1984 (1984) The horror of George Orwell’s 1984 is not lost in any mode of presentation. There have been many radio adaptations, and to date, two versions each for both film and television. The film reviewed here does have the distinction of being made in the year of the book’s title and will no doubt go down as the definitive adaptation, that is unless you look at the real life goings-on right now in the year 2020 and the documentaries that will surely emerge.What I can say about 1984 can be applied to any of the adaptations. One may express notions of inversion and programmed blindness more clearly; another may better highlight the nature of indoctrination and how our youth can rabidly cling to it; or the subtle differences in which the oppressed characters interact. There are these slight differences in presentation, but all of these variables are about illustrating ease of conformity or the fear of being labeled or discovered as a nonconformist.The grimy, mind-controlled dystopia of Orwell’s 1984 perfectly illustrates the inversion of the Upside Down world in which we currently reside. If, as rumoured, 1984 was a blueprint of the socialist totalitarian Fabian Society’s plans for the future that disillusioned member George Orwell shared with the world in the form of his remarkable book, then this really is the ultimate in Predictive Fiction.
But remember this, anyone reading the book or watching one of the film adaptations shouldn’t get too wrapped up in all of the parallels between ‘fiction’ and our current reality. It’s become obvious, we see them, we know they’re there, but what might be more easily overlooked and what I believe to be the ultimate goal to a totalitarian regime is the redefining of LOVE.
In 1984, we learn that the Ministry of Love is a place of torture and abuse. We also know that any expression of affection is dealt with severely. The ‘Anti-Sex League’ reminds us that physical unions, family and relationships work against freedom and Big Brother. They are but distractions from our roles as servants to the ever present BB. And after complete indoctrination, correction and the cleansing of a citizen’s own thoughts, he shows his understanding by proclaiming, “I LOVE Big Brother.”
If the system is created to mold and indoctrinate people to mindlessly conform and to experience their misery the same as they would experience good fortune, Winston’s neighbor Parsons embodies the result of this programming to perfection. He is ‘proud’ of his snitch daughter for reporting him to the Thought Police, enjoys the business imposed on him by the Party and in another modern parallel, gazes dully at a cube on his fork and says, “Looks like meat, tastes like meat, but it isn’t meat at all. Doubleplusgood, this.” Parsons is the epitome of the ideal Oceania citizen, yet the system still finds him doubleplusungood. He demonstrates that even today, those who live by and enforce unnecessary rules and regulations are the greatest victims, for they never possessed nor knew freedom to begin with.
Orwell warns us and prepares us for a future where there is no place for love as we know it. The fears brought on by the marketing of the coronavirus has given support to distancing and the acceptance of living with the rest of the world ‘virtually’ instead of physically. Sadly, and horrifically, we see how many have absorbed many beliefs of inversion, hating in the name of ‘love’, censoring in the name of ‘freedom’, and choosing ignorance in the name of ‘strength’. We’ve extended Orwell’s 3-Minute Hate to run right around the clock and into the streets. But in our 1984, the one we’ve been in since about 2016-17, there is also a real resistance. We will continue to fight for truth and we will continue to love. Winston puts it this way, “It’s not so much staying alive, it’s staying human that’s important.”
This review first appeared in the print version of Victims of Cinema. The first 50 reviews can be obtained HERE.