Film (1955). Holiday Film Productions. Directed by Michael Anderson. Written by William P Templeton, Ralph Bettinson, based on Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) by George Orwell. Cast includes Edmond O'Brien, Donald Pleasence, Michael Redgrave and Jan Sterling. 91 minutes. Black and white.
After the success of a 1954 BBC TV production of Nineteen Eighty-Four, scripted by Nigel Kneale and starring Peter Cushing (the second – live – performance won the biggest UK television audience since the Queen's coronation) it was inevitable that a film would follow. But, for all its technical limitations, the BBC adaptation was superior to the lifeless film, which starred a badly miscast O'Brien as Winston Smith; Anderson has a lame track record with sf (see Logan's Run). This version of the celebrated totalitarian nightmare focuses on the love affair between Smith and Julia, and leaves Orwell's grim Satire foggy and simplified. Two endings were shot, one for the USA and one for the UK. The former followed the book, with Winston and his lover successfully brainwashed and now devoted supporters of Big Brother; the UK version had them overcoming their conditioning, defiantly dying in a hail of bullets, and incidentally vitiating Orwell's theme.
For the 1984 remake, see Nineteen Eighty-Four. [JB/PN]
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