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Trivia / Nineteen Eighty-Four

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  • Acting for Two: In the 1954 BBC teleplay, the voice from the telescreen that sang the "Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree" song was voiced by Peter Cushing, who played Winston Smith.
  • Author Phobia: The Room 101 scene was inspired by Orwell’s personal fear of rats, and the name “Room 101” itself was inspired by a conference room where Orwell had to sit through boring meetings.
  • Backed by the Pentagon: The 1956 film was revealed to be backed by the CIA by a historian. This was reflected by the number of anti-Soviet propaganda elements that can be seen in that film, as well as its changes to the ending.
  • Banned in China: Banned in the Soviet Union.
  • Colbert Bump: While always a popular book, it gained much recognision after the NSA scandal in 2013, which sparked the "1984 was not an instruction manual" meme. Sales surged again after Kellyanne Conway's coining of the phrase "alternative facts" for blatant untruths.
  • Creator Backlash: Orwell wrote the book when he was ill with the TB that would eventually kill him, and in letters to friends he told them about the book he'd just finished, and made it clear that he didn't think it was very good. From a 15 Nov 1948 letter to his friend Anthony Powell:
    It's awful to think I've been mucking about with this book since June of 1947, and it's a ghastly mess now, a good idea ruined, but of course I was seriously ill for 7 or 8 months of the time.
  • Creator Cameo: In the 1984 film version, soundtrack composer Annie Lennox appears in a Two-Minutes Hate rally.
  • Disowned Adaptation: Not necessarily Orwell, but his wife (who holds the license for adaptations and so on after his death) made no secret of her disdain towards the 1956 film adaptation. Until her death in 1980, she actively rejected most offers for adaptations.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Olivia Wilde broke her tailbone, split her lip during previews for the 2017 Broadway run, which she stated as "immersing" into the play.
    • In the 1984 film version, in order to create the impression of feral starving rats in the Room 101 scene, electric wires were installed on Winston's facemask, and electric currents were jolted to 'shock' the rats to make them jump.
  • Executive Meddling: Virgin Films insisted that the 1984 version should be scored by Eurythmics in order to bring more audiences. Michael Radford was not happy with this, and as a result, withdrew the film from the BAFTAs in protest. The same reason also prompted Radford to change the originally bleak ending to a (slightly) more hopeful one. In the end, both the film and the soundtrack album was a success.
  • In Memoriam: The movie is dedicated to Richard Burton. The dedication during the closing credits states: "With love and admiration. Richard Burton 1925-1984."
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: The 1956 film adaptation never saw a home release, as Orwell's estate forbids any attempt for re-releases and renewal of rights (see above). A bootleg copy has been uploaded to Youtube, however, due to expiration of rights.
    • The 1984 film adaptation had two versions — one with the desaturated colors, and one with bright colors — the latter version had a DVD release in 2003. However, it is currently out of print and has never been re-released since.
  • Life Imitates Art:
    • The Democratic People's Republic of Korea seems to have taken many, many cues from Orwell. In a bad way. Christopher Hitchens, after his visit to North Korea, described it by saying "it was as if someone had taken 1984 and said 'Can you make it as much like this as possible?'" They have even gone as far as to build a giant pyramid building. And by law, North Korean libraries may not stock books older than fifteen years — the books must be re-edited and reprinted. Wonder where they got that idea.note 
    • There exists an actual political ideology known as 'National Bolshevism', whose aims include: a rigidly hierarchical society led by a small group of inner elites; the intentional stagnation of technology and culture; the creation of a totalitarian society featuring elements of Stalinism, Maoism, fascism, Nazism, and theocratic absolutism; war for the sake of destroying excess; mass murder and genocide for the sake of itself. Also, its followers wish to establish a superstate known as "Eurasia". Mercifully, it's only a small banned fringe party.
    • A decade after the book's publication, the Sino-Soviet split resulted in the Cold War turning into a three-way struggle where the third played was China. Interestingly, the real life Sino-American rapprochement in the Seventies (USA and China finding an agreement against Soviet Union) is the opposite of the events happening in the settings' geopolitics during the course of the novel (Oceania renouncing its alliance with Eastasia, and allying with Eurasia against the former).
  • Meaningful Release Date: The Film of the Book came out in 1984. According to Michael Radford himself, the location shooting for the 1984 film adaptation was done during the actual weeks given in Winston's diary for the events in question.
  • Production Posse: Maybe three is bit small to constitute a proper posse, but Michael Radford, Gregor Fisher, and Phyllis Logan had all previously worked together on Another Time, Another Place.
  • Reality Subtext: The 1984 film. Richard Burton was dying during filming, and it shows. Just compare how healthy-looking he was in his first scene and how withered and tired he looked in his final scene.
  • Science Marches On: Thankfully, it turns out that you simply cannot torture someone into believing something, and in fact they'll likely wind up far less receptive of your beliefs if anything, since they'll associate it with torturers like you.
    • The impossibility of nuclear annihilation is a major plot point (or perhaps not) as it allows the the three world powers to wage war with each other endlessly despite their semi-lobotomized state. According to Goldstein, a power would have to surround another with airbases (which is impossible) and launch volleys of nuclear bearing rockets from all side. Long range bombers made this plot point seem antiquated by 1955 and by 1965, the USSR and the USA both had wide numbers of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, achieving mutually assured destruction.
  • Trope Namer For:
  • Tuckerization: The names of the arrested alleged agents of Goldstein in the 1984 film version are named after the crews of the film.
  • Wag the Director: For the 1984 film, Richard Burton insisted that his wardrobe be created by Savile Row Tailors, despite his character (along with the rest of the cast) O'Brien wearing only Boiler Suits throughout this movie.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The novel was originally going to be set in the year 1948, but due to Executive Meddling, Orwell later shifted the setting into 1980 and 1982 before settling with 1984.
    • There was a planned feature adaptation in the 1970s, directed by Nicolas Roeg, written by Paul Mayersberg, and starring Donald Sutherland as Winston and Julie Christie as Julia. It fell apart when David Bowie, who was approached to co-star and provide a score for the film, insisted on turning it into a Rock Opera, at which point Orwell's widow pulled the plug.
      • According to The Criterion Collection interview with Michael Radford, the producers of the 1984 film version at one point approached David Bowie to score the film, only for Bowie to be fired when he told his plans for "organic music" for the film rather than a rock-and-roll soundtrack the producers wanted.
    • At various points; Hal Ashby, Francis Ford Coppola, Ridley Scott, and Miloš Forman were all approached to direct. Hugh Hudson wanted to direct in the late 1970s, but was turned down by the producers because he was an unknown at the time.
    • Michael Radford wanted to shoot the film adaptation in black-and-white, but the studio did not allow him. This prompted cinematographer Roger Deakins to use the bleach-bypass technique on the film to give it a color palette close to black-and-white.
    • Radford's first casting choice for O'Brien was Paul Scofield, but he had to drop after breaking his leg. Redford strongly opposed Burton's casting in his stead due to his poor health and trouble memorizing lines, but eventually came around on him. Other actors considered for the role were Alan Bates, Marlon Brando, Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins and Rod Steiger.
  • Write Who You Know:
    • Orwell's commander in the POUM, Georges Kopp (first mentioned in Homage to Catalonia), possibly inspired the character of O'Brien; see this biography excerpt.
    • Friends and colleagues of Orwell believe that his second wife, Sonia Orwell, is to be the model for Julia. Sonia's biographer suggests that a July 1946 essay about totalitarianism that Sonia had written was the possible inspiration of Julia.
  • Working Title: Orwell called it The Last Man in Europe in his early drafts. Doubles as a The Last Title example.