1984 Except in 1956

So when I started watching the movie, I noticed some things, the obvious one being the fact that it was in black and white, which is expected for its time. It’s just that I’m so used to everything being in color. Another thing I noticed was that the movie starts differently from the book. It actually starts with explosions and people moving to find shelter. One of those people being Winston, who just so happens to run into Julia. I feel like them meeting right at the beginning adds more impact to the scenes they’re in together.

Speaking of Julia and Winston, their appearances in the movie were drastically different from what I imagined based on the book. Instead of being lanky, he was portrayed by Edmond O’Brien, who is by no means as skinny as a twig. It takes away from Winston’s character because I couldn’t imagine someone like that getting manhandled and not at least injuring someone in the process. I half expected him to sucker punched Mr. Charrington and O’Brien, who was renamed to O’Connor (I’ll come back to that). Julia, however is far less of a problem. The only gripe I had with her was the color of her hair. She was supposed to be dark-haired, specifically a brunette. However, she was blonde in this adaptation, but honestly didn’t take away or change anything from the story.

The sneaky bastard whose last name is O’Brien was depicted very accurately in my opinion. I think the actor fit the part and played him well. I don’t know why they changed his name though, probably because of Edmond. Mr. Charrington was okay however. They cast an old man for the role, which makes sense, but like I said, his part was okay.

Something I didn’t point out was that at the early beginning, I noticed there was already propaganda being shown. I saw a sign that said “Hate Eurasia” and another one being “Big Brother is Watching You.” The movie starts off strong with the bit of foreshadowing. If I didn’t read the novel, I would probably ignore those signs and see them as meaningless. Also, the layout of the city. I know that it’s obviously full of people, but I got a vibe of abandonment and emptiness from just the buildings. The fact that the movie was in black and white only helped support that idea. It could have been due to the bombings and it does make the most sense. However I’m not too sure if the bombings are actually from Eurasia or the Party reinforcing their hatred. I don’t remember if they talk about it in the movie but I wouldn’t put it past the Party if they were the ones behind it.

At the end of the movie, when Winston was getting “cured,” his appearance was becoming rugged and decrepit the more he got tortured to the point that he was put in front of a mirror and he couldn’t believe that was what he became. But eventually he is “cured” and released and finds Julia again, but the contact is a bit…..awkward. Julia looks distant and Winston is just surprised to see her.

Removing Blindfolds

This version of the film has both very strong similarities and very strong differences. The first major difference would be the open scenes. Here the film gives a back story of how the world has come to be at its current state. When reading the book I always wondered how and why the society has gotten to this point. I understood that a world war kind of situations lead the party to become a totalitarian ruler but never truly understood why. They only insight of the past given to us from the book were Winston’s flash backs to the past in dreams, which were kind of sporadic. The fact that the film showed the world in its original condition then its final condition is significant because it gives the viewers, like myself, a more in-depth understanding of how drastically things have changed for the worst. It also makes it easier to relate to Winston’s emotions of sadness when he has flashbacks to the past, because I now understood how good life was, I can feel his pain of knowing how far gone society has come.

The film doesn’t show Winston purchasing the diary, but at 5:09 we are first introduced to it. In this scene, he enters his apartment and begins to kick it along the ground out of sight of the monitors. Although the way the book is introduced is different, there is a mutual understanding between the book and the novel that the diary is to be hidden, and will lead to his demise if found.  Something I found to be a significant detail in the film would be when he sat down at his desk to write in his diary and crossed out the date 1960 and put 1984. In the novel, there was an in-depth description of Winston’s diary to give the readers the understanding of how old the book was, it was from a time before the party’s ruling, a time of freedom. The diary symbolized freedom, Winston’s mental freedom. The film summed all that up into one simple scene / action, successfully and clearly showing the age of the diary and showcasing its importance.

The film had lots of foreshadowing but the clearest example would be at 8:30 when one of Winston’s friend’s daughter comes into the apartment immediately accusing Winston of thought crime, pointing out the fact that the desk he writes at is too far from the monitor which is suspicions, and threatens to report him to the authorities. This was significant to me because I know everyone is monitored and listened to at all times, so someone from the party had to hear that, this could very much so have been the beginning of the end for Winston. The party from that point could have been watching his every move and waiting to figure out all his allies, Julia, to basically kill 2 birds with one stone.

When Winston and Julia were caught in the room by the hidden monitor, I questioned why they didn’t apprehend him earlier since they knew of his actions. But the party was smarter than that, they used Winston to lure in, and seek out other members of the opposing side. Basically, getting more bang from their buck. For some reason, I never realized or thought of that until I watched this version of the film. In both films and the novel, the idea of Winston being caught is thrown around left and right, most likely because Winston was in fact caught long before we were actually told, but we all knew it just like the party knew of his disloyalty.

Vision can change everything

From the very start of the film I was given the feeling of a communist type of society/ environment. The first colors visible are black, white, grey and red, and the opening captions are in bold red letters. This is a major significance between the film’s opening scenes and the books opening scene. It’s like hearing a name a bunch of times, and finally being able to put a face to the name. Right off the bat I was able to grasp an idea of what the society was like and its strict ruling. From the very start of the film a crowd is seen watching a propaganda video that started out fairly calm but quickly transformed into scenes of violence. The film mentions the people of the crowd as “the builders” of the society. At 2:35 the film shows fires, bombings, death and shootings, the narrator soon appears on screen commanding the people to scream the leaders name in guessing causing an uproar.

The sight of war caused to crowd to become roweled up. This imagery helped give me a clear understanding of how the poorer people lived. In the novel, I understood that they were forced and brainwashed by propaganda to love the party and follow its every command, but seeing the crowds attitude switch at the drop of a dime made it crystal clear how wrapped around the parties fingers they actually were. Consumed by propaganda and false teaching to the point of extreme mood swings, they went from relaxed to infuriated in a matter of seconds. They are taught to hate certain thinghs and adorn others, this becomes apparent when the film changes for the last time. Showing “INGSOC” on the screen with a flag waving behind it causes everyone to praise this imagery, some even begin to cry.

One similarity between the novel and film would be their way of living. The streets are littered with trash, houses lay demolished while many have clear signs of impact, assumingly due to war, and the elevator in the building doesn’t work. Everyone is living in ruins and technology that should be used to their benefit doesn’t work, yet all rooms are wired with monitors.  The scene where the elevator isn’t working is a very important one, it shows what the party really cares about and what they priorities. They have enough technology to watch the proles and monitor their every move, yet could care less to provide them with working elevators to ease the struggles of everyday life they encounter living in such a dilapidated neighborhood. The elevator can serve as a symbolism of normal life, and that being gone shows how far gone society is. Nothing is normalized anymore and the party has absolutely no intention of bringing “normality” back.






Two Extra Credit Opportunities: ‘1984’ Movies

I am offering two extra credit blogs based on two different movie versions of 1984 (please categorize appropriately). For each blog, you should provide a response based on a comparative analysis of the novel and the particular film (this response can also include your thoughts on/opinions of/reactions to the film).  You may choose to write just one blog or both (or neither), but all blogs are due Tu 4/18 and should be a minimum of 500 words.

Here are links to the two versions of the movie:

As you watch the film(s) and draft your response(s), you should definitely take stock of similarities and differences between the novel and the film, but this is only a first (pre-draft) step. Don’t forget to take notes during the films, so you can include concrete details from the events in your blogs.

Your response blog should not only note key similarities and/or differences but also (and this is the crucial part!) discuss the significance of these similarities and/or differences.  Putting two texts in dialogue with each other allows you to create a more nuanced argument about them. Remember, your goal is not to simply list your observations (for example: these are the things than are different in the film) but to critically analyze these differences (how do omitted/added/revised characters, plot details, conflicts, etc. change our understanding of the text?).

Extra credit blogs will replace missing blogs (or count as additional credit if you’ve done all of them already). There are only two grades for these extra credit blogs (100 and 0). If you watch the films & blog your responses/reflections completely (in terms of length and content) and thoughtfully, you will receive 100% (an “A”) for the assignment. If you do not turn in the assignment (or if it is too short/not fulfilling the purposes of the assignment), you will receive a “0.”

Class Discussion: Contemporary Connections to ‘1984’

2017 has been “doubleplusgood” for sales of George Orwell’s “1984.”
“George Orwell’s ‘1984’ Hits Bestseller List Again”

Sales of Nineteen Eighty-Four have been soaring recently. Why is there so much interest in this dystopian novel, published almost 70 years ago? What is its relevance now, to our lives in 2017? Why/how does this speak to the conditions that we find ourselves in, today?

We’ll use this space to discuss contemporary connections to Nineteen Eighty-Four. This is your opportunity to be creative, to be critical, and to put our own lives (and world) in dialogue with the ideas of the novel. Drop comments about connections you make, and provide links to sources that we can check out to learn more (e.g., news stories, images, movies, advertisement, songs, etc.).

Don’t judge the book by the cover

Winston Smith wants to break free from “Big Brother” and “the party”, he believe that if everyone decided to go against the system that they would have a chance of changing things in Oceania . Winston knew that  having thoughts about going against the system was punishable by death or a long time in prison, this was considered to be thought crimes. Julia who ends up falling for Winston also wants to be free but unlike Winston she doesn’t think that party can be overthrown.

Winston is a protagonist in his late 30’s who has his own point of view on life , he tend to hold on to memories of his life by writing important details in his diary. Big brother the ruler of Oceania plans to rewrite Oceania history by editing known history replacing it with lies. People of Oceania were being fed with lies but nobody had the guts to question the party mainly because of the consequences they would face for being convicted of a thought crime. During a 2 minutes of hate session Winston began double thinking he then looked over and noticed O’Brien, he always felt like O’Brien had thoughts of beating the system. “until this moment you had never considered what is meant by existence”(42), O’Brien is a member of the thought police but Winston had no idea he’s trying to manipulate Winston.

Winston never liked Julia at first he always thought she was a member of the thought police because she fit the description of a modern day thought police. When Julia started showing her interest toward Winston , he became more open and less suspicious of her. “The one thing that matters is that we shouldn’t betray one another”(28) Winston wants Julia loyalty. Winston and Julia both were guilty of a crime going against Big brother.

Winston thought that O’Brien would be a good person to turn to for help to go against “Big Brother” and the party only to find out later that O’Brien was apart of the thought police. Julia on the other hand who Winston was suspicious of being a member of the thought police place her life on the line for Winston cosigning with his thoughts of being rebellious. 

Who could be trusted more, Julia or O’Brien?

With Book Two, Winston meets Julia and begins an affair that he deeply wanted, this started the contrast between them. Unlike Winston, Julia doesn’t really care about the Party. She has a mix of sense practicality that makes her plan their affair. She also lacks fatalism. When he tells her, “We are the dead,” she replies calmly, “We’re not dead yet.” Julia is more optimistic than Winston. She accepts her life for what it is, and tries to make the best of it. Winston tries to undermine it but she doesn’t understand that side of him or the party. The only thing that’s resides in her is the rebellious act of Winston because she’s apart of it. Julia is more of a selfish type of person than Winston. Winston just enjoys the fact that the rebellion will spread. The affair kept going until Winston meeting O’Brien. Since then he played a risk with renting above mr.charrington’s shop. This was due to the inspiration by “vision of the glass paperweight”. Making him think that their relationship could be similar to those in the past more free time. With Winston looking into the paperweight opens his mind about a world inside but outside time, free of the party. Also Winston thinks about his past on how deep the mind manipulation by the party is often but still knows the reality. Julia is one of his few outlets for his expression in a meaningful way. But the only thing that would separate them is the party with its manipulation through their past. “The past is whatever the records and the memories agree upon. And since the party is in full control of all records, and in equally full control of the minds of its members, it follows that the past is whatever the party chooses to make it.” (Pg 219) In a way where that they would turn on each other if caught but still love each other which shows the power of the party in human minds. Winston meeting o’brien just fills him with optimism and yet fatalism. He does feel safe around him and that’s what O’Brien leads him to believe. With that belief, he’s filled with thrill, because of what he’s doing it will eventually get him caught. O’Brien is everything Winston wants to be, which is a act that he puts on to set Winston up in the long run.

Secret Relationship

The full background of the Julia character finally revealed in part two chapter three and to find out she has more hatred of the inner party than Winston does. I found out that Julia and Winston are the same on how they feel about the inner party, but they are fundamentally different because Julia is an optimist and Winston is a pessimist like for instants, “She did not understand that there was no such thing as happiness, that the only victory lay in the far future, long after you were dead, that from the moment of declaring war on the Party it was better to think of yourself as a corpse. “We are the dead,” he said. “We’re not dead yet,” said Julia prosaically” (Orwell, pg.138).

Also, as young as Julia is in the story she has a great talent to live two lives without the Thought Police finding out about her dark half. She participates in the Junior Anti-Sex league but has sex with many Party members and create Hate Week banners but doesn’t believe in it. But Winston loved the corrupted aspect of Julia and the fact that she purposely to the other Party members, “Anything that hinted at corruption always filled him with a wild hope. Who knew, perhaps the Party was rotten under the surface, its cult of strenuousness and self-denial simply a sham concealing iniquity. If he could have infected the whole lot of them with leprosy or syphilis, how gladly he would have done so! Anything to rot, to weaken, to undermine!” (Orwell, pg. 128).

In Part Two, Chapter 4, Winston went back to Mr. Charrington store where he purchased paperweight to rent the room located above store to enjoy another moment with Julia. After Winston made love to Julia and showing Julia that he afraid of mice, I discover one part in this chapter that was very interesting to me. Winston described the paperweight as his relationship with Julia frozen in time, but this is the one time he was a little optimistic outside his current reality. “It was as though the surface of the glass had been the arch of the sky, enclosing a tiny world with its atmosphere complete. He had the feeling that he could get inside it, and that in fact he was inside it, along with the mahogany bed and the gateleg table, and the clock and the steel engraving and the paperweight itself. The paperweight was the room he was in, and the coral was Julia’s life and his own, fixed in a sort of eternity at the heart of the crystal.” (Orwell, pg.150).

“Welcome to the Monkey House”

The lengths The Party goes to keep its status quo of government is more insanely brilliant, it being a whirl wind of gore for its subjects to enjoy and dragged into. The Party’s attitude on sex at first in to story is that seen of ” objective ” use, as it only being used to turn out more party members to feed the party, and to spy on their parents. Julia ultimately realizes that this is used two fold. ” It was not merely that the sex instinct  created a world of its own which was outside of the Party’s control and which there for had to be destroyed if possible. what was more important was that sexual privation induced hysteria, which was desirable because it could be transformed into war fever and leader worship”( page 135). The sex prohibition is in turn, just another cog to the Party’s total war doctrine, and allow something as a demagogue like Big Brother to take hold as a central part of society. what is more interesting still is that, porn is distributed among the proles to keep them getting to uncomfortable, as the poorest people generally have sex the most in hierarchical society. The bombastic gathering called “Hate Week”, is simultaneously the biggest paradox to the Party and its apex of glory. the paradox arrives from the fact that Hate Week is a large grouping of people acting very cantankerously with bombs going off all around. (As a side note, the fact that rocket bombs go off much more constantly during Hate Week really solidifies the fact that the Party is bombing its members.). While all the the violent displays are regulated by the Party, with even them playing the “Hate Song” on every telescreens for a week. “The new tune which was to be the theme song of Hate Week (the “Hate Song” it was called)…” “resembled the beating of a drum. roared out by hundreds of voices to the tramp of marching feet, it was terrifying” (page 151). This cacophony never stops even at night, creating more and more hysteria for this week, trying to invoke a sense of constant war and emending doom, the bombs going off in the distance can be seen as a simulated battle almost saying that the “enemy” is close by. this all culminates with the feeling that only Big Brother can protect you from the ravages of war and that surveillance  is for your safety. The history and bulwark of the Party makes it evident on how the Party acts the way it does. The Party’s complete opposition to foreign ideas is because it never really had to deal with strong opposition ever really. The Party takes many of its ideas from the early socialist movements of the nineteen hundreds and the idea that things should be unequal, as the flaw of the past socialist movements was that sense of equality. At the apex of the Party is Big Brother, the cult of personality. “Big Brother is infallible and all powerful” (page 213). The fact that the Party turns the guise of a normal into the head of itself and a god is tell, almost saying its ruled by divinity and that the war machine culture is humanities apex an reason for creation.

A Not So Quiet Life

The room that Winston rents out above Mr. Charrington’s shop is a small place, but is host to more than enough events in the story. It originally is used as an easy place for Julia and Winston to meet up, but escalates into much more. “So long as they were actually in this room, they both felt, no harm could come to them” (152). Both of them initially think that the little room, which Winston regrets renting out in the beginning, is a safe haven that will protect them from anything. They are both wrong.

Throughout hate-week, Winston and Julia slowly come to terms with the fact that they will eventually be caught by the Party. Winston finds solace in O’Brien, because he appears to be against the party.  O’Brien appeals to Winston with his talk about the resistance, not knowing that he plays right into his hands. It only becomes clear when it is too late and the police bust into the room. Their so called “safe haven” was a lie all along as there was a hidden telescreen behind the picture of St. Clement’s Church. The room does not protect them in the slightest.

“You will work for a while, you will be caught, you will confess, and then you will die…”(177). The quote has a lot of foreshadowing, as Winston and Julia both know that this will eventually happen to them. However they also both believe they will still love each other even after the party is done with them. The party is a force that should not be taken lightly.I wouldn’t say that they were too arrogant, as they both knew they would meet their end sooner or later, but they were both a bit optimistic about their love surviving the torture they would most likely receive.