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1984 Film--Novel Comparison
Transcript of 1984 Film--Novel Comparison
Presentation by Melissa Zhu
Thanks for watching
Written by George Orwell
Directed by Michael Radford
Il Postino: The Postman
The Merchant of Venice
Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950)
Inspired by dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin
in 1945, and
Written as a warning for the future in 35 years
Explores the ideas of human nature, power and political corruption
(1956) directed by Michael Anderson
(1984) directed by Michael Radford
V for Vendetta
episode "The God Complex" (2011)
"1984" Apple Macintosh commercial in 1984 by Ridley Scott
Starring: John Hurt (Winston Smith), Suzanne Hamilton (Julia), and Richard Burton (O'Brien)
Notable Achievements: 5 awards, 2 nominations
IMDb Rating: 7.2
Although both the film, directed by Michael Radford, and the novel, written by George Orwell, successfully warns of the terrifying extent of a totalitarian rule, the novel better portrays the fear in which dictatorial power is capable of exceeding the moral need for human rights and dignity by psychological control, physical torture, and the manipulation of history and language.
Writing Technique: Written in third person
Includes more detail than the film
Can develop other characters, setting, plot, etc.
Writing Technique: Narrates through the thoughts of protagonist, Winston Smith
Better understanding of character personality, motive and development
Allows the author to appeal to the reader (evoking feelings of disappointment and appalment when the reader sees that such a solemn promise could be broken down so easily)
Misses the point of Orwell's novel (a world of absolute terror)
Lack of fear in Parsons’ face
In the end, he voluntarily walked out instead of being dragged as portrayed in the novel
Character: Director took out minor characters (portrayed the panicked prisoner through Parsons)
Novel comparison: The horror of the idea of Room 101 definitely wasn't reflected as Orwell intended
Filming Techniques: Eye-level
Show that Winston and Parsons are equal and that they're both stuck in the room, waiting for the same fate
Film Comparison: George Orwell's novel does a better job at portraying the manipulation of the past
Writing Techniques: Symbols of Winston's hope
Rhyme of Oranges and Lemons
Big Prole lady hanging up clothes
Photographic evidence of the existence of the three men(Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford)
Winston seems full of curiosity and intense yearning for the past
Has hope for a rebellion and a better future
English = “Oldspeak”
Extremely simplified version of English = “Newspeak”
It was designed to make “thoughtcrime” or any kind of expression of individualism impossible
The text has also been organized to include an Appendix to thoroughly explain the concept of "Newspeak"
The words “thoughtcrime” and “doublethink” are only explained in the novel
Without knowing what newspeak is, it is impossible to fully understand the setting and circumstances of this totalitarian reign
Without reading the book, audience members will also lack understanding in how language affects a society and can be used as a form of brainwash and control.
George Orwell's novel inspired...
One of the biggest themes in the novel is the idea of one's individuality and expression through thoughts, and as a movie, it is difficult to portray this style of storytelling that Orwell uses, therefore already establishing a difference in the story's narration.
Film Techniques: Lack of character thoughts (portrayed occasionally with voice-overs)
Themes: Left out important themes (fear, torture, control and their effects on the human mind)
Characters: Prevented thorough understanding of characters (Winston's thoughts of Julia before he betrayed her)
Plot: Couldn't develop as many details of the plot (not as many details as the novel)
Film Techniques: Close up of Winston's face, screeching music in the background
Shows Winston's immense fear of rats
Brings out Winston's desperation
Comparison to novel: Disappointing climax
“‘Neither of us will even know whether the other is alive or dead. We shall be utterly without power of any kind. The one thing that matters is that we shouldn’t betray one another’… ‘It’s the one thing they can’t do. They can make you say anything—ANYTHING—but they can’t make you believe it. They can’t get inside you.’ … ‘If you can FEEL that staying human is worth while, even when it can’t have any result whatever, you’ve beaten them.’” (Orwell 173-174)
"The mask was closing on his face. The wire brushed his cheek. And then—no, it was not relief, only hope, a tiny fragment of hope. Too late, perhaps too late. But he had suddenly understood that in the whole world there was just ONE person to whom he could transfer his punishment—ONE body that he could thrust between himself and the rats. And he was shouting frantically, over and over.
‘Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!’" (Orwell 299-300)
Movie Clip (1:40:00-1:40:40)
Another idea that conveyed the terror of this ultimate totalitarian world that
is set in, is the torturous deprivation that happens in the Ministry of Love, which the film lacked.
Room 101 had a terrifying impression in the novel that the film lacked (starvation, physical beating, electrocution, suffering)
The duration of Winston’s confession process felt like an eternity
Clear that all the other prisoners in the room with him were completely mortified by the mention of Room 101
Writing Techniques: Use of diction
Created a terrifying atmosphere
Grabbed the audience's attention
Showed the power of the government through the fear of Room 101
"‘Room 101,’ said the officer.
The man’s face, already very pale, turned a colour Winston would not have believed possible. It was definitely, unmistakably, a shade of green.
‘Do anything to me!’ he yelled. ‘You’ve been starving me for weeks. Finish it off and let me die. Shoot me. Hang me. Sentence me to twenty-five years... I’ll tell you anything you want. I don’t care who it is or what you do to them. I’ve got a wife and three children. The biggest of them isn’t six years old. You can take the whole lot of them and cut their throats in front of my eyes, and I’ll stand by and watch it. But not Room 101!’...
The two sturdy guards had stooped to take him by the arms. But just at this moment he flung himself across the floor of the cell and grabbed one of the iron legs that supported the bench... A kick from a guard’s boot had broken the fingers of one of his hands. They dragged him to his feet.
‘Room 101,’ said the officer.
The man was led out, walking unsteadily, with head sunken, nursing his crushed hand, all the fight had gone out of him." (Orwell 248-249)
Movie Clip (1:17:07-1:18:10)
Plot: Flashes to scenes of Room 101 opening to Winston’s “Golden Country”
Result: Misleads viewers to think that Room 101 contains some sort of paradise, when it's actually a room that contains one’s worst fears
Filming Techniques: Eye-level, Medium shot, zoom in, change in music
To show that Winston is dreaming
Change from darkness to light portrays a paradise feeling
Compared to novel: Although the film also includes many of the symbols and references to hope for the future and memories of the past, they wouldn’t make much sense to someone who hasn’t read the book.
One of the strategies that Big Brother and the Party use to brainwash its citizens is manipulating the past through history records, dreams and memories. Although both texts have these themes, the novel better represents them by making them appear more obvious and significant to the story's characters.
"And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’ And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered." (Orwell 37)
Movie Clip (00:57:21-00:57:36)
"‘By 2050—earlier, probably—all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed ... Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like ‘freedom is slavery’ when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.’" (Orwell 56)
Another strategy used by the Party to control thought is the reduction of vocabulary and the limitation in language. This includes the concepts such as "Newspeak", and without someplace to explain these ideas, it's hard for the movie to make sense to people who don't know what's going on.
Newspeak scroll that Winston opens while at work
Occasionally used by Parson’s kid
The movie also didn't provide any kind of explanation for what Winston was doing, and unless having read the novel, one would not know that his job was to rewrite the Party's records in the Ministry of Truth.
Filming Techniques: High-angle, Dolly in
To show the dominance of Big Brother
Portray the tight, frantic work environment (part of the control is to keep everyone in a constant state of exhaustion)
The concepts created for this totalitarian society are fairly complicated, and without an explanation such as the ones in the novel, it would be difficult to understand the ideas that revolve around the terrifying world that Orwell has created, therefore the movie might be extremely confusing and uninteresting.
Movie Clip (00:06:05-00:07:00)
Evidently, compared to Michael Radford's film, George Orwell's novel
better portrays the ideas of mind control, human nature, and the influences of language and the past on the present and the future. The novel brilliantly incorporates the horrors of a totalitarian government, and successfully warns future generations of the dangers of absolute power.