“Big Brother is Watching You,” wrote George Orwell in his eternal novel “1984.” If only the author had lived to see “CITIZENFOUR.”
As the age of NSA snooping comes into the light, Orwell”s dystopian novel remains as pertinent as ever (this month, an Egyptian college student was arrested while carrying a copy of the novel, a move many reporters saw as a moment of life-imitating-art). Sony Pictures agrees: The studio has setup a new adaptation of the film with the project-hoarding Paul Greengrass attached to direct. Scott Rudin and Gina Rosenblum will produce the project, Deadline reports.
“1984” follows the lead character Winston Smith as he rebels against the hellish bureaucracy of Airstrip One. Overpowering its citizens with surveillance, manipulation, propaganda, and legal action – any independent thinking is consider a “thoughtcrime” – the dream-prone Winston slips away from the oppressive government to encounter romance and freedom, paying the price when Big Brother catches him in the act. Lines like “power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing” just make you want to keel over and call it a day.
Greengrass is a busy man. He recently boarded a developing adaptation of Greg Mitchell”s Berlin Wall drama “The Tunnels.” He”s been working with Rudin on a Martin Luther King Jr. biopic “Memphis.” He”s poised to return to the “Bourne” franchise with Matt Damon in tow. Greengrass could jump to “1984” when it”s an actual script – reports indicate that the producers have hired James Graham (“X+Y” and the “Finding Neverland” musical) to pen the script.
1984 was previously adapted by writer-director Michael Radford. And it”s pretty darn good! John Hurt stars as Winston, vulnerable and expressive, and the production design is enough to give you the willies. Will Greengrass” version compare? Will it modernize and rejigger to evoke our own “1984”-isms? Or will it look a lot like Radford”s film, but with shakier camera work?