A Dystopian Facelift – 1984 (Blu-Ray Review)

1984 was a novel by George Orwell that screamed at us on the fears of a totalitarian government; with big brother watching you through telescreens and the highest crime to be thoughts of individuality and expression. Winston, a low ranking worker of the Party, decides to revolt by having a covert affair with another worker named Julia. They fall in love which in itself is a rebellious act and aim to join the Brotherhood – an elusive collective which works against The Party. Although despite their efforts, they’re captured, tortured and brainwashed in an unimaginable fashion.

The novel grew limbs and reignited the imagination of those familiar with the release of the film in 1984 directed by Michael Radford and brilliantly executed by John Hurt, the actor to play Winston.

To Orwell’s credit, he managed to use the English language to not only paint this picture in our minds but rattle our brains – one of the many reasons the novel is being used for educational purposes today. The film was prepared with the pressure of doing the book justice and with the direction of Radford and the dedication of his crew each word was given flesh and muscle.

The piece wasn’t intended to appear aesthetically mouth watering but instead like sand on your tongue – hard to swallow and a pain to get rid of. The world created in 1984 requires a lot of attention paid to both costume and production design and in this piece, it was, which only elevated the absurdity of this world. Credit goes to both the costume designer Emma Porteous (Aliens, 1986) and the production designer Allan Cameron (The Da Vinci Code, 2006) as their efforts and creativity helped make the pages of this piece appear believable.

The world seen by the viewer in this piece is grey and lacking vibrancy intentionally, although some shots deserve appreciation such as the moment with the workers staring at the large screen with the face of Big Brother on there, stern and staring right back at them, or the moment with Winston sat away from the surveying telescreen so he may sit and write in his hidden journal. A scene like these makes it clear that the aesthetic of the piece is in itself a character, living and breathing just like Winston. John Hurt gave all he could – especially in the last few scenes with O’Brien (Richard Burton) – and his performance made it appear as though Orwell wrote the novel with him in mind.

In celebration of the piece that’s still relevant today a premium collection is being released which includes a beautifully crisp Blu-Ray edition (a first for the UK), DVD edition, digital download along with four art prints from the film itself – flaunting its memorable product design.

This provides lovers of this memorable classic a collection worth keeping and enjoying in more than just the one format and picture. The Blu-Ray edition makes this nightmarish reality ever more real and with the heart clenching composition by Dominic Muldowney (Bloody Sunday, 2002) the piece succeeds in placing the viewer in the suffocating skin of Winston Smith up until it’s horrific end.

1984 will remain a piece worth revisiting and what better way to do so than with this premium collection that can sit shoulder to shoulder with the novel in which it all began. Although the piece could never take the place of the novel itself, Radford provided an admirable production of 1984 that gives all the lovers of this piece another platform for which to digest this tragic world.

Dir: Michael Radford

Scr: Michael Radford (script) & George Orwell (novel)

Cast: John Hurt, Suzanna Hamilton & Richard Burton

Prd: Marvin J. Rosenblum

DOP: Roger Deakins

Music: Dominic Muldowney

Country: UK

Runtime: 113 mins

The Exclusive Premium Collection of 1984 will be available on the 13th of August 2018