Similar Issues in 1984 by George Orwell and the Film - Equilibrium by Kurt Wimmer

Published: 2021-09-13 15:40:11
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Dystopia, a subjective nightmarish view of the future world, characterised by oppression and human misery, is the focus of the texts 1984 written by George Orwell and Equilibrium directed by Kurt Wimmer. In Orwell's dystopia, a totalitarian government, known as the Party, reigns over Oceania where it controls every aspect of life including people's thoughts. Winston Smith, the protagonist, secretly hates the Party and begins to conspire against it through various political acts. Derived from Orwell's 1984 plot, Wimmer's Equilibrium also weaves a story where the protagonist, John Preston, stumbles upon humanity in a totalitarian state in which emotions are suppressed by a drug and begins to challenge the system conspire against it. By incorporating a totalitarian government, similar protagonists and the extinction of intimate relationships into his own dystopia, Kurt Wimmer has kept the key issues of George Orwell's 1984 alive in the film Equilibrium.

A government which reigns over its people by controlling every aspect of their lives including their thoughts and emotions and requires complete subservience, is one of the common key issues found in Orwell's 1984 and kept alive in Wimmer's Equilibrium. In 1984, Orwell demonstrated that a totalitarian regime results in a lack of personal rights and freedoms and absolute government control and suppression. The Party achieves this by eliminating any possibilities of rebellion and controls their people by suppressing their thoughts through language control. Newspeak is the official language of Oceania and is 'devised to meet the ideological needs' of English Socialism, otherwise known as Ingsoc. The vocabulary of Newspeak is constructed to give an exact expression to a word whilst extinguishing any undesirable words and any subsidiary meanings. By doing so, it limits the ideas and thoughts individuals are capable to formulate and express. Thus no one will be able conceptualise anything that might question the Party's absolute power. Similarly, in Wimmer's Equilibrium, Libria is governed by a totalitarian state where the cure to a disease with 'symptoms' of hate, anger, rage and war has been found. The cure, Prozium, is a drug used to suppress emotions and results in standardise responses and behaviours of individuals. Therefore, there is little or no chance of rebellion. The drug, Prozium, reflects the film's context, instead of controlling their thoughts through language, Wimmer has created a drug to control emotions referencing to the twenty-first society where sharp fluctuations in emotions have lead to mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety becoming prominent. Orwell has created this totalitarian government in response to the society of the Stalin-era Soviet Union whilst Equilibrium was composed in response to the emergence of terrorism, 9/11 and the War on Terror, reflecting a modern context. As a result, Wimmer has adapted the key issue in Orwell's 1984 into a realistic world for the responders of the twenty-first century. From both texts, responders can conclude the totalitarian government is threatened by the freedom of opinions, feelings and thoughts.

The protagonists of 1984 and Equilibrium are symbols of rebellion against the conventions they are bound by and the beliefs of the government. In both texts, materials that could provoke challenges and protest against the state were banned or destroyed. Winston Smith, the protagonist of 1984, showed the first signs of rebellion when he starts developing critical thoughts and writing them down in a notebook. Although this was illegal and Winston admits 'if detected it was reasonably certain that it would be punished by death, or at least twenty-five years in a forced-labour camp', he still adds to it daily and does not try to get rid of it. Since the Party controls the past to justify its actions in the present, by keeping his own records of the real, unaltered past, Winston is challenging the Party as well as testing its powers. During his second visit to the junk shop where he had bought the notebook, Winston bought a coral paperweight as 'the air it seemed to possess of belonging to an age quite different from the present one'. The coral paperweight is the symbol of the past and symbolically the paperweight shatters when Winston and Julia are arrested by the Thought Police. The shattering of the paperweight represents

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