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One of the works that strike a chord when discussing dystopia is George Orwell’s 1984 book. In spite of the fact that the work appears to scrutinize a solitary idea framework in any case, as in the past books of the writer, it really portrays the issues in all frameworks as a rule. His 1984 book gives off an impression of being a scrutinize of communism, yet it is the encapsulation of a response to any structure that is really authoritarian. In fact, in the book, Elder sibling, Stalin or Hitler; Goldstein, Trotsky; the camp where the lawbreakers were sent, the inhumane imprisonment of the Nazis; the gathering’s perspective on the low class can likewise be viewed as the supervisors’ perspective of the labourers, yet in truth the book depicts, by and large, the insufficiencies in all frameworks.
To summarize the book briefly:
After years of nuclear wars in 1984, the world is ruled by 3 super-states. These states called Oceania, East Asia and Eurasia are constantly at war with each other.
Winston Smith works in the government editing of old documents in a super-state called Oceania. Society in Oceania is divided into three. Internal party, External party and proletarians. The inward party is the fundamental decision class. First, Big Brother. Big Brother doesn’t do anything stupid or wrong and whatever he says is true. Outer party individuals are authorities of the state. Smith is an outside party member of the department of truth. External party members are under constant control. Emotional behaviour such as extreme joy, sadness, sexuality is not welcome.
Proletarians are not seen as human beings and live in very bad conditions.
Oceania is governed by Ingsos (British socialism). The party claims that it brings peace and tranquillity to the world. As indicated by the party, even the plane was found by the party.
In the world described in the book, thought is the greatest crime. Big Brother is always right. If the party wants 2 + 2 = 5 is a correct equation. In this world, party interests come first. Before the party, the world is a worse place. One of the most important slogans of the party is war peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is a force.
The language called the New Discourse (think twice) is a language produced by the party. This will be the only language used in 2050. With this language, there will be no opposition to the party. Words like freedom will lose their meaning. There will not be synonyms and antonyms in this language. The number of words will be limited.
Winston Smith is a 40-year-old outside party member. It has long been the crime of thought, the biggest crime. He questions his life, the world and Big Brother. He wonders how the world used to be. One day, he meets a girl like himself who stands against the order. He had a forbidden relationship with this girl, Julia (Orwell 172). Both hide from the party and continue their relationship. In the meantime, Winston tries to find the truth with what he wrote in his diary. He discusses these issues with Charrington, a salesman in the proletarian region.
One day they meet with O’Brien, a member of the internal party, to join the counter-revolutionary organization ’Brotherhood’. O’Brien gives them the book of Goldstein (Orwell 197). The book sets out the facts about the great brother and British socialism.
However, one day they secretly read the book, they are caught by the thought police. They know O’Brien is in charge of the thought police. Winston is questioned by the party. He was then tortured under the name of “healing’’ to believe the great brother (Orwell 255). Winston suffered from crises between himself and his beliefs during the tortures and was tortured by obedience and even love for the great brother. Winston and Julia are released to wait for the day they are killed.
As we can understand from the summary and the plot, the book covers important current themes.
The book was written by Michael Radford, who had appeared in several television projects and had several documentaries, and the film was published in 1984. It is not known whether the director is inexperienced or if he wants the director to be like this, but the film has many drawbacks.
First of all, the starting points of the film and the book are different. While the characters are in a kind of conference, Winston Smith goes first to the Victory Houses. This is a mistake that should not be overlooked.
One of the biggest drawbacks of the film is that the film did not adequately convey the effects of the events on the people. As a result, there is a print, but it is not as deeply described in the book. Moreover, the characters in the book, which we later understood to be bad, are quickly understood in the film. In the film, the party members call each other ‘’brother’’, but they call each other ‘’comrade’’ in the book. This is one of the big cons. The meaning that is hidden under the addressing form is lost in the film.
In the book, the telescreen is the biggest factor in front of personal freedoms. The tension created by the feeling that you are watched every second and the uneasiness it brings with it is explained in the film very superficially. While Radford was able to easily build the tension he was obliged to create over that object, he did not take this chance well. In the same way, the arrangement of past archives in the system and the fragmentation of parallel memory perception could be more clearly reflected. In the film, we see Smith making changes to newspaper pages, but it is not clear what exactly these changes are and what they serve (1984. Michael Radford. Live Home Video, 1984. Movie 06.23).
When it comes to the knowledge that Oceania, which is at war with Eurasia, is actually at war with East Asia, the fact that people accept it without any surprise and accept that they have been at war with East Asia for years is a very good indication of the society’s reaction to the events.
Julia’s entry into Winston Smith’s life is the key to the main character. The two represent different sides of disobedience to the system. While Smith feels discomfort from the inside and dreams of lasting change, Julia draws a harmonious portrait against the outside, moves freely inside and seeks more temporary freedoms. Although they do not have a huge potential for danger when they are on their own, they are naturally taken over by the system, which has long been aware of them when they are more likely to pose a whole when they come together.
One of the rare positive aspects of the film is the demonstration of Smith’s distance to the environment in which he lives. John Hurt’s successful performance allows him to make comfortable inferences about the character’s psychology. At the same time he was shouting to adapt to the atmosphere at the mass ceremonies, and at the same time he thought, ‘What am I doing here?’ and it was impressive (1984. Michael Radford. Live Home Video, 1984. Movie 03.42).
In the book, O’Brien, who is shown as the most important figure in the approach of the main character to the idea of rebellion, is unfortunately quite abstract in the film. The points frequently recalled in the book about his influence on Smith and the beginning of their relationship with him were not shown in the film, and the meaning they wanted to be created could not be achieved at the points they were shown. In the episode where he goes to Brien’s house and the idea of rebellion against Big Brother and his rule becomes clear, Smith goes to that house with Julia (Orwell 190). Michael Radford chose to send Smith to O’Brien’s house alone in that episode (1984. Michael Radford. Live Home Video, 1984. Movie 1.04.18). At such an important point, the choice of the director is unnecessary and unethical.
From a cinematographic point of view, when we consider the conditions of time, we can say that the work is not bad at all. The use of cold colours as colour preferences and the white light, in general, is very effective in conveying the coldness of the period and spaces. Radford’s desire to make an epic film by not paying much attention to indoors, playing big in outdoor shots and escaping exaggerated from time to time is very noticeable. The ruined and worn out condition of the streets and buildings was much more exaggerated than in the book.
One of the most important chapters of the film and one of the three main chapters of the book, the visualization of the wear on John Hurt was insufficient in his efforts to bring Smith back into harmony with society after his capture. In the book, dozens of weight loss, hair loss, no teeth in his mouth and wounds on his body is quite far from the description. It was a simpler projection than was intended to be created with insufficient makeup. The strategy which is designated ‘New Discourse” is never mentioned. While the book contains detailed information about the method, it is a great loss for the film.
In order to preserve the overall structure of the work, it is necessary to take the pieces from the story with the right choices and build the script from them. The preference of those to be shown in the adaptations is the personal opinion of the director or screenwriter, but it is not acceptable to show things that are not in the original work or to show them differently from what is happening. From the very beginning, Radford did not stick to the original. For a person who doesn’t read the book, the movie is full of gaps. Both events, phenomena, institutions and attitudes and characters were insufficient. Maybe because of Radford’s inexperience or the weight of the work. Still, he created a mediocre film that was far from the book’s fascination.
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