Nineteen Eighty-Four (film)

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Under the spreading chestnut tree
I sold you
You sold me.

Nineteen Eighty-Four [sometimes 1984] is a 1984 British film about a totalitarian future society in which a man whose daily work is rewriting history tries to rebel by falling in love.

Directed and written by Michael Radford, based upon George Orwell's novel of the same name.
Big Brother is watching… (taglines)

Big Brother

  • This is our land --- a land of peace, and of plenty; a land of harmony and hope. This is our land: Oceania. These are our people: the workers, the strivers, the builders. These are our people --- the builders of our world, struggling, fighting, bleeding, dying --- on the streets of our cities, and on the far-flung battlefields, fighting against the mutilation of our hopes and dreams. Who are they? (images of protesters appear; a crowd chants "Eurasia, Eurasia.") They are the dark armies --- the dark, murdering armies of Eurasia. In the barren deserts of Africa and India, in the oceans of Australasia, courage, strength, and youth are sacrificed --- sacrificed to barbarians whose only honour is atrocity. But even as we grasp at victory, there is a cancer, an evil tumour, growing, spreading in our midst. (Image of Goldstein appears) Shout. Shout! SHOUT OUT HIS NAME!

Winston Smith

If there is hope, it lies in the proles. If they could become conscious of their own strength, they would have no need to conspire.
In accordance to the principles of Doublethink, it does not matter if the war is not real, or when it is, that victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous.
  • April 4, 1984... I think. To the past or to the future, to an age when thought is free, from the Age of Big Brother, from the Age of the Thought Police, from a dead man --- greetings!
    • (First entry in his forbidden diary)
  • If there is hope, it lies in the proles. If they could become conscious of their own strength, they would have no need to conspire. History does not matter to them.
    • (Entry in his forbidden diary)
  • Thoughtcrime is death. Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death. I have committed even before setting pen to paper the essential crime that contains all others unto itself.
  • Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you, you sold me.
  • We are the dead.
  • Was there ever a time when this was ordinary?
  • [reads from Goldstein's book] "In accordance to the principles of doublethink, it does not matter if the war is not real, or when it is, that victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous. The essential act of modern warfare is the destruction of the produce of human labour. A hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. In principle, the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects, and its object is not victory over Eurasia or Eastasia, but to keep the very structure of society intact." [notices Julia is asleep] Julia? Are you awake? There is truth, and there is untruth. To be in a minority of one doesn't make you mad. Julia, my love, I understand how, but I don't understand why.
  • Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two equals four. If that is granted all else will follow.
    • (Entry in his forbidden diary)
  • Do it to her! Do it to Julia! I don’t care what you do to her, but do it to her! Tear her face off! Do it to Julia, not to me! DO IT TO JULIA! DO IT TO JULIA!!!! Not me!
  • I love you.
    • (Last lines of the film)


  • We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.
  • Obedience is not enough. Power is inflicting pain and humiliation; otherwise, you cannot be sure. Power is tearing human minds apart, and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. Power is not a means, it is an end. In our world, there will only be triumph and self-abasement. Everything else, we shall destroy. The past is forbidden. Why? Because when we can cut man from his own past, then we can cut him from his family, his children, other men. There is no loyalty, except loyalty to the Party. There is no love, except love of Big Brother. All competing pleasures, we will destroy. If you want a vision of the future, Winston, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.
  • You once asked me, Winston, what was in room 101. I told you that you knew already. Everyone knows. The thing that is in room 101... is the worst thing in the world.
  • The world we are preparing, Winston, is of constant victory and constant triumph. You are beginning to accept it, you'll soon welcome it, and, finally, become a part of it.
    • [NOTE: this line was deleted from the film, but it can be heard on the US theatrical trailer.]


  • Harold Syme: It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You won't have seen the 10th dictionary edition yet, Smith. It's [indicates size with his thumb and index finger] that thick. The 11th edition will be [decreases size to small] that thick. The secret’s to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from [points at his throat] here, not from [points at his temples] here.
  • Tom Parsons: Keep away from me, Smith. I’m an agent of Goldstein. I didn’t know it myself. Thoughtcrime is so insidious. It just creeps up on you. My daughter found it out. Very proud of her. Very grateful I’ve been discovered before it’s too late. They won’t shoot me, will they, Smith? I know I can be very useful in a labour camp...!
  • Emmanuel Goldstein: (His finals words were recorded for the "Two Minutes Hate" before his execution...) What is freedom? Nothing the Party says is true. Nothing the Party does is good. Even the war itself isn't real. The Party wants you to believe we are at war so as to channel your aggressions away from their rightful target: the Party. Big Brother is not real. He is pure fiction created by the Party. The real rulers of the State are unknown, faceless manipulators who, because they are not known, are able to wield power without let or hindrance. People of Oceania, you are being duped. The Party doesn't serve the people — it serves itself. We are not at war with Eurasia. So, what is freedom? You are being made into obedient, stupid slaves of the Party. Open your eyes. See the evil that is happening to you. The Party drops bombs on its own citizens. It is the Party, not the Eurasians, who are our enemies. Rise up. Throw off the yoke. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, people of Oceania. (...and he finally gets executed by a firing squad.)


Winston Smith: Look, I hate purity, I hate goodness! I don't want virtue to exist anywhere! I want everyone corrupt.
Julia: Well, I ought to suit you, dear. I'm corrupt to the core.
Winston Smith: Do you like doing this? I don't mean just me...
Julia: I adore it.

O'Brien: Tell me, Winston - and remember, no lies - what are your feelings towards Big Brother?
Winston Smith: I hate him.
O'Brien: You must love him. It is not enough to obey him. You must love him.

Winston Smith: I know you'll fail. Something in this world... some spirit you will never overcome...
O'Brien: What is it, this principle?
Winston Smith: I don't know. The spirit of man.
O'Brien: And do you consider yourself a man?
Winston Smith: Yes.
O'Brien: If you're a man, Winston, you're the last man. Your kind is extinct. We are the inheritors. Do you realise that you are alone? You are outside history. You unexist. Get up.
[Winston gets up and O'Brien shows him his reflection in a mirror. Winston is disheveled and beaten]
O'Brien: Look at you. You're rotting away.
[reaches inside of Winston's mouth and pulls out Winston's right tooth]
O'Brien: That is the last man. If you are human, that is humanity.

O'Brien: There are thought criminals who maintain that the resistance is not real. Believe me, Winston, it is very real. Perhaps you are not familiar with how it operates.
Winston Smith: I am attentive to the news.
O'Brien: Indeed. Then perhaps you imagine a huge network of conspirators prepared to commit any atrocity to weaken and demoralise the order of our society. The reality is infinitely more subtle. If Goldstein himself fell into the hands of the Thought Police, he could not give them a list of his agents. Such a list does not exist. They are not an organisation in the sense we know. Nothing holds it together but an idea. Individually, they cheat, forge, blackmail, corrupt children, spread disease and prostitution, in the name of spreading knowledge from generation to generation, until... in a thousand years...

Winston Smith: It's not so much staying alive, it's staying human that's important. What counts is that we don't betray each other.
Julia: If you mean confessing, we're bound to do that. Everybody does. You can't help it.
Winston Smith: I don't mean confessing. Confessing isn't betrayal. I mean feelings. If they can make me change my feelings. If they can stop me from loving you, that would be real betrayal.
Julia: They can't do that. It's the one thing they can't do. They can torture you, make you say anything. But they can't make you believe it. They can't get inside you. They can't get to your heart.

Winston Smith: She's beautiful. [admiring a woman who sings a Party-made prole song]
Julia: She's a metre across the hips, easily.
Winston Smith: That's her style of beauty. The future is hers. We are the dead.
Julia: We are the dead.
Big Brother: You are the dead.
[Winston and Julia turn around, startled]
Big Brother: Remain exactly where you are. Make no move until you are ordered.
[The picture of St. Clemens drops, revealing a mini-telescreen with the face of Big Brother]
Julia: Now they can see us.
Big Brother: Now we can see you. Clasp your hands behind your head. Stand back to back. Do not touch one another.
[Winston and Julia do as he tells them]
Winston Smith: The house is surrounded.
Big Brother: The house is surrounded.
Julia: I suppose we may as well say good-bye.
Big Brother: You may as well say good-bye. While we are on the subject, "Here comes a candle to light you to bed, here comes a chopper to chop off your head!"


  • 2+2=5
  • George Orwell's Terrifying Vision Comes To The Screen
  • Big Brother is Watching…
  • The year of the movie.  The movie of the year.

Quotes about the film

  • What Orwell feared, when he wrote his novel in 1948, was that Hitlerism, Stalinism, centralism, and conformity would catch hold and turn the world into a totalitarian prison camp.  It is hard, looking around the globe, to say that he was altogether wrong.

Michael Radford's brilliant film of Orwell's vision does a good job of finding that line between the "future" world of 1984 and the grim postwar world in which Orwell wrote.

  • This story is, of course, well known.  1984 must be one of the most widely read novels of our time.  What is remarkable about the movie is how completely it satisfied my feelings about the book; the movie looks, feels, and almost tastes and smells like Orwell's bleak and angry vision.
  • The peculiar horror of individuality being swallowed up in some faceless social whole has been portrayed in a number of films that refer to the modern totalitarian experience, including…Nineteen Eighty-Four (Michael Radford, 1984).
  • In a cinema showing patriotic newsreel, anonymous, black-clad citizens rise from their seats in unison to praise their leader Big Brother.  Later in the film, it is made clear that the government considers each individual to be no more than a 'cell' in the great organism of the state.
  • It would be hard to imagine a better dramatization of Orwell's novel than this film.  It does a good job of communicating the novel's substance and spirit, and it has some compelling performances.  In particular, the expressive John Hurt is riveting in the lead role.  However, this is such a powerful portrayal that many viewers will find the ultimate defeat of the individuals in the hands of the mega-state depressing, and some scenes of torture are graphic.  It's not the most uplifting film, but certainly a very important one.
    • Jon Osborne, Miss Liberty's Guide to Film and Video: Movies for the Libertarian Millenium.  Also available at Jon Osborne, "1984 (1984),"
  • "1984" the film works because it wonderfully embodies the bleakness that was the book.