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Product Description

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

Customer Reviews:

  • Just as horrific and grubby as the novel
    I have to admit that I was one of the few people who saw this film without having first read the book. (Most British students get this opportunity at secondary school.) The lack of a feel-good ending, coupled with all the controversy over the Eurythmic's soundtrack vs. the original orchestral score, made it a less than satisfying experience.

    Since then, I have read the book a couple of times, and it is now one of my all-time favourite novels. Orwell invents an entire political system which is utterly believable in every detail. However, in the novel, the 'proles' clearly have a better time of it than party members; despite official neglect, they are allowed to have a much more natural life-style ... and death. The film virtually ignores the proles entirely.

    In the novel, Winston has many dark subconscious urges -- e.g. wanting to smash the skull of the dark-haired girl, and thinking about pushing his wife off the cliff. He discovers memory fragments in his subconscious, of a time before IngSoc. In the film, these elements aren't really there. John Hurt portrays a rather agening but innocent 39-year-old, without any dark thoughts, or any leg ulcers or varicose veins. Instead we get a curious recurring dream where he is escorted by Richard Burton's O'Brien along a tunnel leading to a green landscape.

    The surprising aspect is how well the Eurythmic's soundtrack stands up after 20 years. It's a muted, ambient mix that anticipates an era of treated pop music by nearly ten years.

    Fortunately most societies have turned away from the totalitarian state that Orwell envisaged. The uniformity and utter obedience required, coupled with the 7x24 monitoring of our every move, now seems closer to the existence many of us experience in large institutions and corporations.
    ...more info
  • Bleak, Ominous...and completely Faithful
    This is literary adaption at its best: instead of shooting for a straight retelling of a great novel, this film version tries to capture the novel's essence.
    Stark, bleak, unflinching, "1984" also adds grime and dinginess to this totally corrupt and harrowing world of the future. I even found some of the shots quite beautiful--which is weird because of the dark and corrosive feel of the scenes.

    I thought it was a cool idea for the filmmakers to produce a version of NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR in the year 1984. Thankfully, America was riding the crest of the Reagan Revolution with Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" playing on the radios (for a few older hippies, that WAS "1984" to them!), so I think the film has found its audience in the years since, and rightly so.

    Sadly, this was Richard Burton's final film. And he looked the part perfectly: older, broken, hopeless.
    I believe he even says while torturing John Hurt into total submission, "They got to me a long time ago."...more info
  • How freakin' DARE they??
    I've just read the reviews detailing how the woefully misguided director ruined an awesome adaptation of Orwell's classic novel by removing the Eurythmics soundtrack as well as making totally inappropriate stylistic changes to the look of the film. (A brightly lit 1984? How many ways can one say "bad idea"??) I refuse to buy this DVD and insist that the production company release a DVD that remains true to the VHS version.
    ...more info
  • 1984 as an anti-American work
    I have read the novel more than four times and was eager to watch the movie. I guess that the movie was faithful to the original work of Orwell. there is no doubt that Orwell wrote the book to attack the totalitarian governments. During his lifetime Orwell saw such governments in USSR and aimed at criticizing the ploicies of totalitarian states. 1984 was a book to be pointed at if you liked to tell people to read something that highlights the individual as a helpless creature facing the tyranny of the state. But after USSR dissolved and USA became the only power in the world one can't help thinking about Lord Acton's words "power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absoluetly." The systematic process of brainwashing that is depicted in Orwell's 1984 is paralleled by the USA today:information distorted; American ideology justified (wars in the name of Christ and human rights); media is herded and is herding the masses..etc. The irony is that Orwell's 1984 was once used by capitalists and Americans to attack USSR and communism. Now, unfortunately, 1984 is a work that backfired the so called American civilized values. ...more info
  • Orwell's vision of hell
    This version of Orwell's world captures all that made the book so memorable. The translation from the book's verbal form to the movie's visual one succeeds at every level.

    The city is still deep in the rubble of some past war. Its population is ant-like, dark uniform figures scurrying across a landscape too big for them, shaped by totalitarian forces that are also too big for them. Everywhere, every day, voices blare. Every place, even homes are subject to video surveillance. Everywhere, except the the slums of the lower classes. Those are the places for prostitution, grey-market exchanges, and guilty trysts.

    Winston, the central character, is willingly seduced by Julia. In a world trying to stamp out the family and even the body's innate pleasures, this is the worst of crimes. No wonder, when Julia first strips off her uniform coverall, that she seems to undress as an act of defiance, even aggression. They are drawn to each other, and try to figure out what affection means. It is incredibly sad - Julia, in an antique print dress, with inept lipstick and makeup, trying to reconstruct what romance might have been.

    The couple is captured. There is no trial, no interrogation. There is no execution - the crime of being human is too severe to punish with mere death. Instead, Winston's mind is crushed under torture, and he is remade as a loyal citizen.

    The fact that this movie was released in the acutal year 1984 is certainly no accident. It's a bleak vision, and was all too believable when Orwell first wrote it. It's still believable today, even though the literal 1984 has come and gone.

    //wiredweird...more info
  • Great Movie
    After reading the book, I could hardly wait to see the movie and I was not disappointed. The movie is a direct adaptation of the book. Nonetheless, I would suggest reading the book before watching this movie as it will give you better insight into certain things (i.e. Newspeak, Big Brother, Thought Police/Crime). Definately a must buy!!...more info
  • A Horrible Adaptation of a Classic Novel
    In many respects, this adaptation of George Orwell's "1984" should stand out as an example of how you don't adapt a novel for the big screen. No film version can ever match the depth and detail of the original novel upon which it is based, but when a film is done this badly it demands an answer the obvious question, "What was the director thinking?"

    To be fair, I like director Michael Radford's treatment of the external world of London as bleak and almost lifeless, although I think that the neighborhoods of the proletariat should have been much darker and more foreboding. Their environment seemed poor, but didn't evoke the same emotions as Orwell's well-written descriptions of dark alleys and the myriad of pubs that are filled with the down-trodden masses of non-party members. And with that same thought in mind we begin to see the first of many departures from the novel - aside from the antique shop and Winston's prostitute encounter there are no portrayals of any of the other scenes that make up more of the surrounding story in the proletariat world.

    I realize that a director only has so much time to work with when creating a movie, but this director left out large chunks of the story in order to make it fit the time frame, and I feel sorry for anyone that hasn't read the book because so much of the movie won't mean anything. This movie could almost represent a condensed version of the original, except that it shows scenes out of order, it doesn't explain why so much of the story is actually occurring, and it changes a great deal of the detail in ways that are unforgivable. Here are just a few examples: In the novel Winston worked for Minitrue (Ministry of Truth), although in the film it mentions Winston working for Minirec (Ministry of Records). In the novel Winston does not exclaim that he hates Julia before discovering that she secretly loves him. In the film, Winston's vision of Julia undressing in a field occurs just before their first romantic encounter, not some weeks earlier in a dream as in the novel. I could go on and on, but there are a great number of these scenes that are not simply errors or a failure of attention to detail, they are the director's deliberate attempts to place his stamp on someone else's work. I believe in artistic expression, but if you want to make your own mark - create your own story; don't create a hatchet-job of someone else's work.

    One of my largest complaints is the deliberate omission of a great detail of information surrounding the Socialism and Communism themes that are so prevalent in the novel; Ingsoc is never explained as a newspeak amalgamation of English Socialism, everyone is called brother or sister instead of comrade, and the recurring treatment of society's failed attempts to obtain even the most basic of necessities of life due to the government's ineptitude at production are missing. What's more infuriating is the portrayal of Winston's day-to-day activities at Minitrue/Minirec - you're vaguely aware that he is doing SOMETHING, but the film version manages to omit what that actually is. Having read the book we know that he was altering the past, but the film doesn't convey that. In fact, the film conveys very little - if you have read the book then the film simply gives you fleeting images to go along with the story line that you already know, but in most respects the film's failure to align with the novel begins to interfere with what you remember about the story.

    Much like "Animal Farm", which is George Orwell's other treatment of communism, "1984" is supposed to be a sharp arrow piercing through the utopian vision of a communism by portraying a world where a corrupt government cannot live up to its promises, but this adaptation completely misses the target. At the time this movie was created the Cold War was still raging, and I can only surmise that the director toned down the communist-themed overtones in order to appease the Soviet Union; if that's the case - that's a really weak argument.

    I truly feel sorry for someone that sees this film and has never read the book. After watching this movie I got the feeling that the director, Michael Radford, was trying to create a visual masterpiece like Stanley Kubrick did with "2001: A Space Odyssey", but unfortunately Michael Radford is NOT Stanley Kubrick, and as a result he created a film that is little more than an insult to the original novel, and my only take-away from this film is the feeling that I have lost two hours of my life....more info
  • Faithful to the Classic: Disturbing Portrayel of Future
    This adaptation of George Orwell's 1984 is relatively faithful to the novel, and creates the same type of pessimistic and frightening view of the future. Winston Smith, who is played aptly by John Hurt, works in the Ministry of Truth editing the past and present by eliminating and retracting facts from news articles. The citizens of Oceania live in constant surveillance under the authority of Big Brother. The ideals of Big Brother shun individualism and free thought; uniformity and totalitarianism rule. Winston feels a need to keep a part of his individualism, so he secretly does acts that would violate the laws of Big Brother. For instance, he secretly goes into a store and buys a journal so he can record his thoughts despite his thought that he might get caught by the Thought Police. He eventually meets and has a dangerous affair with a woman named Julia, who also rejects the notions of Big Brother. Together they try to maintain independence while living in this totalitarian society. Eventually Winston has a meeting with O'Brien, one of the men who also works in the Ministry of Truth. However, Winston does not know everything about O'Brien, and this will eventually lead to his downfall.

    Overall, this movie brings to life the image of a negative future that Orwell was trying to depict in his work. The city is not the rosy picture that we often see for the future; it is bleak, filled with a depressing atmosphere and people who are under the constant strain of "fitting into" the roles of citizens. John Hurt does a commendable job of bringing Winston's character to life, especially the last part of the film where his "transformation" of character is complete. Overall, this film illustrates how a society can become detrimental and horrifying when we are not allowed free thought and will.
    ...more info
  • Incisive and haunting nightmare!
    In a future not so far there will be the Big Brother, the private eye of each one of us , controlling every little movement.

    The liberties will be restricted. The free will be just an illusion. A totalitarian vision will build the basis for a new world. The triumph of the silent majority will impose and the thinking minorities will be sent to prison. The wise words of Henrik Ibsen will be an obsesive statement in your mind: the majority never owns the reason.

    In middle of this horror atmosphere , there will be an outlaw who will defy the Status Quo.

    Richard Burton I his last appearance shares honors with John Hurt in a tour de force dark and gloomy film.

    Dazzling direction of Michael Radford!
    ...more info
  • Still... as depressing as the book. ie. PERFECT
    This movie was exceptionally well done and did a great job of giving the characters and audience a false sense of security that was afforded the thought criminals. The brainwashing of members of society to betray the misguided trust of thought criminals and report them to "the party" was well done in this adaptation.

    I particularly admired (but not liked) the scene where the children are singing praises of Big Brother and the party while the adults (parents) seem to look at them with a great deal of apprehension really sets the scene. It tells the audience two things: The first is that if the children are brainwashed into believing whatever the party tells them then they will report anyone who deviates from the party's doctrines. The second thing it tells us is that while the "resistance's" power resides in the proles the party's power resides in the youth who will inherit the future... A very bleak picture overall and a perfect adaptation of Orwell's classic book....more info
  • Amazon Service/Seller Integrity
    I odered this product on October 18, 2008 and I have still not received it. I contacted Amazon twice but they kept referring me to the seller. I emailed the seller twice but I never received a reply. It seems that Amazon is pretty good at serving the seller because they made sure that the seller got my money right away. However, I was extremely disappointed with Amazon's inability or refusal to help me get what I paid for. So, I've given up in this matter and I'll charge the money I've lost to experience and I'll never do business with Amazon or the seller again....more info
  • a surreal "could have been" alternate reality
    Intelligent movie, haunting, beautiful in its surreal "rundown world" way, sapped of happiness or freedom or natural human life. It's perfect. The book is great, but the images you see in the movie are simply artistic. It really does take you to a different time and place, an alternate reality that COULD have happened. I have this DVD in my collection, and I love it when I'm in the mood, but it DOES get depressing a tad much near the end. But still, a movie relies on characterization and story, as does this one. The romantic elements, the true spark of life and interest to all of us, is what keeps this movie from being a total dour mood piece. You so totally want this man and woman to beat the odds and find a way to stay together. Mesmerizing....more info
  • Big brother is watching
    Excellent movie, Richard Burton and John Hurt delever top notch
    performances, even though this movie is titled 1984, it is timeless, the sets are dark and moody, very reminisent of luftwaffa attacks in the WWII films that you see, In a day and
    age where our civil rights are being disolved in the name of homeland security, this film hits more close to home than ever....more info
    Hey guys! Are all of you peeved with the MGM North American DVD of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" which eliminates the Eurythmics contributions to the soundtrack in favor of the Dominic Muldowney-only score??

    Well, I have good news for you. The British DVD from MGM features the Eurythmics/Muldowney score as you fondly remember it! In my opinion, the slip cover art and menu design on the British MGM DVD is also far superior to MGM's North American release.

    The only catch, however, is that the British DVD release is of course in Region 2 PAL format, so you will require a DVD player which supports that particular region-coding and PAL format (I bought a multi-region DVD player from an online vendor over a year ago for under $100 and it works like a charm!).

    The differences between the North American and British MGM DVD releases of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" are as follows:

    * The North American MGM DVD is widescreen with an anamorphically enhanced 1.85: 1 aspect ratio; the color is brighter and more saturated.

    * The British MGM DVD is also widescreen with an anamorphically enhanced 1.85: 1 aspect ratio; the color is desaturated to give the movie a decidedly gloomier tone.

    * The North American MGM DVD features 20 chapter stops and runs 110 minutes in total.

    * The British MGM DVD features 16 chapter stops and runs 106 minutes in total (I did not notice any cuts or scenes missing from the movie itself, perhaps the shorter length on this DVD is simply due to fewer credits tacked on at the beginning and the end).

    * The North American MGM DVD has only one audio track: original English-language with the Muldowney-only soundtrack in MONO.

    * The British MGM DVD includes an option of FOUR different spoken-language audio tracks to choose from: the Eurythmics/Muldowney soundtrack is featured on the original English-language and French-language audio tracks; it uses the Muldowney-only soundtrack for the German-language and Spanish-language audio tracks. All audio tracks on this DVD are MONO.

    * The North American MGM DVD includes optional English, French and Spanish subtitles.

    * The British MGM DVD includes optional English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Portuguese, and Turkish subtitles.

    * The theatrical trailer on the North American MGM DVD is more subdued and features the soporific Muldowney score with a British announcer advertising the movie.

    * The theatrical trailer on the British MGM DVD is flashier with the Eurythmics song "Sexcrime" blaring throughout and features an American announcer advertising the movie as "coming to a theater near you".

    You can purchase the British MGM DVD from www.amazon.co.uk or any other online vendor for a reasonable price. Or you can check out the product website at www.mgmuk.com ...more info
  • The Dead Who Have Yet To Be Born
    Or even better still, also read the book by George Orwell, an inspiring piece of worldly paranoia, that is truth, quoted well into the twenty first century as the future, and it is, not because mankind doesn't think it will ever go this way, but because we know full well we are, but somehow are allowing it to happen everyday. It is decentralization of power from the human being, in all aspects of one's life, to a higher power, a bigger cause, communism called the great Lucifer because all was given to the collective body and not to God, now God is the great Lucifer because we give ourselves to the collective body of something that we can not prove, so Science is the great Lucifer, producing weapons to kill the world a million times over, toxins to poison us a million times over, are all forms of giving to a collective body the nature of death? Is it the giving to a collective body that robs the soul of its power? Is it giving oneself wholly and utterly to something other than one's own self the conduit of decent into the investment of despair. 1984 sees men and women working their themselves to skin and bone to achieve a greater good that never emerges, the ultimate failings masked by a strict authoritative regime, BIG BROTHER, the power all seeing and ever controlling, rewriting history, editing the world around them, at war with this nation one minute and switching to another the next, neighbours up and vanish and protagonists invest in each other for but a fleeting glimpse of love only to be captured by the THOUGHT POLICE for engaging in illegal activity, men at the top of this society using torture and mind control to enforce a pathology of unquestionable and undeniable supremacy of all the power to the BIG BROTHER system, and that this is the system and that is why they are alive at all, at which point we question if it is worth living at all to which Orwell delivers a resounding, no, of course it is not worth living this life, why bother at all, and that this is a piece of work that must be understood by everyone and anyone who can read and is certainly mandatory reading for anyone in least bit interested in politics or political science.

    Unfortunately however we tend to vote in military commanders, lawyers and extreme capitalists into government and then ask why it is all going down hill.

    The problem is there is no terminology in the English language to describe the act of one human being killing their unborn future children by process of setting up a bad management system with a legal body incorporated into that system before they die. This prison kills, yet it is justified. 1984 is maybe that word, filicide being the closest English equivalent....more info
  • Great Buy
    This product came in very good condition and was just in time for a birthday present. Thank you!...more info
  • 1984 "1984"
    Fairly good movie (1984 made in "1984"), better then the 1956 version of 1984 but still not worth the $40 + price tag!...more info
  • Being A Minority Of One Does Not Make You Mad
    1984 is simply one of the best filmed adaptions of any novel. This particular version filmed in 1984 works so well on so many levels that one is led from one scene to another in a manner that leaves one breathless even for those familiar with the book by George Orwell. Let me begin with a rarely mentioned level of criticism--the quality of the film itself. Though shot in color, director Michael Radford was careful to mute the colors such that what the audience sees seems more black and white, thus intensifying the crushingly grim reality of life in Oceania. London itself is presented as a city in disrepair, with cracked paint and corrosive rust ubiquitous. And in the midst of this urban miasma is the protagonist Winston Smith (John Hurt), one who is Everyman for the 1980s. There is absolutely nothing special about him. Even his last name reinforces his anonymity, though his first name implies a reaching out for that which is just beyond reach. Smith works as a history re-writer, a job that well enables him to see up close one of the Party's most sacred rules: "Those who control the Present control the Past. Those who control the Past control the Future." He knows by rote these and similar rules, but to him they are verbal effluvium, phrases that do not touch his essence. Everyone else in Oceania is similarly verbally constructed.

    Into his life enters Julia (Suzanna Hamilton), a sex-obsessed female who instinctively recognizes the nihilistic emptiness of English Socialism (Ingsoc). She seduces him, knowing all the while that in their common agreement that "They are the Dead," and must suffer the inevitable fate of exposure by the Thought Police. O'Brien, supremely played by Richard Burton in his last role, seduces Winston psychologically, though in the book he confronts both. In the film, he uses his softly modulated voice to seem the very pinnacle of reason, never more reasonable than in the torture scenes when he positions himself as Winston's pseudo-father figure who wants only to return Winston to a politically correct right reason.

    1984 in both book and film considers a host of issues that resonate as well today as back in the 1940s when first it hit print: what is an individual, how can we trust, what is common sense, and ultimately what is it that Winston refers to in Room 101 as that evanescent Spirit of Man that will triumph over brute dictatorship? When Orwell has O'Brien intone that man is infinitely malleable, he wanted O'Brien to suggest that man's spirit can be shaped and reshaped in any manner the interrogator wishes. But on some deep and buried level in Winston, Orwell also implies that this malleability need not be permanent. If Winston and Julia could sin before their conversion, then it is only a matter of time before they relearn that their inner natures are truly malleable and that they can "snap back" with a sheer act of will. The closing scene where Julia suggests that they must meet again is an ironic commentary on their ultimate ability to do just that no matter what viciousness O'Brien heaped on both of them. 1984 is a stark yet unforgettable punctuation that the Spirit of Man will live on after all. ...more info
  • An Underrated Masterpiece
    I saw this film when it first came out in 1984 and was very impressed with it. It is probably the best film adaptation of a novel, ever. It captures all of the gloom, claustrophobia, and paranoia of Orwell's world perfectly. Each scene seems to jump right off the pages of the book. The casting was particularly good: John Hurt, Richard Burton, and Suzanna Hamilton each fit their roles like a glove. In fact, I recall reading the book for the first time in the early 1970's and imagining Richard Burton in the role of O'Brien: the role that he later played.
    Having said this, I purchased the DVD version with some trepidation, as many of the Amazon.com reviews I had read complained about the substitution of a classical score for the original Eurythmics score, at the request of the director, Michael Radford. Having now seen both versions, I can say that I liked the Eurythmics score a little better. It created an edgy, surreal atmosphere which fit the story well, as everything in this world which Orwell created is a lie. However, the difference is minor: both scores are rather muted and subdued. Don't let the score substitution stop you from buying the DVD. I have always believed that this film has been underrated by critics and filmgoers alike. The principal criticism is that the film (especially the second half) is very bleak and depressing. As Orwell's story is about the dehumanization of individuals living under a Totalitarian Communist regime, I don't see how it could be anything but bleak! I applaud Michael Radford for staying true to Orwell's vision, and creating this great film. Imagine if 1984 were remade by Hollywood, today. Winston Smith would be played by Brad Pitt or perhaps Denzel Washington. Julia would be played by (who else?) Julia Roberts (No nudity: this would violate the actors contracts, earn an NC-17 rating, and offend the largely American audience). While in the Ministry of Love, Winston and Julia would wrestle automatic weapons away from their guards, and, after mowing down legions of stormtrooper-types would blow up the Ministry of Love and escape! Well...you get my point.

    ...more info
  • It was okay
    It *is* wise to read the book before watching the movie as the film did not describe Newspeak, thoughtcrime, or the politics of the continuing war with Eastasia/Eurasia. As a previous reviewer pointed out, this is going to lead to big gaps for someone who doesn't have a clue as to what the characters are referring to in the movie.

    The film did a so-so job of bringing to life the picture of the totalitarian world of Oceania and of Winston Smith's love affair and his thoughtcrimes of actually remembering bits and pieces of his childhood and trying to find who *he* was and not who Big Brother wanted him to be.

    In Richard Burton's last film, he played a wicked O'Brien but you could feel the lack of chemistry between him and John Hurt. This was especially evident during Smith's "reeducation" in the Ministry of Love of the ways of Big Brother and who Oceania was at war with (which kept changing every 5 seconds).

    The book is way better than the movie....more info