Walt Disney's 1984
"In Soviet Russia, you watch Big Brother!" - старшый брат
Walt Disney’s 1984 is a musical, animated movie, adapted from the George Orwell novel 1984. Controversial on its release in 1998 it was neither a critical nor commercial success with audiences and critics. It was felt that the themes of totalitarianism, torture, violation of human rights, sexual liberation, and oppression were incompatible with a light-hearted children’s movie. Additionally, critics felt that the plot of the novel had been distorted entirely changing the main message of the book.
Winston Smith is a talking otter, working for the Ministry of Truth in a dystopian, future London. London is the main city of Airstrip One, a province of Oceania, a totalitarian superstate that controls it’s citizens through The Party, propagating the aims of IngSoc, as well as intimidation, torture and executions. Oceania is in a state of permanent war, against either Eastasia or Eurasia. While the enemy changes, The Party claims that it is always at war with the same state. Winston is employed in falsifying records to maintain these claims. Winston is disillusioned with The Party, IngSoc and living conditions in general, which is a criminal offence, punishable by torture and death. He also begins a love affair with Julia, a cat that helps produce pornography for the masses. He is recruited into a secret society sworn to overthrow The Party, but it is revealed that O’Brien, a Merino Ram and Inner Party member that recruited him is actually a member of the ThoughtPolice, who arrests him. He is tortured in the Ministry of Love, and sent to Room 101, where his worst fears, singing rats, are used to destroy his love for Julia. At this point, his Fairy Godmother, Emmanuel Goldstein, appears, ushers in World peace, destroys The Party, and re-unites him with Julia, just before Winston renounces her. They live happily ever after.
Winston Smith (Voice)······················Jim Carrey
Julia (Voice)···································Jessica Alba
O’Brien (Voice)·······························Robin Williams
Parsons (Voice)·······························John Candy
Mrs. Parsons (Voice)··························Meryl Streep
Big Brother (Voice)···························Dick Cheney
Smyth (Voice)·································Dustin Hoffman
Charrington (Voice)····························Chris Tucker
ThoughtPolice (Voice)·······················Ben Stiller
The criticism of this movie is roughly divided in two camps: those that argue that there are too many differences between the original novel and the movie, and those that argue that certain aspects of the novel should not have been incorporated into the movie. The first group claim that torture, rape, totalitarianism and brutality shouldn’t be shown in an animated movie aimed at young children. For example, Winston’s fantasy about raping and brutally murdering Julia is considered to be unnecessarily graphic, and at 47 minutes, disproportionately long. Others argue that the ending of the movie, with all of Winston’s problems being solved with a magic wand is in some way over-simplistic and out of keeping with the tone of the novel.
Pressure was put on Walt Disney not to release this movie from the White House, which objected to “the portrayal of illegal kidnapping, and torture by governments in secret prison complexes in a negative light”. When it was explained that the government of Oceania was legally torturing its citizens the object was withdrawn.
To save money no actor was hired to portray the voice of Big Brother. Instead, stock recordings of Dick Cheney screaming “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength” at Republican Conventions was used instead.
Although Robin Williams in the role of O’Brien gives an “hilarious” imitation of John Wayne while torturing Winston, this was originally to be deleted, as it was thought to be in some way anachronistic. Unfortunately, Williams’ lawyers had successfully inserted a clause in Williams’ contract stating that he had to do this as it was his “trademark wackiness”.
All of George Orwell's surviving relatives disappeared six months prior to the release of this movie, but emerged days before it's release, near the Disney Studios. When questioned all they would say was "Walt Disney's 1984 is doubleplusgood.", before being shot.