Nineteen Eighty-Four in Spain

Tim Robbins and The Actors’ Gang are putting on a fascinating-looking adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four in Barcelona. The production deliberately ties in with contemporary concerns about surveillance in the city, and in Spain and beyond. This production has already toured the USA, and you can find out more about it here.

Of course, this is far from the first adaptation of Orwell’s novel. Earlier this year, which is the 5oth anniversary of the publication of this seminal work, the UK’s National Media Museum put on a special version with John Hurt playing Winston Smith as he did in the 1984 cinema version, directed by Michael Radford (with its chilly soundtrack by The Eurythmics, which many regard as inappropriate but I really like!). The best version I have seen was done by Northern Stage in my old home city of Newcastle. This was a violent, uncompromising version (see this review in The Guardian) mixing live cinema and theatre. There was also the much earlier 1956 film directed by Michael Anderson and starring Edmond O’Brien, which shared with the climate in which the novel was written, the air of post-war ruin and privation (or at least its memory). Of course, one could regard Terry Gilliam’s Brazil as a riff off Nineteen Eighty-Four – but he’s never a director for a straight version!

(thanks to Aaron Martin for pointing me in the direction of the Barcelona production…)

Author: David

I'm David Murakami Wood. I live on Wolfe Island, in Ontario, and am Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Surveillance Studies and an Associate Professor at Queen's University, Kingston.

8 thoughts on “Nineteen Eighty-Four in Spain”

  1. You really should… it is a very darkly comic take on totalitarianism. It’s quite difficult to make surveillance funny as well as disturbing but ‘Brazil’ does it very well.

  2. Not to mention the surveillance camera players version in the NYC underground! Last week Bill Brown was here in Rio, and screened it at Oi Futuro Institute. I had already seen it at youtube, but it was very good meeting him personally ad exchanging ideas.

  3. I like what Brown and the SCP do a lot. But unfortunately, and for no reason I can fathom, it’s not mutual…

  4. I do not remember what I might have said concerning your work, but I do not doubt that it was negative.

    Take for example, your entry concerning the use of military technology to harass “protesters” at the recent G20.

    Other than your use of the tepid word “unwelcome,” your position on this outrage isn’t clear. But it should be: it should be denounced in no uncertain terms.

    If I do not care for your brand of “surveillance studies,” if it because of its muddled politics.

  5. Hi Bill,

    It should be clear that I frequently make use of irony and understatement. Perhaps this is an ‘English’ thing that doesn’t translate very well across cultures.

    Keep up the good work!

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