The New Yorker asks: SO ARE WE LIVING IN 1984?
As the rule has it, the answer to any question posed in a headline is “no.” But since the subject came up, the answer isn’t just no, it’s “you wouldn’t ask that if you’d read the book.” It does remind you - by which I mean me - that there have been several filmed versions of the book, each with their own version of Big Brother. Let’s take a look. First of all, here’s Eddie Albert as Winston Smith, looking more farmer-like than he ever did in "Green Acres."
Oceania is where I want to be / Oligarchy is the gov for me / Meeting Julia for carnal sin / Keep Eurasia just give me that Victory Gin. This was a live TV performance, and rather spare. Big Brother was presented in an abstract style:
The BBC version - also live, and two hours long - was more literal. It showed the Ministry of Truth as a hideous pyramid emblazoned with state slogans:
The two-minute hate is quite similar to the definitive filmed version of the book, released in 1984. The director of the ’84 version quotes it directly, when Goldstein’s speech ends in film of a Eurasian soldier shooting into the camera - followed by the comforting sight of Big Brother. Any similarities to Stalins, living or dead, is purely coincidental:
When Hollywood took a whack at the story, they had to play up the love angle. I know, I know, seems preposterous! As if Edmond O’Brien isn’t enough!
The movie's Big:
The 50s paperback version had a more brutish Big Bro, and it tarted up Julia to put her sultriness at odds with her membership in the ASL:
Finally, the 1984 movie, which, like everything else in that incredible movie, nailed it:
The unblinking gaze, the hint of dispasionate menace - it's perfect. That's Bob Flag, a non-actor who just showed up for an open casting-call.
I wonder if he practiced in the mirror before he went.