1984 is a year, a term and a cultural icon. Even without ever reading the book or seeing the movie it’s something that you can’t help but be aware of. The concept of big brother, a government that is always watching you is one that has permeated into our society at such a deep level that people reference things in 1984 that they only have a general knowledge of. I was one of those people until recently.
I finally read the book. I found it utterly riveting. I think that George Orwell’s work only grows more and more relevant with each passing year. Big brother isn’t just about the government watching you. It’s about an upper middle class that’s completely willing to give up their privacy and freedom for the sake of their country. Is that really that different than how so many Americans gladly handed over their freedoms with the patriot act after 9/11?
1984 isn’t just about the ruling elite either. It’s also about a massive population base that is so unaware of their own power in numbers that they are left alone and are controlled by the few at the top. This is as true now in our 99% America as it was for the 98% of the third estate during the French revolution. It seems the more things change the more they stay the same.
Yes, in 1984 the government is always watching your every move but a reason the upper middle class (if you can even call them that) is willing to give up their privacy and freedom is because they are scared. They are scared because their country is always in a state of war. Again does this sound familiar?
Orwell has an amazing ability to see into the future while still making very real characters. Of course his future is now our past of 30 years ago but it still feels like a destination we could easily arrive at.
The film version starring John Hurt that came out in 1984 is a decent movie. However, like most film adaptions of books it is lacking so many things. The book 1984 is very internal and there is only so much of the main character’s internal life that can’t be shown on film.
Don’t do the cliff notes on this one. If you have never read 1984 you should actually sit down and read it. You will see clear similarities to our world now, regardless of what your political beliefs are. If you do watch the movie only do it after reading this classic book.