Orwell's 1984 (study guide for film)


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Background and questions to consider while watching the film

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ENGENG07 1984


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ENGENG07 1984 Background and questions to consider while watching the film. Read this instruction carefully BEFORE you watch the film. The Author, Orwell 1984 is one of Orwell’s best-crafted novels, and it remains one of the most powerful warnings ever issued against the dangers of a totalitarian society. In Spain, Germany, and the Soviet Union, Orwell had witnessed the danger of absolute political authority in an age of advanced technology. He illustrated that peril harshly in 1984. Like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), 1984 is one of the most famous novels of the negative utopian, or dystopian, genre. Unlike a utopian novel, in which the writer aims to portray the perfect human society, a novel of negative utopia does the exact opposite: it shows the worst human society imaginable, in an effort to convince readers to avoid any path that might lead toward such societal degradation. In 1949, at the dawn of the nuclear age and before the television had become a fixture in the family home, Orwell’s vision of a post-atomic dictatorship in which every individual would be monitored ceaselessly by means of the telescreen seemed terrifyingly possible. That Orwell postulated such a society a mere thirty-five years into the future compounded this fear (Sparknotes 1984 http:// www.sparknotes.com/lit/1984/) The story (or plot) Winston Smith is a low-ranking member of the ruling Party in London, in the nation of Oceania. Everywhere Winston goes, even his own home, the Party watches him through telescreens; everywhere he looks he sees the face of the Party’s seemingly omniscient leader, a figure known only as Big Brother. The Party controls everything in Oceania, even the people’s history and language. Currently, the Party is forcing the implementation of an invented language called Newspeak, which attempts to prevent political rebellion by eliminating all words related to it. Even thinking rebellious thoughts is illegal. Such thoughtcrime is, in fact, the worst of all crimes. (Sparknotes 1984 http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/ Teachers: Henrika Florén & Marie Erenius Bergqvist spring 2017


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ENGENG07 The main characters Winston Julia O’Brian Themes The Dangers of Totalitarianism Psychological Manipulation Physical control Control of information and history Technology Language as mind control Motifs doublethink urban decay Symbols Big brother The Glass paperweight and St Clement’s Church The place where there is no darkness The telescreens Free Art License (Copyright © Frederic Guimont) Original text was: rilasciata sotto Free Art license. Teachers: Henrika Florén & Marie Erenius Bergqvist spring 2017


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ENGENG07 Questions to consider while you watch (Take notes) What is most significant about Winton’s, Julia’s and O’Brains characters? How do you react to the starting scene and the phrase ”Who controls the past controls the future”? What is this communal mass outpouring of emotion at the start of the film? What is the role of Newspeak? What is the role of censoring? What is thought crime? Waht is sex crime? What is the function of the hidden diary in the story? Does it symbolize anything? What is the significance of (the sign of) the ’crossed arms’? What is room 101? What or who is Big Brother? Is he/it a real person? What is the role of war? In this film? How is technology used by the party? Winston lives in Oceania, what is the rest of the world like? What is the function of the symbols Winston’s paperweight, the St. Clement’s Church picture and the red armed woman and the “the place where there is no darkness.” Winston’s public confession. Does he believe what he is saying? Is he a broken man? And what about the relationship between Jula and Winston, how would you describe its different stages? An most important, what is the role of language? (double think, newspeak) Take note, as 1984 unfolds, of how the themes, symbols, characters and messages relate to and can be compared to your reading of Fahrenheit 451, and the more encompassing themes of utopia & dystopia, and power & rhetorics, which are permeating both stories (novels). Teachers: Henrika Florén & Marie Erenius Bergqvist spring 2017



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