I read the book many years ago. I remember the main plot but forgot the ending. The only other thing I recall is that they raised the price of chocolate from 25 to 30 and Winston had to rewrite the history and state they're reducing the price from 50 to 30.
Richard Burton was great but seriously underused. Excellent voice and delivery. John Hurt did fine, mostly towards the end. He's a fine actor, the problem is in the script and direction. Suzanna Hamilton was decent, not great. A few other minor characters, did not add anything to the film.
Visually it was OK, not great. At times it looks like a cheap TV movie. There was some atmosphere in the film, but not all the way through. A lot of cheap scenes. Everybody praises the cinematography. I can't. It looked OK. Nothing great. A few days ago I rewatched The Shining. That has great cinematography. I would also recommend Messiah of Evil for great camera work. 1984 cinematography was OK at best. The music was OK, annoying at times. The dialogue was mumbled and hard to understand at points.
Now, onto the story. We don't get a good idea what is going on. We know this is in a future time when 3 world powers are at war, and the people are brainwashed. But we don't get a full picture of Hurts character. We see some backstory of his mother and sister, and a scene with a prostitute. We see him at work rewriting history. But these scenes are very boring and it's all cheap TV show format. I'm reading other reviews now. One critic mentioned that when Winston went into the proletarian area he didn't look too cautions or paranoid, like he did in the book. He just came and went like it was normal. Apparently in the book things were more stark, and he would have been more cautious in this area of town.
I've seen this movie years ago on TV and don't remember it much. Watching it yesterday I was thinking, OK, this is fine, but I saw the deficit in it. It is very slow, and boring. I will now need to reread the book.
Worth checking out, if you read the book. If not, I would not recommend it. As it is my rating is 4 stars, maybe a C. The problem is the director. He also wrote the script. I do not recommend directors, write and produce their own films. No checks and balances.
OK, after watching this mess of a film last week, I viewed 3 other versions and rewatched this yesterday. The 1956 US film. The best Peter Cushing 1954 British TV version. And the 1953 US TV version. All of the previous versions were superior to the 1984 mess. Simply put everything was better, from the script and the acting to cinematography, costumes, music, directing, dialogue, story, and comprehension of what the hell is going on. I recommend watching all versions to compare. I don't know why John Hurt is elevated to such heights. He was a decent actor but give me a break. The best version of Winston Smith was Peter Cushing. The Eddie Albert 1953 and Edmond O'Brien 1956 also acted well, much better than Hurt. I thought Richard Burton as O'Brien did well until I checked out the other versions. Best was Andre Morell 1954 against Cushing, he was cool and calculating. Lorne Greene 1953, and Michael Redgrave 1956 were also good. I thought the best Julia was Norma Crane 1953. But Yvonne Mictchell 1954, and Jane Sterling 1956 did well. Suzanna Hamilton 1984 was OK, but the worst, the only thing she did well was when she took her clothes off. That just doesn't make the film. Donald Pleasence as Syme in the 1954 version was excellent. Great stuff. Gregor Fisher as Parsons in 1984 version was a complete joke, what a mess. All the Charringtons did well, but the best was 1954.
Not having read the book in so long, I cannot comment on the differences with the book. But after watching the 4 versions available, I saw what the 84 version missed on. The meeting at O'Briens home, the previous versions had Julia accompany Smith, this one didn't and it was much shorter. There was some intense dialogue in the earlier versions. When Charrigton enters the room towards the end, this version is shorter, the previous versions had more impact. Gratuitous nude scenes. At the end one of the thought police gut punches Julia. I wonder who thought this was a good idea? The torture scene in this one was ridiculous, repetitive nonsense. There was more impact in the older versions.
So, my revised rating is a D or 3 stars. For balance for all the praise given I will give 1 star. This movie is a joke. It looks disgusting. The flashback scenes of Smith as a kid and then visiting a prostitute, all add up to a bunch of crap. Missing information, the audience is left to read the book, or just be awed by the visuals, which is honestly not that impressive. Zero chemistry between Smith and Julia. This director wrote the screenplay. Big Freaking Mistake. Maybe he should have viewed the other versions. Or, how about reading the book. Or, maybe get a professional screenwriter, rather than try to slap some stupid scenes together that make no sense. Forget the D, this is an F.