Noah Oppenheim To Adapt Orwell’s 1984

Deadline is reporting that Noah Oppenheim will be adapting a new version of George Orwell‘s classic novel 1984, which will be brought to us from Imagine Entertainment.

For those of you who are not familiar with the novel, it is a “cautionary tale about a totalitarian future society, and a man whose job it is to rewrite history [who] tries a bit of rebellion by falling in love, a move that runs afoul of Big Brother.”

You may recall that the novel was turned into a big screen film that actually came out in 1984, which starred John Hurt and Richard Burton (his last film). As far as getting the plot down, it did an ok job, but those who have read the novel will remember it more as one of ideas and atmosphere rather than plot. In this sense, I felt the Hurt version did not do as well as it could have, despite having some good performances from the leads.

The adaptation that really stood out for me was an old BBC version from 1954 which starred Peter Cushing in the lead role of Winston Smith. Not only did it do rather well with the plot, but it also did a much better job at conveying the ideas and atmosphere that are such a large part of Orwell’s novel.

Granted, this is an incredibly hard novel to adapt given that it’s basically all told from Winston’s point of view as he experiences everyday life under the reign of “Big Brother.” He spends a lot of the book simply telling us how things are and how they came to be that way, so you can probably understand how that would be difficult to bring to the screen, especially given how there’s not really that much of a plot.

Oppenheim has a few other projects on his plate including The Secret Life of Houdini, which will have Gary Ross directing, a remake of Daniel Espinosa’s Snabba Cash, as well as a remake of War Games. Whether his adaptation of 1984 ends up being good or so-so, I’m always interested to see how screenwriters tackle this material.

Here’s hoping it turns out well.