Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

35mm film, Eastmancolor
mono, English

A British science fiction film directed by Michael Radford.

Plot Summary

In the aftermath of a nuclear war, the world has been divided into three constantly warring power blocs. In 1984, London is the capital of the superstate Oceania, ruled over by the Party and its all-seeing leader . One of the bureaucrats that helps maintain the system, Winston Smith, commits the ultimate thoughtcrime – he falls in love, an act that will eventually lead him to a meeting with sinister interrogator O'Brien in the dreaded Room 101…


Director: Michael Radford
Umbrella, Virgin
Executive Producer: Marvin J. Rosenblum
Producer: Simon Perry
Co-producers: Al Clark, Robert Devereux
Associate Producer: John Davis
Script: Michael Radford
Story: Jonathan Gems
Novel: George Orwell
Director of Photography: Roger Deakins
Editor: Tom Priestley
Music: Dominic Muldowney
Costume Designer: Emma Porteus
Make-up: Anna Dryhurst, Mary Hillman, Debbie Scragg
Hair: Paula Gillespie, Stephanie Kaye
Special Effects Supervisor: Ian Scoones
Production Designer: Allan Cameron

John Hurt (Winston Smith)
Richard Burton (O'Brien)
Suzanna Hamilton (Julia)
Cyril Cusack (Charrington)
Gregor Fisher (Parsons)
James Walker (Syme)
Andrew Wilde (Tillotson)
David Trevena (Tillotson's friend)
David Cann (Martin)
Anthony Benson (Jones)
Peter Frye (Rutherford)
Roger Lloyd-Pack (waiter)
Rupert Baderman (Winston as a boy)
Corinna Seddon (Winston's mother)
Martha Parsey (Winston's sister)
P.J. Nicholas (William Parsons)
Lynne Radford (Susan Parsons)
Shirley Stelfox (whore)
Janet Key (instructress)
Hugh Walters (Artsem lecturer)

Alternative Titles

1984 – alternative spelling
Orwell 1984 – Italy

Remake of
Sunday Night Theatre: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954a)
Sunday Night Theatre: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954b)
1984 (1955)
Theatre 625: The World of George Orwell: 1984 (1965)

See also
Brazil (1985)
Gattaca (1997)
Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982)

Production Notes

The telescreens were provided by Harkness Screens Ltd of Borehamwood, Herts.

Pop duo Eurythmics were originally commissioned to provide a score for the film after the producers' first choice, David Bowie, wanted too much money. Radford was unhappy about using an electronic score and preferred an orchestral score by Dominic Muldowney that had been recorded a few months earlier. Some fragments of Muldowney's score was retained but the bulk of it, including the theme song Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four), was released as a single to great success in the UK, was provided by Eurythmics. Radford disowned the soundtrack and the version of the film edited by producers' Virgin Films, and was vocal about his disdain for the Eurythmics score during his acceptance speech at the Evening Standard British Film Awards, later withdrawing the film from consideration at the BAFTA awards in protest. Eurythmics maintained that they had no prior knowledge of the Muldowney score.

The film was originally set to open at the Venice Film Festival in 1984 put it was pulled the last minute and its UK release delayed until 10 October, and it's US opening in New York was set back to 14 December. It also opened at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles to qualify for the 1985 Academy Awards and broke box office records for the cinema, taking $62,121, despite inclement weather.

Both scores have been made available on CD and some DVDs and blu-rays.



  • AIP & Co no.63 (February 1985) pp.44, 47-48 – article
  • Cahiers du Cinéma no.365 (November 1984) pp.15-17 – review; 19-22 – interview with Michael Radford; 22 – note; 23 – interview with John Hurt
  • Cinefantastique vol.15 no.3 (July 1985) pp.50-51 – review, interview with Michael Radford
  • Cinéma no.311 (November 1984) pp.35-36
  • Cinéma no.312 (December 1984) pp.48 – interview with Michael Radford (Entretien avec Michael Radford (1984) by Catherine Taconet)
  • Cinématographe no.105 (November 1984) p.70
  • City Limits no.158 (12 October 1984) pp.22
  • Écran Fantastique no.48 (September 1984) pp.20-22, 25-27 – article
  • Écran Fantastique no.50 (November 1984) pp.4, 46-50 – review; 52-53 – interview with Michael Radford; 54-55 – interview with Suzanne Hamilton
  • Écran Fantastique no.50 (November 1984) pp.50, 51 – article; 76-77 – interview with John Hurt
  • Film (epd) no.1 (January 1985) pp.31-32
  • Film Directions vol.7 no.26 (Spring 1985) pp.4-5 – interview with John Hurt
  • Film Score Monthly vol.4 no.6 (July 1999) pp.34-35 – soundtrack review (Settling old scores by Jeff Bond)
  • Films and Filming no.362 (November 1984) pp.39-40
  • Films vol.4 no.11 (November 1984) pp.8-9 – interview with Michael Radford
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.281 no.24 (10 April 1984) pp.34 – credits
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.284 no.31 (20 November 1984) p.11 – note
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.284 no.46 (13 December 1984) p.27
  • Jump Cut no.32 (April 1986) pp.5-7, 14 – review
  • Legend no.29 (1999) pp.33-34 – illustrated soundtrack review (CD reviews by Barry Spence)
  • Making Better Movies vol.1 no.2 (April 1985) p.76 – note (Behind the Screen: Big Screens for Big Brother)
  • Metro no.65 (1984) pp.7-10 – interview with John Hurt
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.51 no.611 (December 1984) pp.385-387 – credits, synopsis, review
  • Music from the Movies no.24 (Summer 1999) p.34 – soundtrack review (Film music review: old films by Roy Donga)
  • New Musical Express 27 October 1984 pp.44-45 – illustrated review (by Ian Penman)
  • Photoplay vol.35 no.12 (December 1984) pp.14-15 – article
  • Positif no.286 (December 1984) pp.2-4 – review; 5-10 – interview with Michael Radford
  • Premiere November 1984 p.13 – review (by Michele Halberstadt)
  • La Revue du Cinéma/Image et Son no.399 (November 1984) pp.28-29
  • La Revue du Cinéma/Image et Son no.401 (January 1985) – interview with Michael Radford
  • Screen International no.419 (5 November 1983) pp.1, 2 – note
  • Screen International no.425 (17 December 1983) pp.1, 2 – note
  • Screen International no.429 (21 January 1984) p.1 – note
  • Screen International no.439 (31 Mar 1984) pp.2 – note; 20 – credits
  • Screen International no.447 (26 May 1984) pp.19 – note
  • Screen International no.468 (20 October 1984) pp.27
  • Screen International no.472 (17 November 1984) pp.1, 2 – article
  • Screen International no.473 (24 November 1984) pp.4, 25 – note
  • Screen International no.474 (1 December 1984) pp.4 – letter from Keith Turner, head of distribution at Virgin Films
  • Screen International no.476 (15 December 1984) p.1 – note
  • Screen International no.478 (5 January 1985) p.18 – note
  • Sight and Sound vol.18 no.1 (January 2008) p.11 – illustrated article (Rushes: Fistful of five: )
  • Sight and Sound vol.53 no.2 (Spring 1984) pp.spring 113-114 – article
  • Sight and Sound vol.54 no.1 (Winter 1984/85) p.64
  • Starburst no.315 (October 2004) p.102 – illustrated DVD review (DVD reviews by David Richardson)
  • Starburst no.334 (March 2006) pp.66-67 – illustrated article (Top 10 Future Visions)
  • Stills no.12 (Jun-Jul 1984) pp.86-87 – note
  • Stills no.14 (November 1984) pp.12 – article; 54-55 – review
  • Télérama no.1818 (14 November 1984) pp.30-31
  • Time Out no.716 (10 May 1984) pp.25, 27 – article
  • Time Out no.738 (11 October 1984) pp.23-25 – article; 43 – review
  • Variety 9 November 1983 pp.4, 27 – article (Perry sets remake of Orwell's 1984 by Jack Pittman)
  • Variety 25 April 1984 p.45 – note (Orwell's 1984 rolls in London, first product of Chi film buff)
  • Variety 15 June 1983 pp.2, 64 – article (But who's watching Big Brother? By Jack Pittman)
  • Variety 1 August 1984 p.7 – note (1984 pulled from Venice; preem off until October)
  • Variety 15 August 1984 p.20 – note (Death of Burton spurs 1984 sales)
  • Variety 10 October 1984 pp.12, 26
  • Variety 12 December 1984 p.6 – note (Atlantic Releasing takes all U.S, rights to 1984)
  • Variety 25 December 1984 p.24 – note (IVE buys homevid rights to 1984 with theatrical shares thrown in)


  • Daily Mail 1 December 1984 p.2 – illustrated article


  • Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction by Phil Hardy (ed) p.388 – illustrated credits, review
  • BFI Screen Guides: 100 Science Fiction Films by Barry Keith Grant pp.111-112 – illustrated credits, review
  • The Complete Index to British Sound Film Since 1928 by Alan Goble p.1 – credits
  • The Encyclopedia of Novels Into Films second edition by John C. Tibbetts and James M. Welsh pp.319-320 – credits, review (by M.P.E. [Michael P. Emerson]) – illustrated credits, review
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby p.349
  • The Espionage Filmography: United States Releases, 1898 through 1999 by Paul Mavis p.223 – credits, review
  • Film Review 1985-1986 by F. Maurice Speed pp.91-92 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
  • The Films of the Eighties by Robert A. Nowlan and Gwendolyn Wright Nowlan p.400
  • Hoffman's Guide to SF, Horror and Fantasy Movies 1991-1992 p.12 – credits, review
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films IV by Donald C. Willis p.362 – credits
  • The International Spy Guide 002 by Richard Rhys Davies p.641 – illustrated credits, note
  • Sci-fi Chronicles by Guy Haley (ed.) p.126
  • Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Film Sequels, Series, and Remakes by Kim R. Holston and Tom Winchester p.362-363 – credits, review
  • Variety Science-Fiction Movies by Julian Brown (ed.) p.78 – illustrated credits, review

Other sources

  • BFI Southbank Guide August 2009 p.32 – illustrated listing