To make a movie like "1984" IN "1984", as Michael Radford did, is to make a quaint period piece by default. It's bleak, it's interesting, but Richard Burton as O'Brien died well before its release and the whole raison d'etre for the film (to scare us out of our wits at what COULD happen!) is missing.
In 1949, fears about the future had many people wondering if any of us would survive until 1984. Seven years later, in an edgy, Cold War-ridden world, Orwell's dark visions were still quite persuasive to 1950's audiences. A film noir atmosphere pervades the original film by Michael Anderson, enhanced by the casting of American noir icons like Edmond O'Brien as Winston Smith and Jan Sterling as Julia.
Smith's great fear of rats is successfully exploited in the creepy Orwellian universe presided over by Sir Michael Redgrave as O'Connor. Julia, too, is confronted with her greatest fear and each betrays the other and their mutual dreams of love. They know that Big Brother is always watching. And WE know there are always more rats in the dark, the better to give us nightmares, My Dears...No 1980's special effects can compete with our terrorised imaginations...Definitely worth a re-issue on video! Based on the 1949 novel by George Orwell.
© 2004 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 4/7/04
USA - 1956