It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. When fake news is dictated by alternative facts and President Donald Trump tweets his own brand of newspeak jargon, like bigly, it’s time to call in the thought police. If only to make sure there are any going in to it. Well, on a bright cold day in April, when the clocks strike thirteen, 90 independent theaters will counter the memes of two-minute hate with showings of 1984.
Begun under a coordinated effort by the Art House Convergence and United State of Cinema organizations, 90 independent movie theaters (79 cities in 34 American states, including three theaters in Canada) will screen Michael Radford’s 1984 film adaptation of George Orwell 1949 novel 1984 on April 4. The United States of Cinema picked the date because that was the day Winston Smith, played by John Hurt in the film, started his diary.
The movie didn’t make a lot of money when it first came out. It only grossed $8 million in its initial run, so it could be classified as a loser, but that’s just a lot of doublethink. Nearly 200,000 copies of the book 1984 have been sold since Election Day.
“When you think about threats to democracy, threats to personal liberty, 1984 is one of those key texts that you refer to,” UCLA Film and TV Archive programmer Paul Malcolm, said in a statement encouraging “theaters to take a stand for our most basic values: freedom of speech, respect for our fellow human beings, and the simple truth that there are no such things as ‘alternative facts.'”
If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever and the first face underfoot the National Endowment for the Arts.
“Thematically, the event was structured around bringing an awareness to, specifically, the threat and challenges the Trump administration presents to NEA and NEH funding,” Malcolm said in a statement.
The Art House Convergence began as a small exhibitor gathering at the Sundance Film Festival and now is a growing force in independent cinema. The film will screen at the Billy Wilder theater at the Hammer Museum, which houses UCLA’s Film & TV archive, and the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre in West Hollywood.
“The first email went out in February,” Paul Malcolm, programmer for the UCLA Film & TV Archive, told The Hollywood Reporter of plans to screen the film. “One of the things that we did was check our collection to see if we had a print here. [We] found out that we had a 35 mm print of 1984, which just made it that much more interesting for us to participate.”
The theaters will donate a some of the proceeds to local charities. Moviegoers at some theaters are asked to donate to the American Civil Liberties Union.
In 1984, England is called Airstrip One and is ruled by the Inner Party. Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth, which is more than a misnomer. He does his job very well, because Big Brother is watching. Smith won’t even share a coworker’s appreciation of the newspeak language they are creating.
“I think George Orwell and the book itself are so emblematic and iconic of the dangers a dictatorship could pose. When you think about threats to democracy, threats to personal liberty, 1984 is one of those key texts that you refer to in order to describe what that threat even is,” Malcolm said.
Michael Anderson first adapted 1984 to film in 1956. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment had an adaptation planned in 2012. Orwell’s 1984 will also be adapted into a Broadway show this June.
Oh and David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs album began as a vinyl interpretation of the book.