BODY SNATCHERS, MAN BEASTS AND MOLE MEN
Will Ecstasy Be a Crime… In the Terrifying World of the Future?
Directed by Michael Anderson, the film is based on the novel by George Orwell that tells of a totalitarian future society in which a man whose daily work is rewriting history, rebels by doing the unthinkable– he falls in love. 1984 stars Edmund O’Brien as clerk Winston Smith of The Ministry of Truth for the Outer Party who refuses to accept the totalitarian state of 1984, where all the citizens are under surveillance at all times. When Winston meets Julia they bask in their physical pleasures outside of the watchful eyes of Big Brother but are betrayed by a member of the Inner Party, O’Connor (Redgrave). Each state functionary must adhere to their designated positions and Redgrave gives a superb performance as a proud drone who possesses a drive as he demonstrates his responsibilities to the state.
The underrated Jan Sterling plays Julia of the Outer Party, and David Kossoff is cast as Charrington the junk shop owner. Co-starring in the film are Melvyn Johns as Jones, Donald Pleasence as R. Parsons, Carol Wolfridge as Selina Parsons, Ernest Clark as Outer Party Announcer, Patrick Allen as Inner Party Official, British character actor Michael Ripper as Outer Party Orator and Kenneth Griffith as the prisoner.
It was in 1954 that Nigel Kneale (writer-creator of the Quatermass trilogy, The Quatermass Xperiment 1955, First Men in the Moon 1964, The Witches 1966, Quatermass and the Pit 1967, The Woman in Black 1989 first adapted George Orwell’s dystopian Ordeal for BBC television starring Peter Cushing as Winston Smith.
Director Michael Anderson (who would later take on another futuristic cautionary tale, Logan’s Run 1976) unveils Orwell’s bleak vision and its passage of vigilance, yet it has been criticized for lacking the deeper essence of his novel and the gravity of its contributions – a premonition of things to come. The ferocious inclinations of man create- Big Brother. A destiny intent on tyranny, depersonalization, the all-watchful eye of the totalitarian state, and the loss of free will.
There were two endings made. The British release presents Winston Smith (O’Brien) defying Big Brother and dying for his principles. The American version has lovers O’Brien and Sterling brainwashed, reconditioned and ultimately abandoning their relationship.
“Thus, in place of Orwell’s savage satire on the rise of the authoritarian state ( and specifically Stalinism), producer Rathvon and Anderson mount a vapid romance in which beefy O’Brien and mousey Sterling are clearly intended to represent the undying spirit of rebellion. Even the drabness of life in Oceania that Orwell creates so convincingly, is lost in the film which, like so many literary adaptations, centers on the slim storyline of the novel.” -Phil Hardy
Continue reading “🚀 Keep Watching the Skies! Science Fiction Cinema of the 1950s: The Year is 1956 — Part One”