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what is this I don't even

Kristen Stewart’s Starring In a Romantic Remake of 1984, And Here’s Why It Might Not Suck As Much As You Think It Will


No, this is not a joke. The “YA dystopia for teenage girls” genre has come full circle and is sinking its teeth into 1984. Equals will be a “slightly updated version” of George Orwell‘s dystopian classic, with the main update being, according to its director, that “it’s about love in a world where love really doesn’t exist anymore.” Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult are starring. And I’m here to play devil’s advocate and say that it might not be the scourge upon humanity that you think it will be. Open your minds, my lovelies. But not too wide. Big Brother is watching.

First, the details: Equals is being directed by Drake Doremus, who helmed the 2011 indie hit Like CrazyMoon scribe Nathan Parker is writing, which bodes well, because Moon was an excellent movie. That doesn’t mean Equals will be good, necessarily. Doremus and Parker are both relatively new to the scene, and even filmmakers with proven track records aren’t exempt from putting out stinkers (ahem).

On the surface, Equals certainly looks like it will be one. Our buddy site Geekosystem has a great article on how the very concept of romanticizing 1984 is so very, very headache-inducing, but the TL;DR is this: 1984 does have a romance, between the government worker Winston Smith and the thoughtcriminal Julia (Geekosystem opines, and I agree, that Stewart should play Smith and Hoult the love interest), but said romance has a pretty damn bleak ending. And it’s not the focus of the story, which “is about how the government controls literally every aspect of its citizen’s lives using a combination of fear and brainwashing, not about how sad it is that people are afraid to looove each other.”

So, yes. Taking 1984 and turning it into a romance: WTF. And that brings me to my main reason Equals might not be as bad as you think it will be: Nothing could possibly suck that much.

No, hear me out.

A common refrain whenever there’s an announcement of a new remake, reboot, or sequel is “No one wants to see [insert movie here]!” But quite often that’s not true. Sure, you may want to think one one wants to see Battleship, but the fact is that stupid-sounding movies with brand recognition do tend to make bank. That’s particularly the case overseas, where big-budget Hollywood blockbusters translate better than, say, comedies or low-budget indies. Explosions are universal. Cultural norms and humor are not.

But no one—NO. ONE.—wants to see a romantic reimagining of 1984 starring Kristen Stewart. The very concept is an anathema. I will bet my left boob that 99% of you, upon reading that this movie is going to exist, reared back from your computer screens in horror. I’m not exempt from that: My original title for this article was “Is A Romantic 1984 Remake With Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult Better Or Worse Than Rats Eating Your Face?”

This isn’t some big-budget adaptation of a best-selling YA trilogy out to make money from all its fans on Tumblr. There’s no big studio funding this thing. It’s a passion project. Even Stewart realizes how insanely ambitious (or just plain insane) this movie is:

“I can’t believe I agreed to do it… I trust Drake’s process and I know we will do something really natural and real. But I told Drake, ‘Don’t expect that I am going to be able to do this. It’s too hard.’ But he wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I’ve given directors disclaimers before, but never this much.”

The lead actress looked at this movie and said “No, there’s no way this is going to work.” And they’re doing it anyway. That is ballsy.

Speaking of Stewart, she gets a lot of crap, particularly for the Twilight movies, where everyone had diddly squat to work with. But she can be a good actress. I’ve seen it with my own eyes: In Adventureland, where she played a character with severe emotional issues who has trouble opening up to others. It’s not that far off from a movie where the government squashes self-expression, even feeling. Stewart’s like Keanu Reeves: She doesn’t have the best range, but when you put her in a movie that’s within that range you can get something really good.

Maybe I’m being overly optimistic here. Hell, I probably am. “It can’t be that bad, right?” isn’t exactly the most compelling argument for something’s quality. (Incidentally, it’s the same reaction I had to Ben Affleck‘s Batman casting: It’s so counterintuitive that somebody at some point must have had a good reason for it. The movie will probably still suck, but that will be Snyder’s fault.) And plenty of passion projects end up being terrible. But for now I’m intrigued, because I’m a sucker for originality, and this movie is original, if only in the sheer level of batguano craziness it’s managed to achieve.

(via Geekosystem, Associated Press)

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  • Gordon Borland

    I’m still sad we never got the David Bowie musical adaptation.

  • Anonymous

    Casting Affleck as Batman isn’t counter-intuitive, it’s dumb. Casting Keaton as Batman was counter-intuitive.

  • http://runt.org/ Adrian

    Thanks for mentioning the face-chewing rats and for finding a way to tie this article back to Man of Steel 2/Batman vs. Superman/Justice League. It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who is constantly tortured by speculations on that movie piñata, rattling around in their head.

  • Thomas Hayes

    I’ve never actually seen a 1984 film despite really liking the book. Maybe it’ll be worth looking into. And at least it’s a story that hasn’t been rehashed in some time, or one they’re just dredging out again to try and start a huge multi-media franchise from based on name alone (looking at you Robocop, Terminator, Jurassic Park, Star Wars etc. etc.) so I’ll probably at least consider watching it.

  • Anonymous

    It’s funny, I was thinking exactly what you wrote comparing Keanu to Kristen. The sheer, naturally flat affect might really suit some roles. And I think you’re dead on: that role is the beaten-down, coglike Smith.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t show me the movie! Don’t show me the movie!

    SHOW IT TO JULIAAAAAA!

  • Alice Ruppert

    Tell me again how you’ve already seen the movie and know exactly what they’re going to do with it… *condescending Wonka*

    I’m not saying it will be good, but let’s just please wait with saying it can’t be. Don’t judge movies before you’ve seen them. Especially not before *anyone* has seen them.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, but Affleck has an established persona. We’re not going to see Batman as portrayed by an actor, we’re going to see Affleck in a Batman suit.

  • Anonymous

    You remind me of the Big Brother.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    “Sorry, but Affleck has an established persona. ”

    Thus the “counterintuitive.”

    “We’re not going to see Batman as portrayed by an actor, we’re going to see Affleck in a Batman suit.”

    Like Alice said: *You haven’t seen the movie. You don’t know.*

  • Anonymous

    But the established persona isn’t counter-intuitive to the character. I don’t doubt that he’ll be able to portray “Batman”, but this is Batman not Daredevil. It’s just going to be “Ben Affleck? Why are you dressed up like Batman?”

    I haven’t seen the movie? I know what Batman is, thank you very much.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Talk to me once we’ve seen even a smidge of what he does with the character.

  • Gordon Borland

    What Big Brother ?

  • Anonymous

    That doesn’t matter, he can play the perfect Batman, but it’s still going to be Affleck playing Batman. He brings his own persona along with him.

  • Jeff

    I don’t know…I’m probably incredibly biased considering this is in my top three favorite books…but I think this is going to be just terrible. I feel like this is a classic example of what Hollywood is constantly doing to literature- it’s essentially dumbing it down and obscuring the message of the story.

    1984 is not about “love in a world where love doesn’t exist anymore” or at least not anymore than in any of the great dystopias: Brave New World, Handmaid’s Tale, We- they all have an absence of love in some capacity. But that is far from the point of any of those books. 1984 is about how fears are used to control, oppress, and ultimately defeat humanity, not about an ‘absence of love’.

    I’m normally pretty optimistic when it comes to potential projects, but this I just can’t support…why did it have to be 1984? Why not a new dystopia? Rather than leech off of a classic, why didn’t they just come up with their own?

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Again: TALK TO ME AFTER WE’VE SEEN THE MOVIE. Plenty of actors bring their own “persona” along with them. They’re still actors.

  • Anonymous

    :/ not sure tbh

  • Anonymous

    Again: Nobody needs to see the movie. There are no relevant unknowns here. Everybody already knows Batman , everybody already knows Affleck. Bringing along a professional persona to a character that has it’s own established identity is a bad move. Imdb has Affleck at 55 roles in finished movies, he’s played some variation of “Ben Affleck” in every single one. Every, single, one. <-This is hyperbole so don't bring up one or two exceptions to try to make a point.

  • Anonymous

    “Ben Affleck” is the guy that works at the Fasionable Male. In Mallrats he was played as an a-hole. InChasing Amy he was a weiner. In Daredevil he was a blind lawyer/superhero. In Argo he worked for the CIA…

  • frankenmouse

    Just wondering: Why are you so adamant about this? Did Ben Affleck run over your dog at some point? Spit in your Thai food? Trip you in the hall and then laugh when your books went flying?

  • Anonymous

    I’m a fan of the John Hurt version & have heard good things of the BBC version with Peter Cushing.

  • Anonymous

    Nah you just misunderstood, he plays the same guy with different jobs/plot responsibilities.

  • Anonymous

    Michael Keaton had a reputation for only being a comedic actor before being cast as Batman. WB got thousands of fan letters protesting this casting. He turned out fine. Max Shreck’s line “And Bruce Wayne, why are you dressed up like Batman?” in Returns is one step removed from “Why is Michael Keaton dressed up as Batman?”

  • prelapsarian

    Isn’t that what We is about?

  • Anonymous

    The Big Brother with the power.

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t said a single bad thing about Affleck.

  • Anonymous

    My 1984 Cast
    Martin Freeman as Winston Smith
    Julianne Nicholson as Julia
    Brendan Gleeson as O’Brien
    Don Warrington as Mr. Charrington
    Rob James-Collier as Symes
    Ricky Gervais as Parsons
    Raymond Shaw as Big Brother
    Henry Dean Stanton as Emmanuel Goldstein

  • Gordon Borland

    What power ?

  • Anonymous

    Michael Keaton was a comedic actor, but he really hadn’t established any kind of leading man persona. That’s why I said that that casting was counter-intuitive. Ben Affleck already has an established persona, much like Wayne, that everyone recognizes, that’s why I used the same quote you did.

  • Anonymous

    I actually… really want to see this. I certainly think there’s a good chance it will be awful, but if it hits the bar it’s aiming for… yeah. I want to see this movie.

    Agreed on Kristen Stewart’s acting ability and range – she was, in fact, quite good in Adventureland. Make fun of actors who play themselves in every role all you like (Harrison Ford, anyone?); it works out really, really well when they’re cast appropriately and the material’s good.

  • Robert Vary

    The power to obliterate you from history.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, I love a good boy-meets-totalitarian-regime story.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, but no thanks! I stick with the John Hurt-Richard Burton-version!

    In anyway, what ever they do: In the end love, hope and the wish to live must be extinguished. Because there’s nothing more the protagonists can attach themself on any more. Do you really believe American film makers can ever make a movie so dark? No happy ending, no love, no hope? I don’t think they are able to.

  • Cellism

    Disclaimer: I really liked Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett in The Runaways. She carried the mullet remarkably well.

  • Alexa

    You should also check out a movie called Speak with Stewart, now there she had a lot to work with and she was great. But I think the concept is a bit iffy here, I mean its kind of missing the point, and while I loved Moon one cannot guarantee that the writer will do well. *shrugs*

  • Alissa Knyazeva

    I don’t understand why everyone is freaking out so much. They’re not calling it 1984, and in and of itself, the “dystopian government that watches your every move” is a very, VERY common trope in sci-fi these days.

    They’re basically just cashing in on that trope, and using some 1984 names/concepts. And, you know what? If they pull it off well (read: clever marketing at the general population), I bet you it will make the bank. Everyone wants some troubled romance and feeling vindicated in their own victimization by the Big Bad Top Dog.

    So… I don’t care. I might even watch it if the reviews roll in saying it’s good.

  • Anonymous

    “Stewart’s like Keanu Reeves: She doesn’t have the best range, but when you put her in a movie that’s within that range you can get something really good.”

    THIS. I might be in the minority, but the girl won my friendship in Speak and then again in Adventureland. I think what she really needs to do her best to avoid getting typecast and find a director who will push her acting limits. All she plays are angsty girls, some of whom were awesome, others who were boring. I feel like she probably does have a wider range but she hasn’t chosen a part to showcase it yet, so all we see is her playing the same moody chick over and over.

  • Anonymous

    Check her out as Joan Jett in Runaways.

  • Anonymous

    Not to mention the leather pants. Maybe it’s just my contrarian streak talking, but…the girl is hot!

  • Anonymous

    You haven’t quite convinced me that this will be anything but sucky you’ve at least made me interested enough not just to react with ‘ugh’. I’ll pay attention to further news of this one.

    With dystopia beign so in, it was only a matter of time before 1984 got greenlit. And I’m not against adapting Orwell’s story to make a range of points.

    I think the problem with the film’s concept – and this is the case with a lot of dystopian YA fiction right now – is that the central idea (as they’ve re-imagined it) is meaningless. It has all the trappings of a hard-hitting film making us question our values, but actually revolves around an idea without teeth.

    With the book, the idea of a totalitarian government is not only plausible, it’s a concept proven by history. Orwell’s world is frightening because it’s realistic.

    But ‘a world where people are afraid to love’? We are not at risk of ever becoming that society. It;s alien to human nature; that’s why though history is full of societies with caste systems and prejudices and violence and any other evil that’s consistent with human nature, there has never been a society where romantic love doesn’t exist. It’s not A Thing.

    An extreme example of the meaningless dystopia is the Divergent books: it looks like a dystopia, it sounds like a dystopia. but the book has literally nothing interesting to say because there is never going to be a point where a society decides to divide along the means Veronica Roth describes. This isn’t a lack of imagination on my part, I think, it’s the fact that Roth has failed to write about actual humans and human society.

    (That’s why the world of the Hunger Games, for all its patchy world
    building is in another league to that of Divergent: its dystopia is
    informed by actual real life. The idea of reality TV and violence
    combining is not only plausible, it’s been proved by history many times
    that people have a capacity for this kind of voyeurism, most obviously
    in Roman Gladiatorial contests.)

    In the context of Divergent, it doesn’t much matter. What worries me slightly is when a text as politically important as 1984 is rebranded as something harmless. But making it about the banning of human love, and a rebellion against that, the filmmakers retain the trappings of political science fiction without actually having to say anything challenging. The idea that ‘love is good’ is apolitical.

  • Anonymous

    “leech off of a classic”… bingo. People do tend to flock to established stories and they also like to share their opinions. Look! Were doing both!

  • Katy

    I would have been more won over if the title was “Emma Watson’s starring in a romantic remake of 1984…” Every movie I see Kirsten Stewart, even ones a I really enjoy, I always think that it would have been better with Emma Watson. I really liked Snow White and the Huntsman, but I would have loved the movie if it starred Emma Watson. Still I am intrigued on how they are going to turn 1984 into a romance.

  • Dave

    Yeah, I have a lot more respect for a production that straight-up tells you it’s only loosely based on the source material, as opposed to one that implies it’s a close adaptation and isn’t. They’re being upfront about the changes and it has a different name, so it’s not like they’re trying to trick fans of the book (or other movies I guess) into seeing it.

    Also, it tickles me that this is essentially big budget 1984 fanfic. Heh.

  • Amanda Pursell

    They license this but they wouldn’t let David Bowie make it into a musical?

  • Heather Lynn

    I hated Speak for the sheer fact that they ruined the ending. The book was so perfect (still one of my top 10 favorite books EVER) and the movie just diluted it to the point of ineffectiveness.

  • Skol Troll

    The best debaters end their statements by stating they cannot be debated. Plus, it totally saves us time.

  • Skol Troll

    Wait, Ben Affleck is playing Batman in a remake of 1984? Will there be a Gotham festival celebration that gets invaded by Joker? Wait, that’s from 1989.

    I’m so confused.

  • Alexa

    Well its been awhile since I’ve read the book, but yeah the whole confrontation she has with the guy is pretty contrived, don’t remember that happening in the book. But I can’t say that I hated it, because they did a good job in other areas such as casting, pacing, and editing, and again Kristen Stewart did a good job as Melinda. Plus I love the scene where she shows her art teacher, played so well by Steve Zahn, her secret room full of her art pieces, it was just so poignant and warm. Plus its just way better adaptation then most, in some respects, for a way better book.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/scarletsherlock scarletsherlock

    It is wonderful. One of Cushing’s best, and sadly, least-seen, roles.

  • Delphi Psmith

    “…with the main update being, according to its director, that “it’s about
    love in a world where love really doesn’t exist anymore.”

    Um, they do realize that the story already HAS this, right? So in what world is this an update? Yeesh.

    Kristen Stewart reminds me of Dorothy Parker’s quip about Katherine Hepburn: “She ran the whole gamut of emotions from A to B.” I foresee this getting lots of Rotten Tomatoes.

  • Delphi Psmith

    LOLOL! Best comment ever :D

  • Delphi Psmith

    This does not mean she can act, however.

  • Anonymous

    You, my friend, need to rethink your priorities.

  • Delphi Psmith

    It’s not so much a matter of priorities as rarity value. There are lots of pretty faces out there. Very few can actually act :)

  • Caravelle

    And it’s not the focus of the story, which “is about how the government
    controls literally every aspect of its citizen’s lives using a
    combination of fear and brainwashing, not about how sad it is that
    people are afraid to looove each other.”

    Um… It’s about both. Or have you forgotten that the climax of the story, the moment when Winston is finally, completely broken, is when they destroy his and Julia’s love for each other ? Love and romance are, if not THE point, at least a VERY IMPORTANT point of the story, that point being that the government controls every aspect of its citizen’s live including their ability to love each other, which is something that’s traditionally been thought to be the most personal and uncontrollable things humans can do.

    Winston and Julia’s rebellion flourishes along with their relationship, and Winston explicitly relates the two – their love (and sex), to him, IS an expression of their rebellion, and the one thing that whatever happens, the state can’t take away from them.

    And then it does.

    So, yeah, making 1984 into a love story seems to me like a more shrewd reading of the book than the shock people apparently seem to feel at the idea, and “it’s about love in a world where love really doesn’t exist anymore” is pretty in line with what the book does.

    It’s true that sentence sounds a lot like love triumphing in a world where love doesn’t really exist anymore… Which I agree would be catastrophic.

  • Caravelle

    Have you read 1984 ?

    Orwell’s portrayal of totalitarian government in that book is a lot more extreme than you seem to give it credit for.

    All those societies with caste systems and prejudice and violence you refer to did try to control romantic love between individuals to various extents even if they never succeeded in eliminating it. Just like many societies have tried to control language and history without ever reaching the extremes found in 1984, which makes sense since linguists will tell you said extremes are also against human nature.

  • Ben English

    It does not mean she can’t. Her performance in Twilight is pretty much spot-on for Bella Swan. It’s not Stewart’s fault the character is horrible.

  • Ben English

    People said similar things about Anne Hathaway as Catwoman and Heath Ledger as the Joker, and they turned out far better than their Burton counterparts.

  • Delphi Psmith

    Perhaps (I admit I thought the books were awful, too). But I’ve seen her in a couple of other things, in which I found her performance equally lackluster and lacking in subtlety.

  • Cellism

    Let me rephrase, I felt she acted very well in the Runaways. I also appreciated her acting in Adventureland. (I also think she’s vaguely autistic but that’s neither here nor there.)

  • Anonymous

    Comments which start ‘have you actually read (text in question)’ … sigh.

    Yes, of course I’ve read 1984. My having an opinion which doesn’t match yours is not a sign that I can’t possibly have read it.

    How can you say Orwell’s totalitarian goverment is more extreme than I give it credit for? At no point did I voice ANY opinion about what the government of the novel was like. The government in the book is obviously extremely totalitarian. I think we can all agree on that.

    And yes, I understand that romantic and sexual relationships are something that have been oppressed and controlled by political regimes.

    I guess you have a point that this kind of SF works through exaggeration or logical extremes of real-life stuff. So the fact that in the movie love has been obliterated entirely (until our pretty young all-white hetero leads get it on, of course) could be an extrapolation of that fact that in real-life regimes, romantic relationships are forcibly kept within certain parameters.

    Perhaps at the heart of my objection is the idea that it IS pretty young white, heterosexual people who are proving that love shouldn’t be oppressed. It feels like another example where stories of oppression are played out by people who would never in real life suffer that oppression (see X-Men, The Hunger Games etc). Now if the leads were non-straight brown-skinned people I might feel differently because that is directly relatable to real struggles we see in real life.

    I mean, if its anything like the book, the film should be commenting on our own Western society, and do you think its a point worth making that (white, heterosexual) love should be allowed to flourish? It’s not something that’s under threat. It’s celebrated at every turn. So what’s the take-away message from a film where such a couple triumph against oppression the film has conjured up?

    The idea has no teeth as a political SF conceit because there is nothing challenging in its story. Our society is already completely on-board with that notion. We already venerate romantic love. It’s like making a film where the bad guys kick puppies to death until someone stands up and says, ‘hey, that’s wrong!’, and the wrongness of puppy-kicking in the central conceit of the film. No one is on the other side of that debate.

    (Funnily enough I AM a linguist (studied English Language and communication at KCL, so yep, you’re right about the idea that many people feel there is a secret or unintended note of hope in 1984: human language acquisition cannot be controlled as is suggested in the novel. Within a single generation, NewSpeak would be as capable of expressing meaning and dissent as English ever was).

  • Amourah

    Well. The 1984 movie starring John Hurt is pretty bad. So I suppose this generation gets to experience an updated (See: bad) 1984 movie too! Hurray! Nobody wins :D

  • Not Impressed

    I’m not particularly interested in the movie itself, but if Kristen Stewart is going to be in it that’s enough to get me to the theater.

  • Anonymous

    I just saw it on YouTube. It’s doubleplusgood!

  • Caravelle

    I didn’t start my comment with “actually”. I wasn’t sure whether you’d read 1984 or not from your comment and I wouldn’t have thought less of you if you hadn’t; it’s such a cultural touchstone I think one can comment on it intelligently from cultural osmosis alone. Or possibly-half-remembered memories of having read it over a decade ago, as with me. But I can’t fault you for being mad.

    How can you say Orwell’s totalitarian goverment is more extreme than I give it credit for? At no point did I voice ANY opinion about what the government of the novel was like.

    I was reacting to these sentences : “With the book, the idea of a totalitarian government is not only plausible, it’s a concept proven by history. Orwell’s world is frightening because it’s realistic.”

    As I said in another comment to this post, Orwell’s totalitarian government DOES try to eliminate or at least suppress romantic love to the point where Winston and Julia’s love affair feels like a huge rebellion to both of them, and where one point of their torture is to destroy that love. I found it surprising that you would talk about Orwell’s totalitarian government as being realistic on the one hand (even though it includes Newspeak) while contrasting it with the absurdity of a government that eliminates romantic love, even though that’s an element of Orwell’s totalitarian government too.

    I don’t disagree with any of the issues you have with how you expect the movie to turn out, nor do I disagree that it’s likely to turn out that way. I’d like to think that it could be about how effectively totalitarian governments can destroy even romantic love, like the book, but that’s so dark that, well, probably not. As for whether the idea has teeth, well, did it have teeth in the book ? I remember being a bit annoyed at the whole romantic subplot but I might have been At That Age. Winston and Julia do display all the entitlement you describe (IIRC). It’s all revealed as self-aggrandizing wishful thinking at the end but I don’t know how much it makes up for what came before. I do think exploring how a totalitarian regime makes love more difficult or even impossible is an interesting thing to do, especially for a culture that venerates romantic love and thinks it’s all-powerful. Whether this movie can do it, or even wants to do it, is another question entirely.

    I really don’t think I’m mis-remembering the book here (if I did I wouldn’t be talking about it this way). If I am I’d be glad to be corrected though.

  • Anonymous

    Apologies, I misinterpreted the start of your comment! Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

    ‘I was reacting to these sentences : “With the book, the idea of a
    totalitarian government is not only plausible, it’s a concept proven by
    history. Orwell’s world is frightening because it’s realistic.”‘

    Ah, I see. I phrased that badly then, I didn’t mean that Orwell’s world resembled real-world examples – Airstrip One is probably more oppressive than even the worst real-life regime has ever been. I meant that this type of society is proven by real-life examples.

    If this is a movie where romantic love is verboten until two kids fall in love and thus rebel… it’s taking a deeply inoffensive/conservative idea and dressing it up in the clothes of Orwell’s left-wing, challenging warning. His novel didn’t have anything so comforting at its heart: halfway through the book we might think Winston and Julia’s connection will challenge the state but by the end we realise that every human dignity – including love – is perverted by a society like this. If Winston and Julia had triumphed in any way (either personal escaping Airstrip One, or by toppling the regime together), if they had been allowed even to die still believing in the resillience of their love, the book would lose all power.

    The sentiment which this film risks promoting is: ‘love conqueers all’ or ‘love will overcome hate’. Those are innocuous, even positive, ideas. And that’s kind of its problem for me. Dystopias – and particularly 1984 – are meant to make us feel uncomfortable and challenged, not give us comforting sentiments like that.

    You’re right, of course, that there’s no use judging the thing till its out, and that it may surprise us. And I’m glad they’re not branding this 1984.

  • Anonymous

    Yep, I skim-read the sequels for that reason: I admit that the revelations of the final book make some sense of the earlier stuff.

    Without wishing to spoil for others, I disagree that this revelation forgives all mistakes. Perhaps structured differently this could have made interesting material, but the bulk of the trilogy is, for my money, fatally weakened, by holding that key information to serve as a big surprise. Twists are great, but when keeping information from your readers that would allow them to make sense of your story and world, there’s a problem. Any thought Roth wanted to provoke in her readers is undermined by the fact we’re not told what the issue at stake actually is until late on.

  • Anonymous

    Ah, well, that’s the basis of our differing opinions then: I myself find reading more enjoyable when I subject what I read to critique and analysis.

    Sorry if my comments about Divergent stung you, I wouldn’t wish to diminish any fan’s appreciation of the books whatever my own opinion on them.