In this unremitting downer, writer-director Michael Radford introduces no touches of comedy or facile sensationalism to soften a harsh depiction of life under a totalitarian system as imagined by George Orwell in 1948.
Richard Burton is splendid as inner-party official O’Brien. Ironically, his swansong performance as the deceptively gentle spur to Winston Smith’s ‘thought-crimes’, and then as the all-knowing interrogator who takes on the attributes of a father-figure to the helpless man whom he is intent on destroying, is something new in Burton’s repertoire.
Also strong is Suzanna Hamilton as Julia who is the other agent of Smith’s downfall. John Hurt as Winston Smith holds center stage throughout.