‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ and Movie Totalitarianism: ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a movie about the future. It also happens to be a movie about a totalitarian state. So while we’re counting down before the release, it might be fun to view some other films about a jackbooted future.

Although there was also a 1956 film based on George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four — the novel that defined our thinking about the meaning of totalitarianism — a second British production was released during the year in question.

It was not simply the meta-ness of the release date that added resonance to this particular screen adaptation of the book. By the late 1970s, the high unemployment rate in the U.K. had set the stage for the conservative “rebellion” of Margaret Thatcher. Nestled within this social context, director Michael Radford’s rendering of Orwell’s dystopia felt a little less like science fiction and more like a meditation on 20th Century realpolitik.

Which is, of course, the best thing about good science fiction: it invariably turns out to be fact.