Cinematography includes; background sound, lighting and the camera’s focus. The set design including the props used to create Orwell’s image of Oceania are superb. It recreates a devasted image of Europe after the Second World War. Nothing seems to work in the world of 1984. There is decay and deprivation in every nook and corner. Everything is bland and ugly in an awful stony block style. The cinematography clearly portrays a disastrous look of the place. The appropriate usage of light and sound creates the feeling of fear, scare and intrigue.
The character of Winston Smith gets under your skin and changes the way you perceive the world. In the first scene there is a portrayal of a three-dimensional world (TV monitor, common people and the rulers) on a two dimensional movie screen. The TV monitor is screaming authoritative statements of the Government to the common man. The commoners are accepting this approach – they are the members of the Inner Party. There are the members of the Outer Party who are the rulers sat still.
A close shot is of the Big brother board, the camera then zooms into a man who was stern faced, he screamt; ‘these are our people ‘ , ‘ the workers, the builders, the soldiers’ , ‘ shout, shout out his name, Goldstein, Goldstein’ , ‘ fighting against the mutilation of our hopes and dreams’. The audience is silently given the message of how the dictatorial regime of Big Brother seized personal freedom and had absolute control of their thoughts. Common man is made to believe what the government wanted them to believe. We are given an insight to the ubiquitous menacing state power of that time.
Thus, the camera, lights and the sound together impact the viewer from the very first scene. The lighting plays an extremely effective role in differentiating between reality and dreams, truth and untruth, rich and poor and dictators and workers. It is the life of the film. Also, adding to the film’s impact the use of only dull colors. There are only shades of blue and grey everywhere whether it is; the is uniform of the citizens, television boxes, walls, rooms, offices, lifts or simply the garbage pilling up on the streets, everything seems diluted with tints and tones of darkness.
This emphasizes on the cold harsh temperament of everything living. It gives an impression of the bad times full of sorrow and misery. There is minimilistic usage of lighting, which allows us to be able to see the faces of the characters that can see no ray of hope. The sun seems nonfunctional and nonexistent. Oceania was submerged in sorrow and along with the land ideas of freedom for many people was sinking too. ‘It has come at last, the call has come. It seems like all my life I have been waiting for it, anxiously.
‘ Only time that the screen looked bright was when Winston Smith and his fellow colleagues went against the terrible regime that dehumanizes populace. They were always shown in dim light. This suggests that their life was not worth living. However, on the other hand whenever Winston Smith dreamt of something positive against the regime, breaking the norms, the lighting of the scene is bright and lively. Also when he had an illicit affair with Julia at the Victory Square was illuminated. The setting was amidst lush green trees and under a bright blue sky.
This shows how the Party had brutishly snatched away every basic freedom instilling an instinct of rebellion in few commoners. Smith asks Julia, ‘Was there a time when any of this seemed ordinary? Our luck can not last for long. ‘ This rebellion was the reason for a few moments of joy and livelihood, portrayed effectively by the colour green. Also at the end of the movie when Winston smith admits to his mistakes of being a thought criminal, the Director has portrayed this scene on television amidst greenery. ‘All I ask of you is to accept my love for our leader. I plotted against the government.
I have learnt my lesson. I was sick in mind and body. ‘ This brings to light that even though Winston Smith had committed a crime that had nearly cost him his life, it is a creditable action. On the other hand the Upper Party members like O’Brien’s residence was well lit and had a tinge of vibrancy indicating happiness while every one else was dying in poverty. ‘Attention, Attention everyone, a vast military development has been reported in section 17 of the war zone’ , ‘ All over Oceania there has been an increase in the chocolate ration to 25 grams per week’, ‘death to eternal enemies of Oceania’.
Another technical aspect is the background sound which enhances the whole impact of the movie. It is a sound that is constantly proclaiming and is very repetitive, forever reminding the people that they were no better than just slaves. The messages of the Big Brother rules are heard every hour of every day. They are a reminder of authority, they drone on information and announcements constantly. Only the Government can be heard. Even, the fundamental rights of speech had been taken away. ‘Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2 is 4, if that is granted all else follows’. The TV monitor kept ringing in every scene.