George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, is one of the most terrifying, resonant sci-fi works of all time. It is a bleak, desolate glimpse at our possible future, but it is also a book peppered with moments of hope and humanity. 1984 has already been a movie and television program numerous times (coincidentally enough last in 1984) but that’s not stopping Imagine Entertainment from commissioning screenwriter Noah Oppenheim to draft a new adaptation.
1984 is set in a totalitarian future where the ever-present “Party” (led by Big Brother) rules over the super state of Oceana. Citizens are constantly monitored and kept under the repressive heel of the government boot. Endless war, mind control, and historical revision are some of the keywords of the day, but in this environment of extreme oppression, love, emotion, and human connection can still gain a foothold.
Michael Radford’s earlier version of 1984 does a good job capturing the desolate landscape of Orwell’s 1949 classic. The atmosphere is grim and dark, and the color spectrum is almost entirely shades of grey.
I’m curious to see what Oppenheim’s version will look like. He’s working on The Secret Life of Houdini (with Gary Ross to direct), an American remake of Daniel Espinosa’s Swedish thriller Snabba Cash, and an update of War Games for MGM. Given his action heavy background, it is easy to envision his 1984 as more of an action thriller than as the tense political allegory that it actually is.
I would like to see Imagine do this well, but it is difficult to imagine mainstream Hollywood in this day and age making a film as subversive, dissident, and idea-based as Orwell’s novel.