George Orwell (the pen name for Eric Arthur Blair) was born on June 25th, 1903. Few in history did more to warn the public about the dangers of totalitarianism. Several films based on Orwell’s works are available, including three versions of 1984, and two of Animal Farm (1,2).
The definitive film version of 1984 is the one released that very year, starring John Hurt. However, like the book, it’s not the most uplifting experience. It projects a world bleak in every aspect, thoroughly controlled, and impossible to escape — in other words late stage socialism as seen in the USSR, National Socialist Germany, North Korea, Maoist China, etc.
Ayn Rand once said it’s nearly impossible to explain to free people what it’s like to live under totalitarian socialism; they just can’t comprehend the state of perpetual fear and hopelessness. This film comes pretty close to getting it across, and it’s worth watching for that reason — free people need to know the stakes that are being played in current cultural and political battles. But expect it to be grim.
My favorite version of Orwell’s Animal Farm, and the film I would most recommend watching to celebrate his birthday, is the 1954 animated telling. It also which happens to be available for free on you tube in HD format.
George Orwell also equipped the world with useful phrases to describe and disparage the workings of totalitarianism: “Big Brother,” “thought crime,” etc. The one that has become particularly relevant in the age of Saul Alinksy, Antifa, and social media, is: “two minutes of hate.”
From 1984, describing two minutes of hate: “A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.”
Some current examples of two minutes of hate…