Nineteen Eighty-Four (sometimes 1984) is a 1984 British science fiction film, based upon George Orwell's novel of the same name, following the life of Winston Smith in Oceania, a country run by a totalitarian government. The film was written and directed by Michael Radford and stars John Hurt and Richard Burton in his final film role.
In a dystopian 1984, Winston Smith (John Hurt) endures a squalid existence in the totalitarian superstate of Oceania under the constant surveillance of the Thought Police. The story takes place in London, the capital city of the territory of Airstrip One (formerly Britain). Winston works in a small office cubicle at the Ministry of Truth, rewriting history in accordance with the dictates of the Party and its (probably mythical) supreme figurehead, Big Brother (Bob Flag). A man haunted by painful memories and restless desires, Winston is an everyman who keeps a secret diary of his private thoughts, thus committing thoughtcrime â?? the crime of independent thought, contrary to the dictates and aims of the Party. His life takes a fatal turn when he is accosted by a fellow Outer Party worker â?? a mysterious, bold-looking girl named Julia (Suzanna Hamilton), whose surname is never revealed â?? and they begin an illicit affair. Their first meeting takes place in the remote countryside where they exchange subversive ideas and have a sexual encounter. Shortly after, Winston rents a room above a pawn shop (in the supposedly safe proletarian area) where they continue their liaison. Julia, a sensuous, free-spirited young woman, procures contraband food and clothing on the black market, and for a brief few months they secretly meet and enjoy an idyllic life of relative freedom and contentment together. It comes to an end one evening when the Thought Police suddenly raid the flat and arrest both. It is revealed that there is a telescreen hidden behind a picture on the wall in their room, and that the seemingly kindly elderly proprietor of the pawn shop, Mr. Charrington (Cyril Cusack), is a covert agent of the Thought Police. Winston and Julia are taken away to be detained, questioned and brutally rehabilitated, separately. Winston is brought to the Ministry of Love, where he is systematically tortured and brainwashed by O'Brien (Richard Burton), a high-ranking member of the Inner Party whom Winston had previously believed to be a fellow thoughtcriminal and agent of the resistance movement led by the archenemy of the Party, Emmanuel Goldstein (a remote and shadowy figure who, like Big Brother, probably does not actually exist). O'Brien instructs Winston about the state's true purpose and schools him in a kind of catechism on the principles of doublethink â?? the practice of holding two contradictory thoughts in the mind simultaneously. For his final rehabilitation, Winston is brought to Room 101, where O'Brien tells him he will be subjected to the "worst thing in the world", designed specifically around Smith's personal phobias and traumas. When confronted with this unbearable horror â?? which turns out to be a cage filled with vicious, carnivorous rodents â?? Winston's psychological resistance finally and irretrievably breaks down, and he hysterically repudiates his allegiance to Julia. Now completely subjugated and purged of any rebellious thoughts, impulses, or personal attachments, Winston is restored to physical health and released. Winston returns to the Chestnut Tree CafÃ©, where he had previously seen the rehabilitated thoughtcriminals Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford (themselves once prominent but later disgraced members of the Inner Party) who have since been "vaporized" and rendered unpersons. While sitting at the chess table, Winston is approached by Julia, who was similarly "rehabilitated". They share a bottle of Victory Gin and impassively exchange a few words about how they have betrayed each other. After she leaves, Winston watches a broadcast of himself on the large telescreen confessing his "crimes" against the state and imploring forgiveness of the populace in the humbled and remorseful manner of a prodigal son come back to the fold. Upon hearing a news report declaring the Oceanian army's utter rout of the enemy (Eurasian)'s forces in North Africa, Winston looks at Big Brother, then turns away and almost silently says "I love you".