NINETEEN EIGHTY FOUR TV SERIES BLU RAY REVIEW BFI

Eton educated, Spanish civil war fighting and totalitarian system pillorying Eric Blair, known by his nom de plume George Orwell, would no doubt have laughed heartily over the current banding about of his ideas from 1984 by the right wing and the upper class sponsored morons that make up the anti vax brigade. Its misuse, by no less than quasi Fascists and contemptable Communists, signals how ignorance of his work, attacking the figureheads of authoritarianism, are being used to legitimise them. Adapted by Nigel Kneale (QUATERMASS), who as Mark Gatiss rightly points out, is one of British television and film writings greatest voices, cruelly under appreciated NINETEEN EIGHTY FOUR was, on release, televisual dynamite. Starring Peter Cushing (STAR WARS, DRACULA, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN), Donald Pleasence (HALLOWEEN, PRINCE OF DARKNESS)

The story is oft told and very well known by now. Young man in oppressive regime, feels trapped. He then falls for a woman. Feels free. The authorities don’t like this and so, set up his demise by turning the things he loves against him. Finally forcing his hand and making him submit, to the will of the mighty over the many. You know this, because, well we all mostly know this. I read the book heartily in my teen years and still can picture the shocking conclusion. I also know how the language of the piece has become the language of our civilization. Why so many say that we have group speak and think, yet are parroting the same. This is where the dystopian masterpiece is brought vividly to life by the masterful pen of Kneale. He punctures the absurdist nature of collaboration and collation. Being those who control by controlling what those who know share.   The production feels caged because of this and this adds to the over whelming sense of control. Intentionally of course. Reflecting the nightmarish realm of future England. Its choice of leads, emphatically captures the nascent quest and those fragile but hearty people doomed to failure. Orwell’s haunting vision of society that is dominated by relentless tyranny and subversion is delightfully manifested here. It is a world in which Big Brother is always watching you!

The set is overflowing with delights. With the very, very best three things being the excellent documentary,  Nigel Kneale: Into the Unknown. Which explores the writer in facets and allows the viewer to get into the head space of a man concerned with the world as it was becoming. He capture a moment in time like John Christopher did also. This made their works timely and the right approach is to ground it with clarity and, as done here, relevance today. Then the Late Night Line-Up, which allows the cast to revisit the film post the controversy and reflect on the creation story anew. Finally it is the Newly recorded audio commentary, packed with points, data, talking references and notes on what Orwell meant, Kneale meant and big brother meant. 

 

Presented in High Definition and Standard Definition
Newly recorded audio commentary on Nineteen Eighty-Four by television historian Jon Dear, host of Nigel Kneale podcast Bergcast, with Toby Hadoke and Andy Murray
Nigel Kneale: Into the Unknown (2022, 72 mins): writer, actor and stand-up comedian Toby Hadoke and Nigel Kneale biographer and programmer Andy Murray try to unpick who Kneale was, what he did and why his work still matters today
Late Night Line-Up (BBC, 1965, 23 mins): members of the cast and crew look back on the controversies surrounding this adaptation of Orwell’s classic
The Ministry of Truth (2022, 24 mins): in conversation with the BFI’s Dick Fiddy, television historian Oliver Wake dispels some of the myths that have grown up around the groundbreaking drama over the course of the past half century
Gallery of rare images from the BBC Archives
Original script (downloadable PDF)
Illustrated booklet with new writing by Oliver Wake and David Ryan
Newly commissioned sleeve art by Matt Needle

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