Nineteen Eighty-Four | BBC

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In 1954 the BBC did what is arguably the best adaptation of George Orwell’s classic novel.

Nineteen Eighty-Four is a British television adaptation of the 1949 novel of the same name by George Orwell, originally broadcast on BBC Television in December 1954. The production proved to be hugely controversial, with questions asked in Parliament and many viewer complaints over its supposed subversive nature and horrific content.

A young Peter Cushing give one of the best performances as Winston Smith, a man tired of the oppressive government. Big Brother is always watching in a world where individual thought, actions, and feelings are a crime. When Winston breaks the law by falling in love with Julia, he seeks to join a small band of government resistors. But, the all seeing eyes of the government soon detect the intent of the two lovers, and Winston is taken by the government for reprogramming. Can Winston’s human will and spirit survive such torture, or will he break and become a mindless servant of the system? As Winston’s interrogator says, if you want to imagine the future, envision a boot stomping on a human face…forever.  

Titles for Nigel Kneale’s 1954 adaptation of ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, George Orwell’s story about a man who tried to rebel against the totalitarian state in which he lived and worked, directed by Rudolph Cartier. The title sequence designer gave nothing of the plot away but sought to create an atmosphere of dark foreboding by filming a swirling mass of billowing smoke in response to the music by John Hotchkis. The titles, set in a stencil sans serif typeface, were filmed on a rostrum camera and combined with the background in a film optical, played into the live programme on the night. The drama and incidental music were performed live with the orchestra in an adjacent studio, playing to a closed-circuit feed of the action taking place on the studio floor. The repeat performance, which took place four days after the premiere on 12th December 1954, was fortunately preserved as a 35mm telerecording.

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Source: 1984 – BBC TV – 1954

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