March 21, 2023

BFI Giving Nigel Keane’s Seminal Nineteen Eighty-Four Blu-Ray


George Orwell’s enduring dystopian masterpiece  1984 has brought vividly to life in many formats. Many will always remember John Hurt version with the late great Richard Burton, ironically released in 1984. 30 years before Nigel Kneale (The Quatermass Experiment) BBC produced Nineteen Eighty-Four (directed by Rudolf Cartier)’ It broke new ground for television drama when first broadcast in 1954.

In April the BFI  tying in  nicely with a Nigel Kneale season at BFI Southbank, the BFI brings this classic production to Blu-ray and DVD plus Digital format via iTunes and Amazon Prime. Experience Orwell’s haunting vision of a society dominated by relentless tyranny and the subversion of truth – a world in which Big Brother is always watching you.

Featuring a stunning central performance from Peter Cushing (The Curse of Frankenstein, Star Wars) as the doomed Winston Smith, this small-screen landmark has been newly restored by the BFI using original film materials from the BBC Archive and the BFI National Archive. The production also starred André Morell, Yvonne Mitchell, and Donald Pleasence.

Numerous extras include a newly recorded audio commentary by television historian Jon Dear, host of Nigel Kneale podcast Bergcast, with Toby Hadoke and Andy Murray, and a newly filmed conversation between the BFI’s Dick Fiddy and historian Oliver Wake, on the myths that have grown up around the production in the last 60-odd years.

Special features

  • Presented in High Definition and Standard Definition
  • Newly recorded audio commentary on Nineteen Eighty-Four by television historian Jon Dear, host of Nigel Kneale podcast Bergcast, with Toby Hadoke and Andy Murray
  • Late Night Line-Up (BBC, 1965, 23 mins): members of the cast and crew look back on the controversies surrounding this adaptation of Orwell’s classic
  • The Ministry of Truth (2022, 24 mins): in conversation with the BFI’s Dick Fiddy, television historian Oliver Wake dispels some of the myths that have grown up around the groundbreaking drama over the course of the past half century
  • Nigel Kneale: Into the Unknown (2022, 72 mins): writer, actor and stand-up comedian Toby Hadoke and Nigel Kneale biographer and programmer Andy Murray try to unpick who Kneale was, what he did and why his work still matters today
  • Gallery of rare images from the BBC Archives
  • Original script (downloadable PDF)
  • Newly commissioned sleeve artwork by Matt Needle
  • *** First pressing only*** Illustrated booklet with essays by Oliver Wake and David Ryan; credits and notes on the special features.

 UK / 1954 / black and white / 113 mins / English language, with optional subtitles for the Deaf and partial hearing / original aspect ratio 1.33:1 // BD50: 1080p/50i, 25fps, mono audio (48kHz/24-bit) / DVD9: PAL, 25fps, Dolby Digital 1.0 mono audio (24kHz/16-bit)

Nineteen Eighty-Four will be released by the BFI on 11th April, on Blu-ray, DVD, iTunes and Amazon Prime.