Paul Greengrass eyes 1984 movie

British director attached to long-gestating Hollywood take on George Orwell’s dystopian classic

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Paul Greengrass looks set to direct a new big screen take on George Orwell’s classic dystopian science-fiction novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, reports Deadline.

Hollywood has been planning a fresh adaptation of the 1949 fable, which warned of the dangers of totalitarian government and spawned the term Big Brother, for a number of years. The latest version is being set up at studio Sony, which has hired screenwriter James Graham to work on the script. The latter is best known for writing the book for the upcoming musical adaptation of JM Barrie biopic Finding Neverland.

Set in a world where three warring superstates battle each other eternally without any hope of victory, Orwell’s 1949 novel has already had two big-screen adaptations. The best-known by far is Michael Radford’s critically acclaimed 1984 retelling, starring John Hurt as everyman Winston Smith, the restless party worker who dares to dream of independent thought and possible romance. Richard Burton, in his final role, played the nefarious O’Brien, with Suzanna Hamilton as Julia, the object of Smith’s doomed affections. An earlier 1956 version is these days hard to find, as it was withdrawn from circulation by Orwell’s estate, following the expiry of a distribution agreement.

Greengrass, the director of acclaimed modern day piracy thriller Captain Phillips and two of the best instalments in the Jason Bourne spy saga, looks a sound choice to take the helm. The British film-maker recently confirmed he will return to shoot another Bourne movie with Matt Damon reprising his role as the one-time amnesiac agent.

Nineteen Eighty-Four, should it move to the production stage, is likely to arrive in cinemas further down the line. Orwell’s terrifying vision of a future conducted under the watchful gaze of Big Brother could not be returning to centre stage at a more pertinent moment in history, given recent revelations over mass government surveillance by US intelligence agency the NSA and its UK equivalent, GCHQ.


Ben Child

The GuardianTramp

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