, Michael Radford, who also made the adaption, directed the movie flawlessly.
Well, if you read this review up to here, you understand how good I think the movie and novel are. I can't recommend them
enough. But be warned - both are extremely depressing and require a lot of thinking. Oh, don't read it in any
language other than English!
One last word - the rip itself is quite poor. It's from a bad VHS with Danish subtitles (I'm not kidding...) and the
quality in the last few minutes is horrible (picture jumps, audio is slowed down). But since this is the only rip that
currently exist on eDonkey, it's better than not having the movie at all.
You can find some images and audio-clips from the movie on
DK's rating: 10/10
Buy the VHS
Buy the novel
Review of Dominic Muldowney's score
Buy the Eurythmics' song soundtrack
Download VHS rip, English with Danish subtitles (bad quality)