Study Guide for Nineteen Eighty-Four (Michael Radford, 1984)
1. Examine the images in the archive footage shown in the opening moments of the film and discuss how these images prepare the audience for the story. How does the film present the people who watch the footage at the very beginning of the film?
2. Examine the following settings in the film and discuss how they all contribute to our understanding of the issues the film is dealing with: Winston’s apartment, Winston’s office, the cafeteria.
3. What do you think about the physical features of Winston? What could they signify?
4. Where does Winston work? What does his job involve? What is the significance of this in the story?
5. What is the significance of Winston’s diary? Why does he describe himself as a dead man in the early moments of the film?
6. Comment on the following quotes in relation to the concept of Newspeak: a) “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words”. b) “Doubleplus good.”
7. What is the significance of the Chestnut Tree Café in the film?
8. Who is Mr. Charrington? What does his antique shop mean to Winston?
9. What is the significance of Winston’s dream?
10. Comment on the Party’s perception of children in relation to the children’s song heard during Winston’s train journey before he met Julia: “We are the children / Builders of the future / And we the children swear to thee / Loyal emotion, fearless devotion / And to die with dignity”
11. What does the Golden Country where Winston and Julia secretly meet represent in the film? How does it differ from the earlier settings in the film?
12. Comment on Winston’s following words: “I hate purity. I hate goodness. I don’t want virtue to exist anywhere. I want everyone corrupt.”
13. Comment on the following quote from the film: “Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two equals four.”
14. What do Big Brother, O’Brien and Goldstein stand for in the story?
15. What is the function and significance of the Ministry of Love in the film? What is the significance of Room 101?
16. What are the definitions of “loyalty” and “betrayal” in the film? Identify quotes from the film and discuss these two concepts.
17. Identify the ways the media is used in Oceania and discuss its role. Can you think of any cases where mass media have been used in similar ways? Discuss when, where and how.
18. Study the concepts of “utopia” and “dystopia” and discuss Orwell’s vision of the future in relation to these two concepts.
19. Identify what “satire” means and in what ways “Nineteen Eighty-Four” can be called a satirical film.
20. Michael Bradford’s film is based on George Orwell’s novel. What message(s) do you think Orwell wanted to convey through such a novel?