Last week, there was a nationwide screening of “1984” held in theaters around the country. I was quoted in IndieWire about some of my off the cuff thoughts after the film. The purpose of it was to bring attention to the book, and further a public political conversation about the parallels between the novel and the current political climate in this Trump Administration. I had the opportunity to catch one of the screenings at the Alamo Drafthouse in Brooklyn, and would like to share more of my thoughts. Firstly, I thought that this film was very faithful to the book. Starring John Hurt as Winston Smith, and Suzanna Hamilton as Julia, the casting was done well also. Despite the fact of this film being 33 years old, it still gives a very frightening view of totalitarianism. Showing a doomed love story in a repressive society, “1984” is a worthy visual representation of Orwell’s 1949 protest novel.
Secondly, this is a disturbing movie. The film depicts the 2 Minute Hate, public executions, hangings and constant surveillance. Not all that distant from our partisan news sites and racist rage displayed on the internet, the viral killings by police captured online in the past few years, and the selling of people’s web browsing habits that was green lighted last week. The vision of how the world Orwell knew in the late 1940’s could become the future unfortunately does not seem that off, in retrospect. One of the aspects of totalitarianism and authoritarianism that he cautioned against was the prospect of endless war. Now that the attack on Syria by this administration began Thursday night, the United States has yet another front that it has added to its 25+ years of conflict in the Middle East.
Third, while these themes are not comfortable to sit with, exploring them is a must. One of the aspects of the film and book that I came away with was the necessity of “staying human” The best way to do that, is to continue to voice opposition, and stay aware of when we are being lied to, no matter who is saying it.