This month, 36 years ago, the Michael Radford-directed, Virgin-produced film version of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four was released. It starred John Hurt, Richard Burton (in his last screen appearance) and Suzanna Hamilton. It's an inevitably bleak experience with a look somewhere between B&W and colour using a process called 'bleach bypass, and storyline faithful to Orwell's original. The music was a compromise between Radford's choice of Dominic Muldowney's orchestral score and Virgin's preference for a more contemporary, synth-poppy soundtrack, provided by Eurythmics with the former edging it in the final version. The Eurythmics version was released as an album the following month.
The film was shot in and around London in the early summer and shares a number of shooting locations with Terry Gilliam's Brazil which was being filmed at the same time. Indeed, the latter was originally going to be called 1984½ but he changed his mind when Radford's film came out. The two films share a similar dystopian view of the world from the viewpoint of its two central, low-ranking civil servant protagonists battling against the grey, monolithic system. Gilliam's is frankly more watchable, thanks to his extraordinary set designs, fantasy sequences and humour. Radford's is unremittingly bleak.
Back to the shared locations... I used to love exploring east London's docklands which in those times had largely been abandoned by industry but was pre-gentrification. I used to sneak into Beckton Gas Works, a massive disused granary in Silvertown and other crumbling edifices. Me and scores of film directors and video makers. The granary became Brazil's 'Shangri-la Towers' which I only discovered when we broke in to shoot some publicity photos for my group, Pump.