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 relationships, the ruling party in their country Oceania both fabricates reality and reconstructs history for the sake of oppressing the masses. They brainwash their citizens via large, propaganda-spewing TV monitors installed in their living rooms, which also inspect everyone's activities. Hurt and Hamilton are among the few we see desperately trying to fight the system by keeping control of their thoughts and beliefs. While the atmosphere becomes a bit too stifling at times, the images are quite striking with their muted colors and dilapidated sets. In an interesting bit of casting, Richard Burton costars (in his final role) as a government agent who surreptitiously exposes Hurt to the ideas of resistance. Unlike many like-minded films, 1984 does not offer a flashy vision of the future, but then that aspect makes it feel all the more real. In an age when more and more of our everyday activities are being scrutinized, Big Brother may not be so far off after all. --Bryan Reesman
It was three years ago, on a dark evening. Easy to slip the patrols, I had gone into the proletarian areas. There was no one else on the street, and no telescreens. She said, "Two dollars.", so I went with her. She had a young face, painted very thick. Really, t'was the paint that appealed to me: white like a mask, and bright red lips. No preliminaries. Standing there with the smell of dead insects and cheap perfume, I went and did it anyway.
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