George Orwell’s 1984

July 4, 2016 | By

Before I get into the nitty-grittty details of the latest review, a big Happy Fourth of July to American readers and the amazing indie labels who’ve not only nurtured the release of forgotten, marginalized, and undiscovered genre classics, but released more than a few classic CanCon titles which have been largely ignored up here.

There’s putting out old fill screen transfers, and then there’s doing it right by creating HD transfers from original camera masters, restoring the colours of films unseen in their full glory since their original and very brief theatrical runs. Same goes for the fine soundtrack labels who continue to put everything into making the most definitive editions any anyone, because perhaps more than stars or directors, film composers aren’t defined by geography, but the quality of their work.

Next: crazy wave of sudden filmmaker deaths this past week. Robin Hardy, director of The Wicker Man (1973), perhaps the finest British horror film on record; and Michael Cimino, controversial auteur whose career was given a huge boost with the Oscar-winning The Deer Hunter (1978), and went into the crapper after the disastrous Heaven’s Gate (1980).

Both filmmakers will retain very distinct mystiques, but I’ve always felt they made far too few films in their lengthy careers.

19841984_BRNow then. What started off as an intended comparative review between Michael Radford’s 1984 and Michael Anderson’s 1956 film versions of George Orwell’s dystopian sci-fi classic 1984 kind of turned into an essay, which explains the delay in posts this past week.

It’s rare when this occurs on my end, but sometimes a review grows as you dig into related materials and new information forces a reorganization of focus. What’s been posted is still a review of Twilight Time’s recent Blu-ray edition of Radford’s definitive edition, but there’s a preamble, a breakdown of plot points, and a lengthy comparison of the 1953 Theatre Guild on the Air radio play, the 1953 Studio One teleplay, the 1954 BBC Sunday-Night Theatre teleplay, Anderson’s 1956 film, and the 1984 Radford film, plus a wrap-up.

Why go bonkers on 1984? I don’t know. Call it a longtime fascination with post-apocalyptic sci-fi dramas, a genre I call British Bleakism, and a mania to compare various adaptations by filmmakers. In this case it was too good to be true: a radio show, a pair of live teleplays, and two features films whose own release history on home video’s been very wonky.

I’ll revise the piece some day (perhaps in an expanded book form) with more details from the novel, but in its current 8,000 word state (yes, it’s longer than my chapter in The Canadian Horror Film: Terror of the Soul), it’s enough. In a future related piece I’ll do a comparison between the original Dominic Muldowney and Virgin-imposed Eurythmics music (both of which I love), but for now this is what I offer. Just brew a pot of coffee and have a whole sandwich instead of a morning espresso and baguette to kill time.

I’m finishing up on the visual component to my podcast with Nima Fakhrara, and fingers crossed the next renderings won’t cause Premiere to hang and crash. Here are some frame grabs of the midsection which supports the End Titles piano piece from The Girl in the Photographs (2016). Like the stills from The Mask visual podcast, these are frames from a slow but constantly moving mass of blue matter.


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Girl Photos - ET.Still002

Girl Photos - ET.Still001

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Also coming very shortly: reviews of Deepa Mehta’s Beeba Boys (Mongrel) + Anurag Kashyap’s amazing Gangs of Wassypur (Cinelicious Pics), and modern noirs Hickey and Boggs (KINO Lorber) from Carl Franklin + Devil in a Blue Dress (Twilight Time) from Robert Culp.




Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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