1984

by: George Orwell

Movie Adaptations

1984, 1956
Director: Michael Anderson
Notable Cast: Edmond O’Brien, Jan Sterling, Michael Redgrave, Donald Pleasence

The first film adaptation of 1984 was a British production released in 1956, directed by Michael Anderson and starring Edmond O'Brien, Jan Sterling, Michael Redgrave, and Donald Pleasence. The 1956 film remained faithful to the themes and story of the novel, but made many changes to plot points and characters, combining, rearranging, and replacing elements of the novel in order to make a clearer storyline. Additionally, the characters of O’Brien and Goldstein are renamed O’Conner and Calidor. While well-received, this movie never became a hit.

1984, 1984
Director: Michael Radford
Notable Cast: John Hurt, Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton

The second film adaptation was released in the actual year 1984, directed by Michael Radford and starring John Hurt, Richard Burton, and Suzanna Hamilton. This adaptation remained more faithful to the plot of the novel, although it diverged significantly in its ending. In the film, Winston’s confession is broadcast publicly after he is released from the Ministry of Love. While the film—like the novel—ends with Winston encountering an image of Big Brother, the film seems to indicate that the image instills shame, regret, or grief in Winston, while the image in the novel instills love for Big Brother. Like its predecessor, this adaptation was well-received, but not a major hit.