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1984

Year: 1986
Production Co: Holiday Film Productions Ltd
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Director: Michael Anderson
Writer: Ralph Gilbert Bettison/George Orwell
Cast: Edmond O'Brien, Jan Sterling, Donald Pleasance

I'd seen the more recent British version of this film before this iteration, and even though it's fairly Americanised and befits the period, it still holds much of the sting of Orwell's tale, much like the much older version of Lord of the Flies holds all its power despite the trappings of the styles and technology of the day.

Winston Smith (O'Brien) is a member of the outer party and a devout worker where everyone can see him, but secretly he hates Big Brother, the telescreens that can see you seemingly everywhere, the mindless hatred and the constant war with foreign powers.

Smith struggles with the notion of truth as he spends his days rewriting newspaper articles and speeches so as to alter history for The Party. But in secret at night he keeps a diary, a strictly forbidden practice, and fantasies about the winsome blonde woman he keeps seeing in the halls of the Ministry (Sterling). When Julia slips Winston a note telling him she loves him, he gets the chance to rebel further, by falling in love.

If it hadn't been Orwell's idea in the first place this might have slipped into 50s Hollywood melodrama (you can see the poster now – 'They united against oppression... with love'), and it's in the interaction of the leads as they pursue their clandestine and illegal relationship that Hollywood has held sway – all pretty dresses, soft focus and tasteful cutaways when things rise above PG levels.

If you don't know how it all ends up my advice would be to read the novel, still the definite version not just because it's the original but because Orwell was able to introduce and expand on every idea on his mind, then Nineteen Eighty-Four, then this film.

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