Nineteen Eighty-Four in popular media
George Orwell's dystopian political novel Nineteen Eighty-Four has been adapted for the cinema twice, for the radio and television at least twice. References to its themes, concepts and plot elements are also frequent in other works, particularly popular music and video entertainment.
- 1 Film adaptations
- 2 Radio adaptations
- 3 Television adaptations
- 4 Operatic adaptation
- 5 References in popular culture
- 6 References
Nineteen Eighty-Four has been adapted into two theatrically released films. 1984 was directed into 6 different films but the only ones released to public were the following two. The first 1984 film was released in 1956. The second 1984 film, released in 1984, is a reasonably faithful adaptation of the novel, and was critically acclaimed. Many of the film's scenes were shot on the actual dates mentioned in the novel. For example, the scene in which Winston Smith writes the date "April 4, 1984" in his diary was filmed on April 4, 1984. The film's soundtrack was performed by the band Eurythmics, and a single taken from this, "Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)", was a hit in several countries. The film is notable for containing Richard Burton's last performance.
The first radio broadcast of Nineteen Eighty-Four was a one-hour adaptation transmitted by the United States' NBC radio network at 9pm. on August 27, 1949 as number 55 in the series NBC University Theater, which adapted the world's great novels for broadcast; it starred David Niven as Smith. Another broadcast on the NBC radio network was made by The Theatre Guild on The Air on Sunday April 26, 1953 for the United States Steel Hour starring Richard Widmark as "Smith" and Marian Seldes as "Julia".
In the United Kingdom, the BBC Home Service produced a 90-minute version with Patrick Troughton and Sylvia Syms in the lead roles, first broadcast on October 11, 1965. In April and May 2005, BBC Radio 2 broadcast a reading of the novel in eight weekly parts. As part of the 2013 The Real George Orwell season, BBC Radio 4 will broadcast a two-part adaptation starring Christopher Eccleston as "Smith", Pippa Nixon as "Julia" and Tim Pigott-Smith as "O'Brien" on February 10 and 17.
The second television version was adapted by Nigel Kneale for the BBC as a Sunday Night Play in 1954 starring Peter Cushing as "Smith", André Morell as "O'Brien" and Yvonne Mitchell as "Julia". The same script was remade in 1965 for the BBC 2's Theatre 625 series.
The opera 1984 was composed by Lorin Maazel and directed by Robert Lepage. The libretto is by Tom Meehan, who worked on The Producers, and JD McClatchy, professor of poetry at Yale University. The opera premiered on May 3, 2005 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
References in popular culture
References on radio
- "1985", an episode from the fifth season of The Goon Show where 846 Winston Seagoon is a worker for the Big Brother Corporation (a play on the acronym of the British Broadcasting Corporation). Several times during the episode Eccles exclaims "It's good to be alive, in 1985!", and Room 101 becomes the BBC Listening Room, using recordings such as Mrs. Dale's Diary for torture.
References on television
- "1984", an Apple Macintosh commercial depicting an Orwellian dystopia, directed by Ridley Scott.
- Reality show Big Brother takes its name from the novel, as does British programme Room 101. The ability given to viewers to watch the contestants of some Big Brother versions in all locations at all times alludes to the idea of Big Brother's omniscience.
- Countdown with Keith Olbermann, a news program on MSNBC, Keith Olbermann often quotes from the novel. These are usually presented in the "Special Comment" editorial section of the show in reference to current American political debate. Olbermann often refers to the Fox News Channel as the "Ministry of Truth".
- An Important Things with Demetri Martin episode contains a sketch, which parodies the experience of Winston Smith in Room 101
- The second episode of the fourth season of 30 Rock, "Into the Crevasse", features a reference to Big Brother. Kenneth Parcell, in addition to working at NBC claims to give his time to several charitable organizations, among them Big Brother. Tina Fey's character Liz Lemon believes him to mean the male half of Big Brothers Big Sisters, but he corrects her saying, "It's an organization that secretly watches people and makes sure they're behaving properly."
- In SpongeBob SquarePants one of the villains, Manray, takes over the world after Patrick ruins the future for Bikini Bottom. Propaganda is seen throughout the darker and more sinister Bikini Bottom, including posters stating that "Manray is watching you", as well as many other dystopian-themed posters.
- The video for Ready, Set, Go! by Tokio Hotel, mostly inspired by the Apple commercial.
References in anime
- Code Geass, a popular mecha anime, gives a subtle reference to the world divisions of 1984. At the start of the series, the three superpowers (the Holy Britannian Empire, the Chinese Federation, and the European Union) control approximately the same territories as Orwell's three superpowers.
References in popular music
- David Bowie's 1974 album Diamond Dogs contains five songs inspired by the novel: "We Are the Dead", "Rock 'n' Roll With Me", "Sweet Thing", "1984" and "Big Brother". Bowie originally planned a musical adaptation of the novel as a full-length theatrical production, but the author’s late widow, Sonia Brownell, denied him the rights. A television special which first aired in late 1973 and which featured musical performances by Bowie was jokingly called "The 1980 Floor Show" as a punning reference to Bowie's unsuccessful attempt.
- CANO's 1978 album Eclipse contains the song "Bienvenue 1984", which contains references to the novel and George Orwell. The song's lyrics present a dystopian reality of economic failures and ethnic strife.
- In John Lennon's 1973 quasi-protest song "Only People", he repeatedly sings the line "We don't want no Big Brother scene..."
- Radiohead's song "Karma Police" references the Thought Police. They also have a song called "2 + 2 = 5", and lead singer Thom Yorke has stated in interviews that the album "Hail to the Thief" is inspired in part by the Dante's Inferno and Nineteen-Eighty Four.
- Rick Wakeman, from Yes released the album 1984 in 1981, to lyrics by Tim Rice. This is a concept album directly based on the novel.
- Subhumans released the album The Day The Country Died in 1982, which appears to be influenced by Nineteen Eighty-Four. One of the songs is called "Big Brother", with lyrics like "There's a TV in my front room and it's screwing up my head", referring to the telescreen of the novel. Much like the novel, the album is largely dystopian, with songs like "Dying World" and "All Gone Dead", the latter of which contains lyrics like "It's 1984 and it's gonna be a war". According to Dick Lucas, the song "Subvert City" is based on the ideas of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley.
- 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother) is the title of an album by Eurythmics, which was originally released in November 1984 as a partial soundtrack for the film adaptation.
- Oingo Boingo released a song called "Wake up (It's 1984)" on their 1983 album Good For Your Soul. Taking heavily from the movie as well as the book, it serves as commentary to current society.
- Rage Against the Machine released the album called The Battle of Los Angeles in 1999 featuring the track "Testify" containing the phrase "Who Controls the Past Now, Controls the Future, Who controls the Present Now, Controls the Past...", a slogan used by the Party. The entire track "Testify" is arguably an indirect reference to the novel. Also on the same album, the song "Voice of the Voiceless" contains the lyrics "Orwell's hell a terror era coming through, but this little brother is watching you too". The song "Sleep Now in the Fire" states "I'm deep inside your children, they'll betray you in my name," referencing Winston's neighbor.
- Bad Religion released the album called The Empire Strikes First in 2004 featuring the track "Boot Stamping on a Human Face Forever" with the title of the song being a direct reference to the Nineteen Eighty-Four novel. In the novel, O'Brien suggests the image of a boot stamping on a human face forever as a picture of the future. The song seems to be referring to the hopelessness of rebellion against the Party. The lyrics of the title track also states "You don't need to be afraid, you deserve Two Minutes Hate". The lyric book art style is Orwellian themed. During live shows at the time of the release of "The Empire Strikes First," they used a banner with the words "Two Minutes Hate." In their album Suffer, The song "Part II (The Numbers Game)" makes references to the book, with lines such as "Big Brother schemes to rule the nation" and "The government observes with their own electric eye".
- Marilyn Manson's album Holy Wood includes a song called "Disposable Teens" in which he sings that he's "a rebel from the waist down". This is a direct reference to Orwell's book, when Winston accuses Julia of being "only a rebel from the waist downwards". Manson referenced 1984 in a much more explicit manner with "Irresponsible Hate Anthem" from the album, Antichrist Superstar. As well as conforming to the description of the "Hate Song" in Orwell's novel, it begins with the lines "we hate love, we love hate" and includes the spoken line of "History was written by the winners". On the same album, Manson introduces the song, "Minute of Decay", with the words "From a dead man, greetings", which is actually a line from the second film adaptation of 1984.
- Incubus's album A Crow Left of the Murder includes the song "Talk Show On Mute", about how one day, the television might be watching us instead of us watching them, showing a world where humans are monitored at all times. Among its lyrics is the line: "Come one, come all, into 1984".
- Manic Street Preachers released the album The Holy Bible in 1994, which contains the song "Faster". At the beginning of the song a voice (John Hurt, sampled from the movie version of 1984) quotes a line from the book, although not word for word: "I hate purity. I hate goodness. I don't want virtue to exist anywhere. I want everyone corrupt." They also had a track called "1985", in which they make various references to the novel, such as "In 1985, Orwell was proved right".
- In the song "George Orwell Must Be Laughing His Ass Off" by Mea Culpa, the second verse begins with "If 2 plus 2 don't equal 5, I guess I'm just no fun".
- Singer/songwriter Jonatha Brooke published a song called "When Two and Two are Five" with Jennifer Kimball (as The Story).
- Open Hand released a song called "Newspeak" on their 2005 album You and Me. The song title and lyrics deal heavily with the ideas of newspeak and being thought controlled.
- The Rare Earth hit single "Hey Big Brother", released in 1971, sings of the future arrival of Big Brother, first addressing this future Big Brother directly and then finishing by expressing a rebellious defiance against his arrival.
- The Dead Kennedys' 1979 single "California Über Alles" contains the lyrics "Big Bro on white horse is near", and also "Now it is 1984 / Knock knock at your front door / It's the suede-denim secret police / They've come for your uncool niece" in reference to the thought police of the novel. Another reference to the book can be found in the song "We've got a bigger problem now" on the album In God We Trust, Inc.. The lyrics "Close your mind/ its time for the two minute warning/ Welcome to 1984 are you ready for the third world war/ You too will meet the secret police".
- The Dutch synthesizer musician Ed Starink composed and recorded a "Big Brother Suite" in 1983. He remixed that suite in July 1991 in his new digital studio and released it with the album "Retrospection" under his own Star Inc. label. In the liner notes of this album, he explains that "1984" by Orwell inspired him to create a work that was a mixture of the 12-tone system and rhythmical pop influences.
- Van Halen released the album MCMLXXXIV that year.
- Rock singer Darais Kemp released two songs on his album Sweet Sweet ("Room 101" and "Two Minutes Hate") that explicitly alluded to the novel.
- Sage Francis references "Big Brotherly love" and declares, "Don’t forget what two plus two equals" in the political song "Hey Bobby".
- Progressive metal band Queensrÿche's Operation: Mindcrime is based on 1984.
- Anti-Flag released a song called "Welcome to 1984", in which the band talks about the book in various ways, such as, "Mr. Orwell from the grave, adding fresh ink to the page" and "The double talk is past surreal". An acoustic version of this song appears on Punk Goes Acoustic 2.
- German band BAP referred to Orwell and 1984 in their live recording of the song "Ne schöne Jrooß" on their 1983 live album "Bess demnähx": "Leven Orwell, vierunachzig ess noh, ess mittlerweile nur noch een läppsch Johr" (Cologne dialect for "Dear Orwell, '84 is near, meanwhile it's only one more shabby year to go"). In concerts after 1984, they replaced the second verse with "Ess mittlerweile leider vill ze vill wohr" ("Unfortunately, much too much has meanwhile become reality").
- The second album, What Will the Neighbours Say? by British band Girls Aloud contained the track "Big Brother" which features the line "Big Brother's watching me and I don't really mind".
- Propagandhi's 1993 album How To Clean Everything features a song titled "Head? Chest? or Foot?", stating "I'd rather be in prison in a George Orwellian world, than your pacified society of happy boys and girls." in the final verse. The band also contributed a song titled "War is Peace, Slavery is Freedom, May All Your Interventions Be Humanitarian" to the Fat Wreck Chords compilation Live Fat, Die Young.
- English indie band Dogs have a song named Winston Smith
- Our Lady Peace's album Spiritual Machines contained a track entitled "R.K. 1949" where the narrator states, "The year is 1949, George Orwell portrays the chilling world in which computers are used by large bureaucracies to monitor and enslave the population in his book Nineteen Eighty-Four."
- UK rap artist Jehst makes a number of references to 1984 in his lyrics "2004, its more like 1984 right here right now" and "Its 1984!” in songs with a strong political edge, he also makes reference to "Orwellian Prophecies", Thought Police and Big Brother.
- Alternative jazz artist Bobby Previte released "Coalition of the Willing" in 2006 with songs such as "The Ministry of Truth", "Airstrip One", "Ministry of Love", "Oceania", "The Inner Party" and "Memory Hole" inspired by 1984.
- Utopia's album Oblivion contained a track entitled "Winston Smith Takes It On The Jaw" based on novel's main character
- Coldplay's song "Spies" depicts the general society illustrated in 1984 as well as the concept of thoughtcrime (with references to the Thought Police) and lack of freedom. It includes lines such as "I awake to see that no one is free. We're all fugitives, look at the way we live. Down here, I cannot sleep from fear, no. I said, which way do I turn? I forget everything I learn." and "And if we don't hide here, they're going to find us, and if we don't hide now, they're going to catch us when we sleep, and if we don't hide here, they're going to find us." .
- Anais Mitchell's song "1984" contains various references to Big Brother, vast files on a person's activities, the house being bugged, a USA Patriot Act and reporting people to the government.
- Ex-Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips also released an album called 1984 in 1981, but it was instrumental and a commercial flop.
- The Austin Lounge Lizards' song "1984 Blues" is a stereotypical blues song, in which the singer describes how he "met (his) baby / in the Ministry of Love", how "Big Brother is watching / watching on the telescreen", and how he tells "Mister Thought Policeman" that he "don't wanna do no wrong".
- On the 1972 Stevie Wonder album Talking Book, there is a track entitled "Big Brother", which opens "Your name is Big Brother./ You say that you're watching me on the telly/ Seeing me go nowhere."
- The 1998 album Buy Me, I'll Change Your Life by electronic band Snog is loosely based around the novel
- The Paul Weller penned song "Standards," performed by The Jam on their 1977 album This Is the Modern World, loosely echoes the themes of the novel culminating in the lyric "Look, you know what happened to Winston!"
- The video for The Pogues' song A Pair of Brown Eyes is set in a Nineteen Eighty-Four-esque Britain, with Margaret Thatcher in place of Big Brother.
- Judas Priest's song "Electric Eye" contains references to Big Brother, and specifically telescreens: "I take a pride in probing all your secret moves", "I am perpetual, I keep the country clean", "There is no true escape, I'm watching all the time"
- Ministry's song "Faith Collapsing", from the album The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste consists almost entirely of samples from the 1984 movie version.
- The Aesop Rock song "One Brick" includes the lyric "Platforms have been erected, Effigies built, Slogans coined / songs have been written, Rumors have been circulated, Photographs faked, The hourglass smashed and didn't leave me an escape", most of which is taken directly out of the book. (Page 148 of the Signet Classic Edition)
- Frontman of Muse, Matt Bellamy, has said that the lyrical themes of their 2009 album The Resistance were inspired by 1984. The title track in particular is a direct reference to 1984 and is about Winston and Julia's secret love relationship. One phrase deliberately elicits 1984 "Kill the prayers for love and peace / you'll wake the thought police / we can't hide the truth inside." Other explicit references include the fourth track of the album, "United States of Eurasia". The song "Citizen Erased" from their previous album Origin of Symmetry also directly references the novel.
- The Alan Parsons Project 1982 album, Eye in the Sky, was inspired on the novel.
- On Victims of the Modern Age, the 2010 album from Arjen Lucassen's Star One project, the song "Two Plus Two Equals Five" is based on 1984
- During the performances of Mother by Roger Waters on his 2010-2012 tour of The Wall, the phrase "Big Brother is watching you" is a graffiti-like graphic showing on the projections onto the wall on-stage, only with the word "Brother" defaced with "Mother".
- Corey Hart's Sunglasses at Night depicts a futuristic surveillance society with Orwellian overtones.
- Cheap Trick's Dream Police is about a police force who arrests people for illicit thoughts, much like thoughtcrime.
- Susumu Hirasawa's Big Brother is based upon the underlying themes of Orwell's novel, mostly Big Brother's dominance over the country.
- Skinny Puppy uses samples from 1984 in "The Centre Bullet" "I don't mean confessing. Confessing isn't betrayal. I mean feelings. If they can make me change my feelings, if they can stop me from loving you, that would be real betrayal."  and also in "Carry" from the album "Back And Forth 3 & 4"
References in film
- Near the end of Bedazzled (1967), when Stanley, the character played by Dudley Moore, who has been transformed into a nun, is shown his private room at the convent, he sees a poster above his bed. On the poster is a photograph of Peter Cook, also dressed as a nun, under which reads the caption, "Big Sister Is Watching You."
- Terry Gilliam's Brazil draws heavily from 1984, adding large amounts of dark humour and visual metaphors.
- In Hackers (1995), the character Emmanuel Goldstein says, "1984? That's a typo. Orwell is here now, livin' large. We have no names, no names, man, we are nameless..."
- Me and the Big Guy (1999) is a comedic short-film that satires the relationship between Winston and Big Brother by portraying its main character, Citizen 43275-B, entirely grateful of the Revolution and treating his telescreen as if it were his own best friend.
- Equilibrium (2002) portray a futuristic totalitarian dystopian society like we seen in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the structure of these governments (1984 and Equilibrium) is exceedingly similar, with strict social classes and an omnipresent figurehead, known as the “Big Brother” in 1984 and “Father” in Equilibrium.
- In Eagle Eye (2008), in the beginning of the movie, the quote "Big Brother Is Watching" is used by a reporter in reference to not only 1984, but also to the central theme of the movie: the government being able to tap in and listen to anyone, at any given time.
References in video games
- In the Sanctuary Woods CD-ROM game "Victor Vector & Yondo: The Cyberplasm Formula", there are references to "Victory Cola" and "Victory Coffee". 1984-themed graffiti can be found in several scenes including "2+2=5" and "doubleplusgood". In addition, one scene features a door marked "101", next to which is the graffiti, "The worst thing in the world". If the player clicks on the doorbell next to the door, it falls off and a rat can be heard squeaking.
- In the PC game SimCity Societies, the Authoritarian society is slightly based on Nineteen Eighty-Four, with a Ministry of Truth, Justice Palace, and, among other items, gigantic television screens displaying a bald man who has an uncanny resemblance to the Big Brother of the movie based on the novel.
- The world of Half Life 2 is similar to that of the novel, featuring giant broadcasting screens that show the face of the tyrant dictator who controls the world in which they live, and omnipresent police. The living quarters are similar to the victory mansions where Winston lives, and there are small hovering cameras that are used for watching residents in these apartments. A torture room named "Room 101" is also seen at the beginning of the game. Also, citizens are forced to wear blue denim overalls, just like in Nineteen Eighty Four. Recently, when Valve Corporation announced that Steam was available to Mac users, they recreated the 1984 Mac advertisement, using characters from Half-Life 2.
- Ken Levine, creator of the highly acclaimed FPS Bioshock, said that 1984 along with Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged was an influence on the game's storyline. The "little sisters" are also a direct reference to "Big Brother." In Bioshock 2 in several places you can find written on the walls, "Big Sister is watching you."
- In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, there is a challenge that requires you to call in 3 UAV surveillance drones in a single match. Completion of this challenge will earn the "Big Brother" title, a reference to Big Brother and the Party's constant surveillance of the people.
- In Fallout 3, the characters supposed place of origin, Vault 101, draws many references from 1984, such as a cult of personality surrounding the director of the vault, the overseer.
- Batman: Arkham City has many interesting references to 1984. An example are the signs that force authority in the prison. One of the signs even has Hugo Strange look similar to Big Brother. Also, if you turn the Arkham City's symbol upside down, it looks remarkably similar to Ingsoc's symbol.
References in comics
- An issue of The Mighty World of Marvel featured a variant of Captain Britain from the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four. This version was named Captain Airstrip One (real name George Smith, a combination of George Orwell and Winston Smith) and was a member of the Thought Police.
- In Superman: Red Son, Superman (in this setting the ruler of the Soviet Union) is compared to Big Brother. Additionally, the cover of the third issue was designed in the manner of a poster depicting Superman's head with the caption, "He's watching you".
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier is set in Britain after the fall of the Big Brother government. In this version it came to power in 1945 (Orwell had wanted to set 1984 in the present day but was asked not to by his publisher), and fell in 1956. This version does not appear to have been as effective as the novel since only two years later Britain has reverted (for the most part) to its pre-Big Brother state. In this version it is explicitly stated that Big Brother was General Harold Wharton, and that Oceania/ Airstrip One was only in control of Britain and lying about controlling anywhere else. O'Brian replaced BB in 1952 and seems to have remained in power until forced into an election by the revived Conservative party in 1956. Miniluv being actually MI5.
- Justice Machine takes place on the planet "Georwell" which is later revealed to be Earth in the future after having been taken over by a totalitarian government.
References in books
- Anthony Burgess wrote a novel called 1985 that was inspired by Nineteen Eighty-Four and included essays on Orwell's work.
- György Dalos wrote the novel 1985 that was intended as a direct sequel to Orwell's work.
- In The Areas of My Expertise, in the section on US states, the entry on Indiana mimics Oceania, with the state government being renamed Unigov, Indianapolis being renamed "Speedway One", and the state mottos being phrased in Newspeak.
- In The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands, Susannah Dean uses Orwell and doublethink to describe the wartime actions of the Old Ones of Lud. One of the inhabitants of Lud is also named Winston.
- In Inventing Elliot by Graham Gardner, the main theme of the book is heavily influenced by 1984, and the key villain of Inventing Elliot models himself on O'Brian, the agent of Big Brother who entraps the hero of 1984.
- The title of Cory Doctorow's Little Brother is reference to Nineteen Eighty-Four's Big Brother. The novel's main character has the nickname w1n5t0n, a reference to Winston Smith.
- In The Complete Patriot's Guide To Oligarchical Collectivism: Its Theory And Practice, Ethan explores allegories and metaphors of 1984 in nonfiction, and presents examples of real oligarchical institutions.
- The author of The Butterfly and the Flame Dana De Young, references that 1984 as an influence on her writings. In addition to being dystopian literature, The Butterfly and the Flame features several subtle homages to Orwell's work. One of the main characters, Julia La Rouche, was named after Julia in 1984. Aaron and Emily La Rouche stay in a hotel room in Lewis Bend, which is Room 101. Finally, the dedication page features the well known quote, "We'll meet again in a place where there is no darkness."
- In Matthew Reilly's 2011 book Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves the antagonist, Marius Calderon, references the rat torture used to threaten Winston in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
- Japanese author Haruki Murakami's book 1Q84 depicts the world of Japan in the year 1984 through the eyes of two main characters: a reporter and an aspiring writer.
- "The Bootleg Files: “1984″". Film Threat. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
- "Skinny Puppy - Video Samples from Movies & Official Bootleg Database". Skinnypuppy.eu. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
- "Skinny Puppy - Video Samples from Movies & Official Bootleg Database". Skinnypuppy.eu. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
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- "Dana De Young : Thoughts". Dana-deyoung.com. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
- The Butterfly and the Flame, by De Young, Dana published by iUniverse