Paul Greengrass, best known for shaking the camera a lot in the Bourne movies, has been tapped to adapt George Orwell's classic novel 1984 for Sony Pictures to be produced by Scott Rudin.
In case you've lived in a cave Orwell's 1984 is the story of Winston Smith. Smith lives in Oceania, a state in perpetual war and under the regime of IngSoc, or English Socialism, led by the enigmatic Big Brother.
Surveillance is everywhere, with devices called "telescreens" monitoring your every move while bombarding you with propaganda about loving Big Brother, hating Emmanuel Goldstein, who both might not exist, and if you stray from the ruling party's line, whichever that might be, you will be taken to Room 101 by the Thought Police, and "corrected" until you loved Big Brother.
Smith works for the Ministry of Truth and it's his job to rewrite old newspaper articles so any future history will reflect the party line. He's chafing under the repressive regime that dictates his every thought and action and rebels, by falling in love with a girl named Julia.
The book had been adapted several times, but only two films were ever released to theatres. The one people remember was the fairly faithful adaption directed by Michael Radford with John Hurt as Smith, that was released, fittingly in 1984. Artists Shephard Fairey tried to make his own version in 2012, but the project fizzled out in development.
When I heard Greengrass was directing, the first thing I thought of was of Big Brother complaining that all the telescreens were shaking in all directions. But my misgivings go deeper than that.
1984 is a book that is still relevant even 30 years after it's science fiction date, but it's very easy to misinterpret.
Orwell was a socialist, which means that he desired a system where everyone was equal in all things, and worked solely for the betterment of mankind instead of personal greed.
However, Orwell was also an intellectually honest realist, he could see what was being done in the name of socialism all over the world. Pogroms, purges, massacres, and the casual mutilation of truth, which Orwell viewed as sacred, to fit the whims and factional schemes of the rulers. Orwell recognized that the fundamental flaw in any political system was that no matter what, ruthless people would constantly try to wrest control, and many times succeed. If ultimate and even intimate power was to be had, then the most ruthless people would claw their way to the top. That's why a die-hard socialist was able to write two of the most critical novels about socialism, 1984 and Animal Farm.
Hollywood's idea of a political scientist and philosopher is Russell Brand.
When it comes to political/economic/social issues, Hollywood is a blend of ignorance, hypocrisy, political correctness, and self righteousness. They seem to believe that saying the correct things counts more than doing the right things. In Hollywood it's perfectly okay to have a personal carbon footprint equal to a mid-sized European country, or a business operation as ethnically & gender diverse as a KKK meeting, as long as you give money to the correct causes, campaign for the correct politicians, and get your picture taken at the correct protests and fundraisers.
In Hollywood, it's all about image, and nothing to do with substance or accomplishment.
Which is why I'm pretty damn sure that Hollywood will butcher any adaptation of 1984. They'll probably turn Oceania in Oceania Inc., Big Brother into a CEO, and drain any true relevance from the work, because they lack the intellectual depth and honesty to admit that a non-capitalist system can possibly be evil and oppressive.
That and the camera will jerk around so much it'll make me motion sick.
So just let it rest Hollywood.