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1984 (1984) starring John Hurt, Richard Burton
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1984 (1984) starring John Hurt, Richard Burton1984 (1984) starring John Hurt, Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton

This is the movie version of George Orwell’s classic novel “1984”.  It deals with a totalitarian society of the future in which no one can escape observation and detection. Well done version true to the book.

Review of 1984

buy-from-amazon In short, the 1984 version of 1984 is very faithful to the George Orwell novel, with excellent acting performances. John Hurt does an outstanding job as the protagonist of the novel. Another outstanding performance was given by Richard Burton, in his final film role. I don’t want to describe in detail what happens and ruin the film for people who haven’t seen it or read the novel.

will say that the film is very accurate to the novel.  Which makes it very depressing to watch.  1984 is set in a dystopian future, where the government controls every facet of the peoples’ lives. And it wants to control their thoughts as well. It’s not a happy film, nor does it end with even a sliver of hope. Even so, it’s a film that everyone should watch at least once. And read the book as well.

Editorial review of 1984 courtesy of

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

Movie quotes from 1984

O’Brien (Richard Burton): Power is tearing human minds apart and putting them back together in new shapes of your own choosing.

Winston Smith (John Hurt): Does Big Brother even exist?
O’Brien (Richard Burton): Of course he exists.
Winston Smith (John Hurt): No, I mean… does he exist like you or me?
O’Brien (Richard Burton): You do not exist.

O’Brien (Richard Burton): If you want a vision of the future, Winston, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.

Winston Smith (John Hurt): It’s not so much staying alive, it’s staying human that’s important. What counts is that we don’t betray each other.
Julia (Suzanna Hamilton): If you mean confessing, we’re bound to do that. Everybody does. You can’t help it.
Winston Smith (John Hurt): I don’t mean confessing. Confessing isn’t betrayal. I mean feelings. If they can make me change my feelings. If they can stop me from loving you, that would be real betrayal.
Julia (Suzanna Hamilton): They can’t do that. It’s the one thing they can’t do. They can torture you, make you say anything. But they can’t make you believe it. They can’t get inside you. They can’t get to your heart.

Winston Smith (John Hurt): [from his diary] Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two equals four. If that is granted all else will follow.

Winston Smith (John Hurt): [voice-over] Thoughtcrime is death. Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death. I have committed even before setting pen to paper the essential crime that contains all others unto itself.

[Charrington and Winston look at an old sketch of a church]
Charrington (Cyril Cusack): Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clements…
Winston Smith (John Hurt): What was that?
Charrington (Cyril Cusack): Something old…

Big Brother is watching you

Winston Smith (John Hurt): [observing the Prole woman from their hideaway] The future is hers… we are the dead…
Julia (Suzanna Hamilton): We are the dead…
Big Brother: [voice] YOU ARE THE DEAD!
[Winston and Julia look around the room, startled]
Big Brother: [voice] Remain EXACTLY where you are! Make NO move until you are ordered!
[a painting falls from wall, revealing a telescreen]
Julia (Suzanna Hamilton): Now they can see us…
Big Brother: [voice-over from the still image on the telescreen] NOW WE CAN SEE YOU! Clasp your hands behind your heads! Stand out in the middle of the room! Stand back to back. Do NOT touch one another!
Winston Smith (John Hurt): [Winston and Julia immediately comply, and then hear the sound of helicopters approaching] The house is surrounded…
Big Brother: [voice] THE HOUSE IS SURROUNDED!
Julia (Suzanna Hamilton): [to Winston] I suppose we may as well say goodbye…
Big Brother: [voice] YOU MAY AS WELL SAY GOODBYE! While we’re on the subject, here comes a candle to light you to bed, here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
[the Thought Police soldiers arrive]

O’Brien (Richard Burton): What are your feelings towards Big Brother?
Winston Smith (John Hurt): I hate him.
O’Brien (Richard Burton): You must love him. It is not enough to obey him. You must love him.

O’Brien (Richard Burton): You once asked me, Winston, what was in room 101. I think you know. Everyone does. The thing that is in room 101… is the worst thing in the world.

Cast of characters

  • John Hurt (Alien, The Elephant Man) … Winston Smith
  • Richard Burton (Beckett) … O’Brien
  • Suzanna Hamilton (Out of Africa) … Julia
  • Cyril Cusack … Charrington
  • Gregor Fisher … Parsons
  • James Walker … Syme
  • Andrew Wilde … Tillotson
  • David Trevena … Tillotson’s Friend
  • David Cann … Martin
  • Anthony Benson … Jones
  • Peter Frye … Rutherford

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